|Hank and Sharon Married in 1975|
"What is home?” Fr. Ron Rolheiser asks in a recent column in The Catholic Register, June 2, 2019, “Looking for home in all the right places." He speaks about looking for "the marriage bed,” a term he picked up from one of his college students. She discovered, through Rolheiser's teaching and a book he’d assigned for reading, that she had been looking for love and home in all the wrong places.
Father Rolheiser saw this 30-year-old student's term,”the marriage bed," as "a great image for what the heart calls home,” which "is where you are comfortable, physically, psychologically and morally. Home is where you feel safe . . . where your heart doesn’t feel out of place, compromised, violated . . .”
Here is my (our) story. More than forty years ago, upon hitting the big Three-O, I wondered if I would ever meet the right man for me. i.e. a man I could be at home with--physically, psychologically and morally. After four years teaching in Fort McMurray, a boom town in those days, I felt I needed to return to Edmonton.
Shortly after my return, I met Hank, and I knew this would be a different and special relationship. Being with him felt like being home. I didn’t want, or need, to pretend I was anyone other than myself. I gather he felt the same. Hank did indeed sweep me off my high heels, but our connection was more than infatuation. Being with him felt wonderful and comfortable and I realize now that being with him did, and still does, feel like being home.
I had been baptized in Christ and raised in the Evangelical Covenant Church. Family life, Bible camp, confirmation and Bible college had grounded me in the Christian faith. Hank had grown up with little instruction in Christianity, but as an adult he became a Christian and joined the Roman Catholic Church. While dating, we’d attend his church one weekend and mine the next. Several months later, I took instruction, or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, in the Catholic Church. Hank attended classes with me.
In 1975, Hank and I were married in St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church in Barrhead, which is still our place of worship. Together we raised our three children in the faith. Since then, there has been lots of water under the bridge. Not all our waters involved smooth sailing.
Serious about marriage, we took a marriage preparation course, and later, one or two weekends away for Marriage Encounter, which was a start to our part of the bargain. Holy Matrimony is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic church. The exact definition of a sacrament is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” You can read more about this at www.beginningcatholic.com/sacraments.
Sometimes, when we least expected it, God’s grace was at work in our “marriage bed." For example, we--each of us with our own set of imperfections--are still happily married.
Outward Signs of Grace--Examples
One of our earliest graces, I believe, even before our marriage, was the miracle that we found each other.
Another grace was the way our family grew, which is a story all its own, but here’s a brief synopsis. We decided to adopt children, and in the space of 19 months after application, God placed in our care three small children. We will always be thankful to our Lord for entrusting Michael, Christie and Jenny to us. We are also indebted to the three separate women, who accepted the responsibility of nurturing these children in the womb and giving them life. Then, each young woman made the tough decision of surrendering her child to parents she hoped would be better positioned to raise her birth child.
|Michael, Christie and Jenny soon after Jenny’s arrival|
|Our Family with Three Teens|
Now, I’m chuckling, because I think Hank and I are at least in the same chapter.
We have grown in our love toward God and our love for each other. We’ve also grown in loving our neighbours. We have become taller trees, but still there is room for growth and pruning, as God’s time allows.
None of us can deny the passage of time. Hank is a few years older than I and the past few years have been unkind to his body. Yesterday Hank was discharged from his second stay in hospital in the past six weeks.
I spend time with Hank especially when he’s in hospital. I try to brighten his day. I make appointments, ask questions, advocate and, mostly, pray. We remind each other of the many good aspects of our lives, like faith, family and friends. While I pour his hot home-brewed coffee from the thermos, I thank God that we are still in “the marriage bed" together.
|Our 40th Anniversary|
I find beauty and satisfaction in knowing that we are both “home” and that our family continues to grow.