Sunday, May 2, 2010

Comparisons

Yep, I really am home.  And by that I mean barking dogs and rain and barking dogs and rain.  Not just rain, but pouring rain.  And a husband who is jittery because he'd like to be out mowing but can't due to...rain. The cats and dogs (whatever the heck that means) pouring rain.  He's even more stir-crazy than the dogs, and that's saying a lot.  He made a Swedish kringle for our late breakfast and chicken curry an early dinner.  I don't know what kind of food he'll be cooking the rest of the day, but I'm betting it won't be two more hours before he's thinking of something.  Making a chocolate/peanut butter milkshake if nothing else.  I asked him a little while ago if he was going to try to eat his weight today, and he said he was going to 'give it the old college try.'  For those of you playing at home, that's 240 lbs of food, but I wouldn't bet against Beve.  Not on a cold, wet, windy day when he can't think of anything to do but what he can't do--mow all those lawns that are in serious need of mowing!

I always miss Beve  a lot when we're apart.  I miss his razor wit and the way we don't have to explain things to each other.  I miss the rhythms of our marriage that have peaks and valleys, his various quirks and the way they have meshed with my myriad foibles.  Like how if I leave my watch and glasses on the sink in the bathroom at night, they'll be on the back of the toilet in the morning.  Like how if I start a load of wash, he'll move it to the dryer.  And if he cuts the onions for the curry, he can count on me to mince the garlic.   I know his moods (which change about as often as the rain today, which means NOT VERY MUCH).  I know who to expect when his car pulls in the driveway.  I know the dogs will bark in expectation, somewhat like our children when they were small.  No barking, but every bit as much excitement.  Daddy's home, the best part of the day is here!  For all of us.

I just spent a week at my sister's.  I've spent a lot of time in her home, especially in the last few years since Mom moved into assisted living.  And my sister's house is comfortable and easy for me.  And I recognize the rhythms in that house as well.  After dinner every night, my sister makes her husband's lunch for the next day while he does the dishes. Both in the kitchen, it's their time to talk through the day, catch up about their grown kids.  Do business.  My presence there eschews things, I'm aware, but I have a view of who they are together in their empty nest.  And I think they're finding peace, goodness in the quiet of this time in their lives.  But I also recognize that their rhythms are different than ours because they are different than we are.  They have different callings, and different temperaments.  I can visit their home, and feel gladly welcomed and even at home.  But it is not my home, and I could not live there anymore than they could live in my world--particularly without each other.  I miss my Beve too much. Miss my own marriage when confronted with any other.

Beve and I don't always have a perfect marriage.  Sometimes we disagree. Sometimes the big man I live with is just too big, too much in my way.  I remember the first summer we were married and living out of suitcases at a basketball camp.  One morning I got out of the shower and was trying to find a pair of tennis shoes in our closet.  His size 14s had been kicked off willy-nilly and were obscuring any view of my 'tiny' shoes (I wear a 9, not exactly small!).  I took a step back and had to gather myself.  All our shoes co-mingled.  His giant shoes strewn all over my life.  This is what marriage meant.  It just about did me in that morning.  His stuff is just so large, so impossibly large in my life.  His clothes, his body, his body temperature, his opinions (!), his everything--large and overwhelming. But I'm pretty sure that if Beve ever thought about such things (which he doesn't!), he'd think the same thing about me (though my stuff is much smaller than his).  Every time we don't agree with each other, the other's opinions can come across as large and overwhelming, I think.  Or overbearing.  Over-something, anyway.  And yet, Beve would also agree, if he ever thought about such things (which he certainly doesn't), that there is no other marriage he'd be in. For clarification, Beve just doesn't go comparing his life to others.  It isn't in him to do so.  He leaves that kind of thing to me...even though I know--I know!--that 'comparisons are odious'.

That's my point, now that I think of it: Comparisons are odious, as Cervantes said.  Or was it Marlowe? John Donne?  Someone, anyway.  In anycase, it's true. Comparisons are odious.  This is my home, my marriage, my life.  It doesn't matter how anyone else lives, how any other marriage works--God calls me to live here.  Be content here.   This is what He asks of each of us.  To live each day worthy of Him.  Walk in a manner worthy--walk in my marriage, walk in my parenting, walk in my life, worthy of Him.  Others live differently.

It reminds me a little of Peter and Jesus and John on the beach after the resurrection.  Peter has just been re-instated into His service by Jesus' three queries of "Do you love me?"..."Then feed my sheep." Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."  Not surprisingly, this somewhat mysterious statement worried Peter, and he looked around, wanting to know someone else's fate.  'Hey,' he asked,pointing at John.  'What about him?'  And Jesus might well have said, 'Comparisons are odious.'  He didn't, but close.  "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." 

We do that.  We look around for someone to ask about when things are hard in our lives.  In our marriages.  In our homes.  "What about them?" And He always says comparisons are odious.  We are asked to follow Him as He calls us, not as He calls our sisters, our neighbors, our friends.  "You must follow me."... Even when it's hard. 

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