When I’m old

I saw something today that really blessed me even while it made me think. We were out for our morning romp on the beach. I was playing with a football along the shore while Gerald rode waves further out in the ocean. I saw a couple laying near the water in lounge chairs, the man on his side facing the woman, talking earnestly. Later, I saw them standing in the ocean, holding hands and quietly talking. By this time, Gerald had Hezekiah in the ocean, riding the waves. As I made my way closer to the boys, I passed near the couple. They looked old enough to be Adam and Eve, bodies wrinkled, evidence of a long life etched in their faces. Yet, their eyes sparkled and they laughed every time a wave washed over them. The three of us laughed about the cool water and agreed that it was warmer today than yesterday. I pressed on past. And as I stood there waiting for the boys to come closer, I thought about what I had seen.

The love and attention the man and woman lavish on each other was evident in every action. I imagined them standing before their pastor 60 years earlier, younger versions of themselves, vowing to stay together forever, through better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, health. And in a flash I imagined all of the things they had seen, the pressures they had withstood, their losses, gains, joys and sorrows. I don’t know their story. I know only what I saw today – two people devoted to each other, a man and a woman who could allow the bigness of the world to shrink around them.

I want that! On August 15 Gerald and I will celebrate 29 years of marriage. In those years we’ve had many ups, downs, years of barely making it and years of plenty. There has been sadness, heartbreak, fear, anger, laughter, joy, wonder, peace, strife – we’ve been through a lot together, and often wondered if it was worth another try.  We’ve raised two children and are co-raising a grandchild. I don’t know what that couple has withstood. But I know that one day I want to stand in the ocean, holding hands as Gerald and I close the rest of the world out. And, I know, from the benefit of 28 years of marriage, counseling many married couples and teaching an on-going Sunday School class for nearly 15 years, that it will not just happen. The only thing that occurs naturally is deterioration. Anything that is not actively tended will deteriorate. Beautiful gardens become wastelands of weeds, a brand new home soon becomes a dump, a svelte body becomes a spongy mass of flesh, a relationship untended is not a relationship at all.

The result I want to see when I’m old starts with the work I do today. How about you?

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