Married Miracles

Dr. and Mrs. Karl Menninger by the US National Archives on Flickr.

A married couple.

I’m pretty sure I saw a miracle in church. A few weeks back, as I sat in my pew before mass, I overheard an older woman, her hand resting in her husband’s lap, whisper to no one in particular, “Today is our 65th wedding anniversary.” I gazed at them in wonder. I couldn’t help it.  I can’t put my finger on what captivated me, but the protagonist from David Foster Wallace’s short story “Mr. Squishy” comes pretty close to explaining my amazement:

[He] was coming to understand why the Church all through his childhood catechism and pre-Con referred to it as the Holy Sacrament of Marriage, for it seemed every bit as miraculous and transrational and remote from the possibilities of actual lived life as the crucifixion and resurrection and transubstantiation did, which is to say it appeared not as a goal to expect ever to really reach or achieve but as a kind of navigational star, as if in the sky, something high and untouchable and miraculously beautiful…

Seeing marriages lived out reveals to me God’s love and grace. I see love worthy of God in the way that couples care about each other: tending to sickness, picking up from the airport, folding the laundry–sacrificing for one another “over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day,” as Wallace puts it in his 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College. And keeping up that loving, day in and day out since the end of the Second World War, that feat is unfathomably difficult and ‘miraculously beautiful.’

It looks to me like a miracle–God’s grace irrupting on earth through these two parishioners.

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