A couple was very much in love.
Like most lovers, their life together was a story deeper than it was long. Every couple knows the steps. The fascination. The slowly shrinking orbit of getting to know one another. The infatuation, the weeks and months when they drove all their friends mad because, try as they might, they just couldn’t stop talking about each other. (How could they? The world was full of wonders, but there wasn’t a single wonder that didn’t remind them somehow of each other.)
There were rough patches, of course, disappointments, fights and regrets, but most of the time those were lost behind laughter, forgotten amidst the exhilaration of sharing excitement. And there were quieter moments, the gentle satisfaction of an ordinary day or the quiet lull of the others’ presence as they drifted off to sleep.
While the man worked sometimes, he preferred to stay at home. The woman had a job, a good job that she liked. But even as she made friends at work and felt the satisfaction of meeting new and interesting challenges, the day wasn’t complete until it had been shared. Sometimes she could hardly keep her hands from texting him. Sometimes it was hard to stay away from Facebook, hard not to send just a quick reminder to him that she was there.
At the end of one particular workday she climbed with relief into her car. Her heart flitting with every landmark she passed: here’s her exit, the post office, here’s the corner store. Their neighborhood, their street, their home. Tired as she was, she was happy, eager to talk about her day, as she stepped into their house.
Outside, the grass was mowed and inside the house shone. The living room had been dusted and the kitchen floor mopped, the furniture shone with new polish and the house was filled with the scent of dinner; a dozen tiny signs of affection. And there, there, tired and happy in the front hall, was the person he had been waiting all day to see.
“I’m so sorry!” he blurted, cutting off her greeting. “I meant to get to the gutters and the garage, but I just couldn’t.” The woman, startled, tried to begin again. But his apologies came too fast. “And I know I should have called your sister, but you know how we get along…” And dinner would be late. And he hadn’t used the right seasoning. And he was sure he’d made too much.
And on and on. And when the man had talked himself out, the woman walked over to him. She put her hand on his hips and kissed him gently. She took him by the hand and sat him on the couch beside her, lay his head on her lap, and ran her fingers through his hair.
And there they sat.
When I come back to my room I toss my battered bookbag into its corner. I’m rewarded with a heavy thud, a reproof, a reminder of work undone, texts unread and letters untranslated. With sleepy eyes, I glance around my room: there’s pillow on the bed, there’s the open facebook account, there’s my prayer space.
I walk over and I sit. I pull the lever on the recliner and fall back. With no preamble I begin: “Jesus, I’m so sorry that this is the first time we’re talking today…”
And Jesus looks back, gently raising a single, quieting finger to his lips.