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This week I celebrate 50 years of marriage to my husband. I never imagined a fiftieth wedding anniversary. In fact marriage as it has evolved has been as much of a surprise as it was a hope.

I could not have imagined 50 years ago that each of us would have had the variety of callings that we each have had, separately and together. Nowhere on the horizon did I see rock climbing and kayaking, art history and critique, global standards and values education as passions and career trajectories for my husband. I could not have imagined what bearing and raising children would be like for me, nor my own calls to Ministry of Word and Sacrament, seminary teaching and spiritual direction. The possibility of all those threads of our individual lives being woven into a whole could have seemed fanciful and daunting to me were I have to known how we would unfold.

I imagined that we would grow in the same directions emotionally, spiritually and in interests. While that has been true in some ways, more often we have developed differing points of view, different vocabulary, different habits of the heart, and the work has been how to let those differences continue the dialogue between us in respect and love. In some of those 50 years the differences have felt like challenges, in others like complementary perspectives. I have been surprised at how rich it has been to live and act in a household where speaking our truth in love has brought energy and Light to each other and to those around us.

Children have both enriched and schooled us. Our families of origin with their ways of seeing and acting were not completely adequate for our call to parenting, especially in a milieu of a rapidly changing and technological society in a global world. We could not fall back on old adages and precepts any more than we could use all of our mother’s recipes that used ingredients no longer made. So we were adult parents seeking the ways of child nurture for ourselves and offspring, seemingly without a net. We presumed on the mercy of God over and over–when we disagreed, when we failed, when we did not have a clue, when we were disappointed, and when we were surprised by joy, which is where we find ourselves now as parents and grandparents, getting ready to celebrate this summer as an entire family.

It seems as if the overriding theme in these years has been Grace: God’s grace to us as creatures, God’s grace in directing us to each other (which at one time seemed unlikely!), and our own learning to be Grace-full and Gracious, in times of extremity, sickness and health, times of scarcity and times of plenty, times of grayness and times of sunshine. We have been give enormous graces of education, of meaningful work, of health care, of loving friends and communities, of opportunity to travel, of deep conversation, of being Light-bearers where we find ourselves.

And now we are living in the Grace of Growing old together. We look at our wedding picture on the wall and wonder who those young people are. We resemble them, but we are so much more: wiser, we hope; more compassionate, we think; more elastic, we notice, both in waistline and acceptance of others. We want to be more transparent, more loving, more delighted and delightful! And it is Grace that is helping us find our way.

One our wall since the first decade of our marriage is this quotation from philosopher, Stanley Cavell:

Only those can genuinely marry who are already married. It is as though you know you are married when you cannot divorce, that is when you find your lives simply will not disentangle. If your love is lucky, this knowledge will be greeted with laughter.

Our mouths are filled with laughter as we celebrate! Grace has brought us safely through these 50 years! We are grateful!