Her post was adamant. It was, essentially, a declaration to everyone who thought she was too young to get married that they should butt out. She knew what she was doing, and she was mature enough to make this decision.
Weren’t we all? How well I remember those moments of early love, the times that were in so many ways easier when we decided the two of us would take on the world. As her wedding approached and her stress levels mounted, I reminded her of the importance to plan for a spectacular marriage rather than a spectacular wedding. I reminded her to look for the “snapshot moments”, securing them in her heart’s memory book for when times got tough.
Not if. When.
A month later, she sent a note. “Everyone was right,” she said. “I was too young.”
That’s when I told her that I had the same feeling a month into my second marriage, and I’d been twice her age. It has nothing to do with the years gone by, but everything to do with what we can put into it as a couple. It’s hard work, this relationship stuff. I reminded her to go through her snapshots–which she did–and the next day all was well again.
A few years ago, I had an opportunity to walk a classical Chartres labyrinth. I always thought that a labyrinth and a maze were the same thing, but they are not. My friend equates the walking of a labyrinth with prayer, one long continuous path towards a focal point at the centre. A maze has several false turns and stops that force one to backtrack often.
The first day, I chose to walk in solitude. The path appeared to head directly to the centre and while sometimes it came tantalizingly close, there were many twists and turns that took me far away before I arrived. Needing to concentrate on the path was meditative, and I appreciated the experience very much.
The next day, the guys walked it with me. This was completely different. There was enough distraction that more than one of us lost our place. It was faster and noisier and harder to concentrate. In fact it was a bit chaotic. Even though we had the same goal, I found the need to accommodate their different paces and comments and physical presence to be slightly annoying. Oh blog friends, let’s be honest. The two guys were beginning to irritate the snot right out of me.
We had one more day. I wanted to visit the labyrinth alone, to regain the solitude of the first day, but my husband insisted on coming with me while our friend finished packing up the camp. It was fascinating how different the experience was again, and it became the most important moment of the journey. Yes, we were on exactly the same path, but we didn’t travel at the same speed. Consequently, there were moments when we were walking one in front of the other, then side by side, and once we were at completely opposite ends of the circle. There were times when we looked to be going in different directions, even though we were headed to the same place. And, because he left the centre before I did, there was even a moment of direct conflict, as one had to step off the path in order to let the other continue on it.
This particular mental snapshot is the one that comes to mind most often. I see him on the other end of the labyrinth’s loop, facing the opposite direction, focusing intently. We appear to be at odds when we’re not, that we aren’t even remotely heading towards the same goal though we are.
So we intentionally continue on the path of loving and caring for each other, trusting that the winding will sort itself out again, that just as quickly as it seemed to go wrong it will straighten itself out and we’ll be side by side again.
It happened during a snowshoe trek in the forest this past weekend. A wee bird reminded us that we’re heading in the same direction after all. That’s what I want my young friend to know. It was magical, and I shudder to think how giving up could have meant the missing of it.
That’s a memory moment worth holding on to.