It’s late. Past eleven. Everyone else is asleep, the last school night before Christmas break. I am still up, writing, and waiting for the college girl to come home. She just called. “Hey dad, I’ll be home at 11:30.” A gift without the need of unwrapping.
Last night Aly and I celebrated our twenty-third year and one day of marriage. Sunday was too full to work in a tired date. Aly began the day on a Sunday School panel seated by our priest. Aly is a School Psychologist, a job title until last Friday largely unknown in the national vernacular, and we would all rather it had stayed that way. The Sabbath day ended with a youth group Christmas Party chaperoned by me, because, YOUTH is the funnest gig going at church, and I like it when church is fun. Teenagers angling for the best White Elephant gift had never appeared so sacred. They were all six years old once. Thank God they made it this far. Nothing is promised.
So against the best advice of Dave Ramsey, we went out on Monday night. Not that he has anything against Monday, but he has built a career on debt free dining. We went anyway, not as a riot against financial peace, but rather because we would have been sorry if we didn’t.
And forgive the comparison, but I thought of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s turn of the phrase “Cheap Grace vs. Costly Grace.” Again, no disrespect intended, but these twenty-three years and a day have cost us something. The conscious choices we have made were not the sum total of decisions for the sake of ease and financial gain. To not celebrate would be to disregard the value of the pile of moments that have gotten us to here. It’s been work. We still haven’t made it to the easy part. And what is the fun of celebrating something that requires neither sweat of brow nor toil of hands? “And David said to the owner of the threshing floor, ‘we will not offer a sacrifice which costs us nothing.’”
As I left for work this morning Aly told me she discovered a leak beneath our bathroom sink. I was immediately taken to the words of Jesus incarnate in the one called Erma Bombeck: Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere.
I exhaled worry and disgust for a moment. Just add it to the list of required repairs. Dammit! And then I inhaled grace. Grace to splurge on dinner. Grace to see a solid marriage being built one repair after another. And Grace to look back at this year of tired dates to see a Divine blueprint for a good marriage. Maintenance required.
So there is a bucket beneath the p-trap, and a fan drying out the cabinet floor.
And I had lobster last night, she the Cobia. And with wine, the meal was 134 dollars. “Eat that Ramsey!”