At the start of the order of service for “The Blessing and Celebration of a Marriage” in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer, these words are spoken by the priest as the ceremony begins:
The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.
For those that have read the first two posts in this sequence of Our Story on the “Triple-Positive,” you know that Maureen and I did not enter into marriage unadvisedly or lightly. You also know that I was most deliberate about the privilege of spending the rest of my life with this truly beautiful women, having met at Apple and knowing that I would marry Maureen even before we started dating. I had planned to make this particular post over the weekend but got a little delayed, however as I started to type, I just noticed what day it is… the 14th… 24 years and 3 months to the day that we were married. We were married on Saturday, July 14, 1990. So, this is the right day to talk about the greatest of all positives. I can think of no other way to tell our story of marriage, the greatest of all positives, than to walk through the above passage section by section.
“The union of husband and wife in heart, body and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy.” Joy. 8,853 days of joy to be exact. I just did the math and threw in a couple of extra days to account for the leap years over the last 24 years and 3 months. Needless to say, the one day back in late 2003 when we first heard the words, “you have cancer,” was not one of joy, nor the ones where it came back or metastasized. However, that is not what this passage in the order of service is about. We define joy, not disease, and so, the very simple act of dropping Maureen off at her office this morning was one of joy. My heart leapt, my body tingled, and my mind smiled just watching my beautiful bride walk into her building.
I have felt this joy since the first day we drove into the Apple office in Chicago together. I haven’t mentioned this before, but for the 6 months we dated, no one at Apple knew we were dating… well, almost no one. It isn’t that we had anything to hide; we just wanted to be private about all of it. We were the two youngest in the office, and I had a company car, so no one was ever surprised that I would drive Maureen to various events. There is a corny scene in Sleepless in Seattle when they hold hands, and they know. It is true; I knew; the first time. We held hands in the car as we drove to the office. However, we must have held hands at some event, because one of the VPs on another floor left a message for our manager sometime around February or March, “Hey Sam, are Maureen and Gary dating?” To which Sam responded, “No. If anybody would know they are dating, it would be me. Heck, they both work in this office, right under my nose.” Jump forward to my proposal after the 4th of July. Maureen and I had returned to the office in Chicago after the holiday weekend and stopped in Sam’s office to share some news.
Gary: “Hey Sam. Guess what we did this weekend?” Sam: “What?” Gary: “We got engaged.” Sam: “To each other?” Maureen: “Yes.” After this news rippled around our floor, the floor above us and out to a couple of other Apple offices, there was a voicemail left by that same VP from a few months earlier, that said simply, “I told you so!”
This is the joy that brought Maureen and I to the altar at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, Illinois for the blessing and celebration of a marriage. We were already married, which is why I love how the Episcopal Church presents this. Our hearts, bodies and minds were already fused together through joy. The marriage service was simply a public acknowledgement of our joy, a joy that has never abated. Our joy has been made more powerful by the consequences of the next passage, “and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of God.” Taylor, Kyla and Katelyn are clear signs of God’s will. We are blessed to be their mom and dad, blessed to be stewards of God’s gift to us through their birth. I know that one of the greatest joys for Maureen is her children. When I watch what they do for their mom, I know they understand her love… you can not give something you have not received, a meme I talked about back in the “New Chicago Memories and the Meme of Love” post.
There is another little passage in this order of service, and it can’t be avoided. “for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity.” Notice it says “and” not “or.” Until I typed it out, I didn’t actually realize why that is so important. Life is complicated. Life is not meant to be a journey with only prosperity and without adversity. Like Adam, I would give my rib to my Eve, my Maureen, to take her cancer from her and into me. I believe that this is part of what the last line means, “Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.” 24 years and 3 months ago, I had to stand on my tip toes when the priest told me I could kiss the bride. Today, 8,853 days later, I love my bride as much, if not more, than the day of our marriage. I also feel privileged that God blessed our union, because as Maureen battles through this adversity, I am joyful that God has blessed me to be by her side. Maureen, my heart, body and mind is yours, always has been, and always will be.