Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Building Their Relationship Together

Saturday evening (9/6) Father Joe Townsend and I co-officiated Meghann and Howard's wedding ceremony at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:  

Howard vividly tells a fascinating story about Meghann: “Meghann is very pure of heart, she truly cares about other people and their welfare. One time we were in the airport waiting for a flight. Quite some distance away from us, a teenager had fallen asleep on one of the chairs in the waiting area and they had just announced last call for that gate. Meghann asked me if I thought that he was about to miss his flight. I replied that we don't even know if he is supposed to get on that particular flight. She said we had to wake him up just in case. At her urging, I shook him (quite persistently) until he finally awoke and we asked if the nearby gate was indeed for his flight. He immediately jumped to his feet and made a run for it, barely making it and without any time to even thank us. This was a perfect stranger, that no one even thought to notice, and Meghann was concerned that he might miss his flight (if it even was his flight). Meghann had nothing to gain by helping him out; it was simply the right thing to do. I like to think that had I noticed him sleeping first, I would've done the same thing. But in an airport full of people, Meghann was the only one who thought to notice him.”

Now, we can get into the depth of that story in a moment, but what really struck me about this story is how it reminded me of another old story. The Bible tells us that Abraham sends his chief servant to his native land to find a wife for his son. Being an astute executive, Abraham does not tell his servant how to find the right woman, rather having chosen the right man for the job, he lets him do it. So, how does the servant decide which woman is the right one? Waiting at the well, he decided he will ask one of the young women drawing water for a small drink, and that the one who volunteers to give him, all his men and his camels water, will be the right choice for Isaac. Indeed, once Rebecca arrives, she does just that, and is chosen as Isaac’s new wife.

Now, obviously, the point of this story is not to take this literally, nor to say that this happened in the way described, or even happened at all. The point of this story, like most stories in the Bible, is to teach an important lesson. The pinnacle of human behavior is to do the right thing, because it is right, and to help those in need, with no ulterior motive aside from the recognition that that is the right thing to do. When the servant sees that, as Howard might put it regarding Meghann, that, Rebecca is, “very pure of heart, [that] she truly cares about other people and their welfare,” he realizes that he has found the right woman.

Now, in the Bible or more commonly in fairy tales, that is all you need, and everyone lives happily ever after. In fact, Hollywood seems to glorify an approach where matters of the heart all just come naturally, and only if they do are they “real”. However, in real life, even when the “candidate” is “marriage material”, you need something else. You need to know that the relationship itself, like all things in life, demands hard work, and you need to put in the time and the effort to do that work. That is something that Meghann and Howard have never shied away from.

This is what Meghann reminds us of: “Howard and I have dated for several years, and truly enjoy spending time together. We have seen many wonderful times and have supported each other through the difficult ones. The Catholic Church encourages engaged couples to attend pre cana classes as part of the marriage preparation. These classes only reinforced that we are both entering into married life eyes wide open… Despite different religions and backgrounds, we both have very similar views and beliefs. Howard makes me laugh, is very smart and curious about the world and is very supportive and reliable. He loves me for who I am despite my faults, which I appreciate so much… I always want to hang out with him and I consider him my best friend.”

And Howard tells us that in building their relationship together, they passed the greatest of all tests. This is important to all married couples, so listen up: “We have even built IKEA furniture together (several pieces) and survived it. Apparently, there is a saying in Sweden that says any couple that can survive building IKEA furniture together can survive a lifetime. We are best friends, companions and we know we want to be together. We look forward to what the future holds for us as a team.”

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