Jodi Blazek ❤ Joseph Gehr, August 17, 1985
A marriage is made of moments. When you string them all together, you get a picture of a life built together. A marriage isn’t made, once and for all, when the I-dos are exchanged. A marriage is constantly being re-created; it is always in the process of becoming.
A marriage goes through seasons: the spring of new life and hope, the summer of comfort and security, the autumn of changes and letting go, the winter of sadness and despair. A marriage embraces all seasons. It can feel like the carefree days of summer—laughter, joy and spontaneity; and it can also be like the frigid days of winter, where bundling up and taking shelter provides the only comfort that “this too shall pass”. A marriage will not survive without adapting to, enduring and celebrating the change of seasons.
“We have discovered each season to be a stepping stone in a great circle of life. Round and round they go, no season ever exactly the same as the year before, each one teaching us something more about who we are and about how life is going to be lived. We have come to know this circle of life an ongoing spiral of growth, bringing ever fuller and deeper wisdom into our lived experiences.” The Circle of Life: The Hearts Journey Through the Seasons, Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr
As I drive familiar country roads on my (at least monthly) drives to St. Benedict Center, I marvel at how different the experience is because of the changing seasons. I have taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of pictures of the countryside, but no two will ever be the same. The corn might be higher, the clouds fluffier, the sky more blue, the grass green (who knew there were so many shades?), trees blossoming, sometimes wildflowers and sometimes weeds.
The landscape is ever changing, always being re-created, always becoming. Day to day, the changes are barely recognizable. It is only in pause and reflection that nature’s transformation is fully recognized.
So, too, in our relationships—in our work, in our marriage, with our children, friends and parents. We are part of nature and creation that is always being re-created, always becoming. Our relationships evolve as we, ourselves, are becoming.
A marriage is made of moments.
- The first time Joe saw me in my wedding dress, rounding a corner in the church sanctuary, not expecting to see each other yet. I think he said, “wow!”
- Working four jobs between us to get me through college, sometimes only having enough time to exchange notes or take a break together at one of our shared part-time jobs at Montgomery Ward.
- Beginning careers, transitioning careers, pursuing hobbies and letting some go.
- First fights, first reconciliations; first “couple friends”, first divorces of “couple friends”; first child, first miscarriage; first pet, first pet that passed away; first vacation, first home; first day of kindergarten, first day of college.
A marriage is made of moments.
Marriage includes the necessary and mundane—doing laundry, taking out the trash, paying bills, fixing, washing, mowing, checking things off the list of things to do, arguing about checking things off, thanking each other for checking things off.
The years fly by… but a milestone anniversary is an opportunity to pull back on the accelerator, put on the brakes and notice what has just passed us by—that our marriage is made up of moments. That we have indeed endured and celebrated through the seasons.
Just last weekend driving country roads, I came across a sunflower field. I actually drove right by it, but deciding to take another turnoff, I braked and put my car in reverse. When I was backing up, I noticed in my mirror the magnificent yellow, gold and orange of a sunflower field that I had just driven past. It was a talk-out-loud-to-myself moment.
With camera in hand, I went into the road, eventually moving to the ditch, to capture the varying hues and heights of the sunflowers. In the throes of photo-taking bliss, I didn’t realize that a truck pulling a flatbed trailer was approaching. A young couple in the truck stopped, rolled down their window and the man said, “You like those sunflowers?”
The words bubbled out of me, “They are incredible, amazing, so beautiful!”
He proudly tells me it’s their farm.
“My daughter was just telling me she wanted to find a sunflower field to take some pictures in. I’ll have to bring her back. How long will they be in bloom?”
Only three days or so. He told me I could pick one, but uncertain how to navigate the barbed wire, I didn’t. I wish I would have asked. I wish I would have asked their name, or permission to take the hundreds of pictures I already had and would.
But it was a moment in time. Perhaps it will be for them too. Remember that middle-aged lady who acted like she’s never seen sunflowers before?
After 30 years of marriage, Joe and I have so many moments like this….those “remember when” moments, the makings of great story-telling or one-liners that no one else understands but us. Funny, sad, silly, stupid, poignant, heartwarming, memorable moments. Moments we’d like to forget and moments we have to forgive. But, mostly, moments that have helped us become who we are and that have brought us to where we are now.
A marriage is made of moments.
- Parenting Jessica, from diapers and bottles, soccer games and camp-outs, to high school, DECA, sports and college accomplishments. (I did take Jessica to the sunflower field within a few days, but it had been mostly harvested. Another good reminder to soak up the moments…so glad I took the half-hour to take photos and enjoy myself.)
- Joe and our daughter bantering about when her financial emancipation will occur (not soon enough for the former, not long enough for the latter) and whether THIS time she will keep her room clean.
- When Joe brings home a special bottle of wine or doggie treats for no reason…or I bring him a Wendy’s frosty.
- Joe encouraging me to take time for myself at St. Benedict Center and for me, encouraging him to take another trip with his parents to Las Vegas, because you never know when it will be the last one. And the last one did come too soon.
- Standing in the new house we are building and both of us saying it already feels like home.
- Joe, gently brushing the hair off his mother’s head, telling her he loves her in her final moments of life.
A marriage is made of moments. Thirty years of birth and death, love and loss, hopes and dreams. Thirty years of moments: shared family, friends and experiences.
Thirty years of marriage is a threading of memories, a string of moments that hold the seasons of life. Just like the sunflower field, each moment lasts for just a short while. It’s important to pause, reflect and take in the beauty of the moment, because the moments pass so quickly.
The seeds are planted, the sunflowers grow and the seeds are harvested. This is something we can count on—the seasons circle around and we continue creating moments. They happen whether we celebrate them or not, so I’m thinking we better take notice! It is in becoming more aware that we honor where we’ve come from and consider what we’ll pass on in the harvest. To many more moments…