|Karen in 1982. She looks exactly the same today - except her red hair is mixed with just a touch of gray!|
How hard it is to describe something so simple and so real.
This love, a love between two imperfect and sinful people, has become the backdrop of my life, the air I breathe, the ground upon which I walk. How easy it is to take such a real thing for granted, as we do gravity or sunlight. And yet without it we would live as we would without gravity or sunlight - with no support, and in darkness.
We both came into the Catholic Church at the same time twelve years ago; we have argued a lot but never separated. We are opposites in every way. She is always honest with me and I am always honest with her. It is a happy marriage, but not a compatible one! And yet we've never divorced or been divorced; this is our only and our lifelong marriage.
It is hard for me to imagine the pain of people who grow to love one another and then deliberately and sometimes glibly split apart. I have lost close friends over the years - in fact I lost every single friend I had when I converted and became Catholic. None of them chose to stay around, they hated the Church so much (as I used to). This loss of all my friends was the only real price I paid to follow Christ. A light exaction for a dear benefit - but a painful one.
And lately I have been astonished at the ease of betrayal that slips out of our hearts. Even a good friend in Christ can desert another for convenience or in order to avoid inconvenience. As to betraying Our Lord - hell, we'll do it for a lot less than thirty pieces of silver. We'll do it for our political party, or for our sexual pleasure, or for something like scoring points in an internet debate.
But remember that not only did Jesus show us true love, He also endured every imaginable type of suffering - perhaps the hardest of which was not the physical scourging or crucifixion, but the betrayal, the abandonment, the desertion of friends.
That, I suspect, hurt more than anything else that dark day, the day when the sun stopped shining and gravity itself revolted and shook the earth.
For the greatest of these is love. And the worst of these is the rejection of love.
May we always remember how easy it is for us to continue to desert Him, and to desert one another.
And may we persevere in love, never taking it for granted.