Today as a prompt for my blogging class, I read a short poem by Anna Swir, translated from the Polish by Czselaw Milosz. It’s about a sixty-year old woman whom, she writes, “lives the greatest love of her life.” She walks arm in arm with her dear one, who compliments her hair, saying it is “like pearls.” And her children say, “Old fool.”
So what does it mean to live the greatest love of one’s life? When and where do we start?
Is it about the rush of emotion? The heart-racing, flush-faced infatuation? Is it to be in the throes of earthshaking ecstasy, breathless with the Barry White soundtrack? Is it the “jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou beside” romance? Or is this “living the greatest love of one’s life” about something else?
I am not sixty, and I am not a woman, but I do have a dear one. While our marriage has always been more or less “good,” some twenty years into our relationship, I truly believe I am living the greatest love of my life: with the woman I wed on a late December day in 1990.
In case you’re curious, here’s how that happened. I started taking to heart what I say in premarital counseling sessions about marriage being a vocation, a calling from God to work – work that is marked by kindness, compassion, humility, and patience. I began to internalize the charge I so often dispense to invest in your relationship: to put in the deposits, the little acts of kindness that make sure you stay in the black on the ledger, so that when you have to make a withdrawal, you don’t break the bank. You can only hear such words come out of your own mouth so many times before you either begin to embody them or feel like a hypocrite. So I started to post our favorite love songs to her Facebook page, or stop on the way home from an evening meeting to buy her flowers or a card, to simply let her know how much I appreciate her.
Maybe tonight, I’ll tell her hair is like pearls. And our daughter will laugh, and call me an old fool. And I’ll smile, because I’ve found the secret to living the greatest love of my life. It’s letting my dear one know that she means the world to me.