When Labor Day comes around each year, it is a sure sign that the summer is almost over and fall will be soon upon us. Usually one of the first school assignments was to write an essay on “How I spent my summer vacation.” The short writings were filled with the recounting of baseball, swimming, or sailing as we lived by the shore. Sometimes they contained our fears about the first time going to summer camp. Often the writing would be about someplace special the family had gone to, usually by car but never describing the tedium felt by a child in the back seat looking out a window of a never ending ribbon of endless interstate highway. Yet the excitement of seeing majestic mountain lake would be put down in words for all to read.
This year, now the sixtieth in this life, reflection on what goes on is a regular pastime. It seems fitting to take a moment and reflect on what of significance has gone during this past summer. For those of us who are part of that unknown voiceless group,, those who have been laid off from their jobs and no longer have benefits, each day begins with what now is like a monotonous activity of an insane person doing the same activity each day and expecting a different outcome, a search of eighteen months when the summer began, to find work is a significant activity. Two and a half hours each days reading and responding to classified ads and internet job boards and the sending of hundreds of resumes by email, fax and the postal service and rarely getting even a response leaves me to wonder if the postings really exist. The worst of this is when finally getting an interview only to have hopes dashed when the twenty something human resource person notices the gray hair. Has all of this passed me by? How impersonal it all seems.
When looking at what is really significant in life, it involves our interaction people. What happens with family, friends and community are what we remember most and may affect how we live this life. The most personal interaction in my life is with my darling wife, Regina. Some might say the most significant thing in life this summer was celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary. A milestone to be sure in this day and age but how we got there is more interesting. Some people will find it odd to learn we write love letters each day to each other. We write on a particular area of our relationship and in detail describe how we feel, no judgments or thoughts, just feelings like happy, sad, angry or joyful. Then we talk about whose was the strongest; only for a few minutes. Writing a love letter each day makes it very easy to love, honor and cherish. It leads to a lifestyle that is intimate and responsible where the periods of joy are longer and the times of disillusionment and hurt are kept short. We know that forgiveness is something important not only to give but to ask for.
We were introduced to this on a Marriage Encounter weekend many years ago and after making an anniversary weekend five years ago we were asked to consider being a team couple to present the weekends. Well we said yes. Since then we have done a lot of writing. First we wrote our talks; only to have the subject matter updated last year so they all had to be rewritten. Marriage Encounter is the only marriage enrichment that is constantly updated. Having spent the last year doing a lot of these rewrites where we take our relationship and turn it inside out and back again, we have reached deep into ourselves and our relationship, our feelings and what makes us tick as a couple. So when a chance to present a weekend this summer came up, we jumped at the opportunity.
This brings me to the most significant thing that happened this summer. On this weekend, a new door opened in our relationship. Reaching out to each other in a specific area a whole range of emotions flowed out of our pens in our love letters. Regina’s trust in me to reveal something about herself I don’t think she even realized was a profound gift. Something buried for a lifetime having the dirt and dust brushed off it, like the fossilized bones of some prehistoric animal, can be lifted to the light of day and understood. I learned something new about my wife after thirty years. A new dimension has been added to the complex person she is, another thread added to the tapestry of who she is I now know. What could be more significant than that?
Dialogue question: Name and area of our relationship (relatives, children, in-laws, health, etc)in which I need to reach out to you and describe it in detail. How do I feel telling you this?