Let Me Count the Ways
I have always believed that you could never truly explain love. It was something that could not be plumbed by rational thought. Those struck by Cupid’s arrows were overwhelmed by something they could not fully comprehend and went with it. Such is loves’s mystery. The French phrase “je ne sais croix” pretty much sums it up. If love found you, you are lucky. If you are older and love still has you in its embrace, you are luckier yet.
In my own life, love cornered me when at a moment where I had already decided that Iove was not for me. I had come to think that the single life might be the better option, until love broke my heart and I could no longer resist the ride.
The love story I share with my wife is also a bit choppy. After deciding to make things permanent, was the problem that we lived in separate countries. There were a lot of long distance phone calls. There were long periods of separation. At the altar, I had to get to know my wife all over again. We have been getting to know one another ever since. This year in segregation, we have been getting to know one another all over again, after years of running off to work, and trading kids back and forth.
Everyone must eventually be called to account. Especially if you have lived with someone for a long time, justice demands that you say what you love about the other. So here goes. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1) We have history. There is little in life to match having history with somebody. Especially someone you have known through a lot of ins and outs.
2) We have children. She is a the mother of my children, and a good mother. The miracle of kids is the best gift my wife could ever give me.
3) She knows me. Yesterday she knew that when I went out to shovel snow I wanted to avoid using the new snow blower because I have an irrational fear of figuring out machines. She came out to the garage and we went over it together.
4) She shows up in a room. When we met there was a gathering of fourteen other women in the same room but I could not notice any of the others.
5) She is reliable. My wife has will-power to get things done that still astounds me. I have benefited from her push throughout a lifetime.
6) She has high standards even when I don’t like it. She does not settle easily. It has helped me up my game.
7) She is loyal. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone more loyal than my wife, and that is a blessing.
8) She has a kind heart. Though it is not the first card she plays, my wife feels for other people deeply. She is a nicer person than I am.
9) She is willing to speak the truth. If she were a man, she would be called Frank.
10) She has practical sense where I have little. I have a lot of grand philosophical thoughts that don’t amount to much. My wife knows what needs to be done, and how to get it done.
11) My wife is talented and the mistress of many arts. She is a stellar nurse, a great cook, and she knows something from a lot of practical skills, from sewing to cleaning on down the line. All things which help. Despite a year of COVID the house is running like a clock and we have been the recipient of her artfulness.
12) My wife has always been beautiful. Hers is the face that kept me hooked through times of physical separation.
13) The feminine touch. Our bedroom has a million pillows. They are decorative, and must be moved out of the way when you go to sleep. When I come into our room, the bed is always made and the sheets changed. Pillows top it all off. If I was living alone it would never occur to me how important that is. It just makes everything… better.
14) My wife is a hard worker. She never sits down, a whir of something going on that needs to get done. By the time she is done cooking, the dishes are also done. I don’t know either how she does that. It seems to happen almost automatically.
15) My wife is devout. I have watched her over the course of a lifetime and my wife takes her beliefs seriously. More than that, her beliefs knit into how she lives, seamlessly. She has integrity, which is a rare and special.
16) My wife is meticulously fair. If there at ten peas on a plate and two people, each will get five peas. If you are not around she will save those five peas to make sure you get them. It’s a thing.
17) She is praiseworthy. Proberbs 31 sings the praises of a good wife. “She is strong and graceful, as well as cheerful about the future. Her words are sensible, and her advice is thoughtful. She takes good care of her family and is never lazy. Her children praise her, and with great pride her husband says, ‘There are many good women, but you are the best!’ Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, but a woman who honours the Lord deserves to be praised. Show her respect—praise her in public for what she has done.”
Maybe I will stop there. So yes, I love. And I know that I am loved. There is something divine in that picture and someday we will know, just as we are known. We have been knit into something eternal without even knowing how or why. But it’s our story in the end, and one that I hope our kids will savour and pass on because the world needs a good love story.
In the end, logical explanations are insufficient. There is that thing I call the glue. If you cannot imagine life without your spouse, you know what I am talking about. The glue sticks no matter what because it is bigger than both of us. Whether you love someone needs no convincing. If you love, you just know that you do and maybe that is enough.
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Khalil Gibran - The Prophet