Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.
This season of “Army Wives” is hard to watch. Jeremy, the soldier son of one of the military wives, is killed while on deployment in Afghanistan. He had never seen his baby sister, and left behind a fiance — he was taken in the full bloom of youth.
The storyline reminds me of my friend Johnnette, whose son was killed in a car accident shortly after returning from deployment in Iraq; her husband Tony died about a year later of a brain tumor. Other, less traumatic but no less serious, crisis transpired between these two events, and more than once I wondered how on earth she got out of bed from one day to the next. She would have been the first to say it was by grace alone that she got through it all.
If I’ve learned one thing through this Challenge, it is that Archbishop Sheen was correct: Every marriage goes through a moment of crisis, a moment that transforms honeymoon bliss into a deeper, more satisfying kind of love. While I’ve never endured anything like the loss of a son and husband, I do know what it’s like to be so overwhelmed that I wanted nothing so much as to crawl in bed and stay there until life took a better turn. Or at least a different one. Over and over that “Simon and Garfunkle” classic would play in my head:
When you’re weary, feeling small.
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.
I’m on your side when times get rough and pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.
This song became a lifeline for me during that dark time … In Art Garfunkle’s pure, high tenor, I heard the voice of God.
In all likelihood, this approach wouldn’t work for you. When trouble strikes at the heart, the healing balm takes a unique form from one person to the next. A Bible verse. A soothing cup of tea in a favorite porcelein teacup. The embrace of a loved one — which, in an ideal world would be one’s husband.
But what if he is just as embroiled in the trouble? Or what if he is the cause of it all — unwittingly or deliberately? What if the trouble you are facing is painful precisely because he is the one in trouble, and there is nothing you can do to change the circumstances or fix the problem?
Even so, the crisis is not the end of love … but only the beginning, so long as you both hold on, trusting that it is not the end of the story, but only a chapter in the book of your lives.
Today’s challenge: Do you know someone who is struggling in their marriage today? Drop a card in the mail for her, to let her know you are thinking of her today. If she lives nearby, invite her for a cup of tea or a walk. Sometimes those small breaks from reality can be a tremendous help.
Today’s prayer: The Memorare: “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thin intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.