Happily Even After
Comings and Goings
by Josh Noem
Stacey and I just this week sat back after dinner and took a deep breath and enjoyed a glass of wine. May was a busy month. Stacey had a lot of end-of-the-year events for the university, and we had a number of great visits from family and friends. It turned out to be a month of dinners and parties, which was a lot of fun.
It was also tiring. We are ready for June, which is a pretty open page on the calendar. The kids get out of school this week, so we’ll take our first tired step into summer, ready to relax and have a few weeks without something special happening. We became members of a local outdoor pool and are ready for the temperatures to get a little warmer so we can spend some evenings there without watching a clock.
The many comings and goings have been making me think of the two Catholic feast days that fell in the past week. Last Friday, May 31, marked the Visitation, when we recall the journey of Mary to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. Then, June 7th marks the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In both cases, I see a rhythm of coming and going. The Visitation is obviously about journeying out to encounter another, but the image of the Sacred Heart also reminds me of the rhythm of movement in the heart. With each heartbeat, blood enters and exits the heart to nourish the rest of the body.
A professor of mine once likened the Mass to a heart beating. In the Mass, he said, we are drawn into the church building and the mystery of the Eucharist, where we are fed with Christ’s body, and then propelled out to nourish the world. So it is with Jesus’ love for us—he draws us into communion, but at the same time propels us out to share that love with others.
Our house has resembled a heart this past month. I imagine a surveillance tape of our front door from the past 30 days played in fast-forward—people coming in and going out, arriving and departing with hugs and waves. I see the walls of our house start to contract and expand to the rhythm.
I think about how we’ve been nourished in the past month with the many visitors who have graced our threshold. People have come and gone, and their time with our family is marked by joy and communion. We had one hell of a margarita party over Memorial Day weekend, for example—piñata and all.
This is what we’ve always wanted for our marriage and family life. Stacey and I envision our marriage as a taste of heaven. We often enough fall short of that, but at the same time, we certainly get to experience something profoundly sacred in quiet moments throughout a given week within our family. It is a lot of fun to share some of that feast with others, especially with people we love so dearly.
The gratuitous blessing in it all, of course, is how much fun it is. There are a lot of sheets and towels to wash, but it has been a graced role to play the part of Elizabeth this past month—our spirits leaping for joy that God should visit us in the faces of such wonderful people.
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