I went to morning and evening church at my home congregation in Augusta, where I was confirmed and baptized, and where my membership still rests (provided they haven’t expunged me from the rolls for non-attendance over the last decade). The pastor is preaching through Hosea in the mornings, and 1 Corinthians in the evenings, and so both services dealt with adultery, in a way—the morning focused on our unfaithfulness to God, and his great mercy, and the evening was a discussion of the ways in which Christians married to other Christians need to handle divisive marital issues (not unfaithfulness exclusively) in the context of their relationships with the Almighty and the church. I wanted to ask the pastor (to whom I re-introduced myself after the 11 AM service—he remembered me, and my parents, but didn’t know that Daddy had died) several marriage-related questions, and thus may email him: How do those of us who do hold marriage in esteem, who are afraid of messing up by choosing the wrong partner, or simply by proving to be wrong ourselves, actually screw up the courage to take the leap? (Having written this, I see the answer already—realize that God’s got to be the center, and the central support—asking for council from those wiser before marriage and in it to discern that both you and your spouse, insofar as you can know yourselves and be known by others, are doing the same.) The second is stickier—should you, as an ex-in-law of an unfaithful spouse, also cut off relations with them? Surely to keep praying for them is not unacceptable, but deliberately attempting to re-establish direct contact would be inadvisable, or so I think. I hate divorce, and all the reasons that it is needful.
A week or so ago, I was discussing the issue of international romantic relationships with an ex-missionary friend of mine, who is fluent in German and will be teaching at Georgetown in the spring. She’s a wise lady, my former polyester roommate, direct and unflinching in ways that I wish I were (I told her that the stereotype of the inscrutable Oriental has nothing on a Southern woman beating verbally about the bush), and she told me that some former MKs she knows, long and happily married, once said that the best test for seeing if an international romance will work is by having both potential spouses each spend six months in each other’s culture. That way, not only will you know your love better, you will understand the context from which he or she is coming—can you endure that environment, how it shaped the person of whom you are fond? Do you understand to what models of behavior he or she may revert, based on the cultural background? I think this is shrewd counsel, particularly if you meet while living in a third culture. It is also good to become acquainted with the other’s family, if possible. Frankly, sometimes I wonder that people ever manage to get married at all, much less stay in that condition, given all the potential obstacles! But as my stepdad says, if God wills it to happen, it will happen.
Before our midday meal blessing on Saturday, Grandmommy read a short paragraph that has meant a lot to her over the years, about how God doesn’t leave us, but asks us to walk by faith, even when we cannot see the road ahead, or where it leads us in this life. I know she misses Granddaddy and Daddy badly (as do we), though cheer predominated at her birthday celebration. I know for my own part, I wonder whether I will be married any time in the future, whether it will be soon enough for me to able to have my own genetic children (a mixed issue—even should they escape the defects frequent in babies born to older mothers, they’ll almost certainly be neurotic in one respect or another!), what I should do for employment (and any additional education or training that might involve—gack!), where I should settle once the need for staying at my mother’s home disappears (I hope! This largely depends on my finding decent employment)….there really are many uncertainties even in my immediate future. Will I continue to be relatively healthy, or will every disk in my spine collapse, leaving me short, stiff and uncomfortable? None of this can I do a thing about by worrying, but somehow I rationalize it!
My uncle and his step-grandson and I picked pears in Grandmommy’s back yard after lunch yesterday. We ended up with two construction-buckets overflowing with fat gold-green fruit. Her scuppernong vines were absolutely loaded—if I were of a fermenting (rather than just lightly fermented) frame of mind I could have easily had enough for two barrelfuls of sticky dark liquid. Instead, we just stood next to the bushes and ate one scuppernong after the next, spitting out the skins and seeds and swallowing the sweet juice. Grandmommy said that she’d stood in one place the other day and eaten 152 before she’d quit counting. A key reason she’s lived so long and healthily because of all this Edenic fruit in her back yard, I think. I have decided that I am going to plant blueberry bushes and an apple tree (or two—I have to see if cross-germination is necessary) in my new back garden. I like ornamental plants (Mums has already landscaped with these), but my favorites are those which produce edibles. My aunt assured me on Saturday that I can have several decent-sized blueberry bushes from my grandparents’ farm (which she and my uncle bought—it’s a 25-acre version of Grandmommy’s back yard), but I know I’ll have to buy the apple tree, since I don’t want to start one from a seed.