By Deacon John Degano
I attended a wedding of the daughter of a co-worker recently and heard the familiar words, “For this reason a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home…” And I wondered if the couple truly understood what changes in their lives these powerful words meant.
In the movie “When Harry met Sally,” there is a scene where the newly married couple argue over a piece of furniture. He wants to keep it. She thinks it’s hideous and refuses to let it remain in their house. In the end, the ‘yard sale’ wagon wheel table ends up at the curb.
Marriage is all about learning to compromise so that the beloved is put ahead of our own selfish needs and desires. Successful marriages require each party to give 100%, without keeping score of the times when they had to do more chores, etc. than their mate. In the end, it should all balance out.
Marriage is also about cutting apron strings from your families in order to create a new family with your spouse and any children that come from your wedded union.
My co-worker’s daughter returned to visit her mom a few days after the wedding and went to the refrigerator to get a drink of apple juice (her favorite) only to discover that the drink no longer had a cherished place on the shelf in the frig.
Even her new husband had some unexpected adjustments to make once they moved into their new home. Since it was now an additional twenty minutes away, he had to figure out a way to keep a set of ‘good clothes’ either in a closet at his parents or in the trunk of his car in case they have a party or dinner out with friends that won’t allow him time to go home and change.
Adjustments in life are mandatory.
My wife, Cheryl, tells a story about returning home from college for the summer to find her room had been given to a live-in housekeeper and Cheryl had to sleep on the couch in the living room until college resumed in the fall.
And if this last one wasn’t subtle enough, dear readers, my parents insisted on meeting Cheryl and I at our new home instead of the restaurant where we were planning to eat. They were willing to drive 30 miles out of their way in order to drop off a truckload of my K thru 12 school papers, etc. so they would not still be taking up space in their home another 30 (or more) years later.
In each of these instances, there was a certain amount of dying to the past and rising anew to the present reality and the inevitability of change.
We can not go home any more than Nicodemus could re-enter his mother’s womb and be born again. Every moment of life is precious and can never be repeated. We would be doomed to failure if we tried to ‘re-create’ an experience from our past.
We can only learn from our experiences and move forward with the knowledge and the wisdom gained from reflection.
There will surely be apple juice in the newlyweds refrigerator; a bed on which Cheryl can sleep; and opportunities for me and all of us to learn new things; to enjoy new and cherished memories; and create priceless refrigerator artwork with our children (and friends) in the future.
May we always be open to the Holy Spirit to guide us through our life’s journey, and embrace both changes and new adventures.
John Degano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.