a year of morning thanks
An old friend of mine, well read in fiction but not sociology, once told me he'd come to believe that seven marriages out of ten were just plain awful. Five of those ended in divorce, of course, while two more, just as bad, managed not to, perhaps just for the kids or out of the naked bullheadedness of its loveless combatants. Eight and nine were tolerable; "we could have done worse"--that sort of thing. But number ten, he'd say, was the only number ten, so to speak.
The number tens were the ones dreams were made of, the ones that all of us aspired to, the ones that create those gaudy, elaborate rituals we call "weddings." Only one in ten of us got that kind of lifelong joy, he'd say, but then he was himself divorced, a fact which always made me think he was rationalizing.
I don't claim to know the numbers; maybe sociologists do. I won't even venture a guess about the old guy's speculations. What I do know is that the number tens are an inspiration to all of us, even those of us who are number tens.
Last weekend we celebrated with a couple who set the standard, forty years' worth. The Lord only knows what happens on the inside, but I'd bet most of the farm that in this case at least, if we know them by their fruits, we know at least that those fruits are premiums, nary a worm or even a brown spot. If apples, honeycrisps. For them, the phrase "forty years of married bliss" doesn't have the feel of hyperbole.
I live in a college town, where kids fall in love constantly and then display their nearly uncontrollable passion anywhere and everywhere, even--maybe especially--in church, where such longings simply may not ignite into the fits of heavy-breathing some of them, at least, come to almost fear. It's sweet, really. To old folks like me, they're an inspiration--they make me smile. But then, I suppose most all of us are number tens when we start the hike.
I don't care. I'm thankful for all the number tens--forty years or just forty days and nights. Love is good, almost divine.
But this morning especially, I'm thankful for good friends who are and have been and likely will be--at least by all outward appearances--bona fide good lovers. They're an inspiration.