Monday, March 2, 2009

one never actually understands the opera

but one leaves it playing on the radio just the same. The drama carries things along.

This week is my spring break (delicious! just in time!), but alas, it is not Josh's. Instead, this week is Josh's Midterm and Church Week. Yesterday he did church work (three services, three sermons [the first one twice], music practice, "fellowshipping") from 7:45 a.m. until 8:45 p.m. Today he took an exam. Tonight he writes a Greek paper. Tomorrow he does the Hebrew exam.

Part of marriage is agony of being with someone, living near someone, caring about someone who has an epic list of tasks that you honestly can't help with. I mean, I helped yesterday: I played piano, I shook hands after the morning service, I made spaghetti. And I sat down at the table on Saturday night when Josh asked me to "writing center" one of his sermons. But for the most part, in times like this I have to keep myself quietly busy doing things that don't distract him from these ancient alphabets and obscure arguments. For instance, it's not terribly nice for me to sit a few feet away wearing headphones and laughing aloud at an episode of 30 Rock. So I (mostly) try not to.

But the thing is, I like to help. It's incredibly difficult for me to stand by watching someone else attack a near-impossible to-do list without getting in on the action myself. When I love people, I want to do for them.

Today I turned all that energy into food. I stopped by the market on my way home from my morning appointments. I made hummus (the best ever, thanks to Katie's old food processor and the recipe on the chickpea can). I braised ribs, parsnips, and sweet potatoes in rootbeer-based sauce, relishing the doing-ness of peeling vegetables and chopping onion and smashing plump garlic cloves, browning meat, settling a heavy covered pot in the oven. And then I made brownies, noting with satisfaction the change in the egg-and-sugar mixture from vibrant to pale yellow after several minutes of beating. After dinner, I made percolator coffee, per the studying man's request, and I served it to him in a Cedarville University 4.0 mug, which is our tradition during bouts of especially strenuous scholarly activity.

And now I will head over to the couch with Native Son, French grammars, and the new Kathleen Norris. I will rest (I am learning to rest), relishing my dishpan hands. I will be still, knowing that he knows that I love him, knowing (ironically enough) that he would have known even if the brownies came from a box and the dinner was mac and cheese. I will sit back and soak in the mystery of this marriage, the truth that we are united, that we sustain each other, but that we still live and work in realms where the other can't quite follow, can't quite enter. His Greek paper(Greek to me) will be fabulous, because that is how he's always been.


  1. I understand how you feel, and I've been on both ends of it. Chris (the guy I'm dating and will probably marry) occasionally has tasks that he has to do - like this week getting all the financial stuff together to put an offer on a house. I helped when I could, to actually find the place and set up the showing and meetings with the realtor, but the financial stuff is his end and I cannot help and try not to distract. On the flip side, Chris isn't in school. I am. So many weekends he volunteers to help cook while I sit in front of my massive Constitutional Law book (or Property Law, Contracts, Poverty Law) or as in this weekend struggle through writing a legal brief. We both know there are parts of our world the other cannot fully understand, either through lack of basic knowledge in the field (Chris is a computer programmer, if he starts talking programming it might as well be Greek) or because much of our careers will have to be kept confidential due to the nature of our work. Yet sometimes having the separateness can be a blessing because it can help remind you that you are an individual as well as part of a couple, and that you bring your own strengths and interests into the relationship, and that is not lost even as the two grow closer together. The differences enrich the unity, creating more of a wholeness.

    Even once school is over there will be busy times for one person while the other can relax. While this phase will pass, in life there will always be busier times for one than the other, no matter the line of work. Perhaps God does that intentionally, for if both are at their busiest during the same time, it would be harder to be supportive of each other.

  2. I know exactly what you mean about turning your energy into food. There's something super-rewarding about cooking something yummy for someone you love. We had a friend over tonight who has been having a hard time, and it was just so good to sit and chat for a long, slow meal of red beans and cabbage.