Friday, July 24, 2015

LONG LASTING KINDNESS

It's interesting that the first mention in my high school journal of one of the boys in AP English class was that he was "really great, so considerate."  The very next day, I mentioned that he was "really going all-out to make me feel welcome--not because of any great interest in me, but because he is by nature considerate."  I remember that he was our basketball star, yet he seemed down-to-earth and accepted with grace the ribbing of several of his classmates who seemed to pepper everyone in their circle with ongoing sarcastic comments.

In October, my mother called his mother to see if I could get a ride with him to school for a bus to a Shakespeare play we were going to see for AP English.  Of course, I was mortified and terrified he would think I was forward, but in fact he was one of the first to get his driver's license and he took several other students as well.  He was outgoing and easy to talk to, and seemed perfectly delighted to drive a station wagon full of seniors to and from school.  

I didn't stay in touch with him after we graduated, but when my beloved husband died, the first thing I saw when I went to the funeral home for the viewing, was a stunning bouquet of yellow roses on the table with the guest book.  When I read the gift card, I was amazed to read that it was from this friend from high school.  That touched me so deeply and confirmed that my first impression of him as considerate was true; kindness was essential to his character and expressed itself in a tangible gesture that left an indelible impression on me over forty years after we had last seen him.  






Thursday, July 16, 2015

ENRICHING MARRIAGES

When we were preparing to become a presenting team couple for Worldwide Marriage Encounter, we were sent to a weekend training session that enhanced our own relationship as well as giving us more tools to help other couples with good marriages strengthen their relationships.
I had become afraid to fly when we moved to California, but God gave me the grace to get on the plane to Houston where the training took place.  

We basically experienced the Weekend again, but at an even deeper level, and learned how all the talks work together to give the couples who go on a Weekend the best possible experience and the most powerful renewal of their marriage. One of the most enlightening experiences was having the participants divided into groups after a personality analysis, so everyone in the group had a similar personality style.  In my group, called the catalysts, we wrote all over the newsprint, with arrows, balloons, and very messy script.  My husband's group, by contrast, was filled with thinkers, who made a neat list of the things they wanted to record, and thought a long time about exactly how they wanted to say it. It was a good reminder that there are many different kinds of people in the world, that we are often married to someone who thinks and reacts in ways that may not make sense to us, but that we're called to appreciate our differences and learn to communicate across what might seem to be a great chasm of misunderstanding.  

Communication is at the center of the Weekend.  We learn to listen with our hearts, without judging, and to express ourselves in more loving ways so we can fall more deeply in love, grow in intimacy, and mirror God's love for his people. There were couples and a few priests from all over the country and all of us had a desire to share the gifts we had been given with couples whose marriages are "just fine" and see them blossom into husbands and wives passionately committed to each other, whose love overflows into their families and communities.  By the time we left, when we ran into several couples from the training weekend at the airport, it felt like a celebration of a family reunion where we all shared a common faith and a mission to help other couples realize how powerful their love can be in revitalizing their families, churches and society.

Friday, July 10, 2015

MOOT COURT

Moot Court is an event that probably only those who have been to law school and their wives or husbands have even heard about.  Students take part in simulated appellate court proceedings, drafting briefs and participating in oral arguments. As opposed to a mock trial, which would include testimony by witnesses, presentation of evidence and cross-examination, moot court centers on the application of the law to evidentiary assumptions which the students will have researched prior to their oral arguments.

The judges for moot court can be law professors, attorneys, or members of the judiciary. Judges can ask questions at any time during the presentation, and students must respond. They need to understand the facts of the case, their arguments, and the arguments of the opposing side.

When I sent a card to my husband's moot court partner and his wife on the occasion of their wedding anniversary recently, it reminded me of the agony that led up to the day of the actual arguments, as they reviewed together and prepared for that momentous occasion. (As I thought of it, I was again grateful that my husband had encountered this young man on the first day of law school, because he taught him how to study, something he had never needed to do in high school, and didn't do much of in college.) I think it was their last year of law school; it seemed to be gathered up with finals and graduation practice and even a little bit of spring fever.  I went with my father-in-law and the father of my husband's partner and my memories are all gray: it was evening, the room seemed dark where the arguments were presented and my recollection is that every man was wearing a gray suit.  I had given up my gray nun dress so I was probably the only spot of color there.

I don't remember if it was a competition, as many moot courts are, but I am fairly sure that they were told that they had done well, because we all went out to dinner together afterwards, the fathers congratulating the sons and everyone in a benevolent mood.  It was one more milestone on the way to my husband becoming a real lawyer. His coolness as he delivered his arguments and answered questions was a good predictor of his performance as a litigator after he passed the Bar Exam and started working at a law firm, when it seemed as if real life had finally begun!


Friday, July 3, 2015

DEEDS OF LOVE

Teenagers, along with two-year-olds, can be among the most self-centered creatures on the planet, and as I struggled to adapt to a new, very different school, I undoubtedly thought that my ordeal was the most important event in our family, and maybe even our small town.  I updated my mother each day with all the details of what happened, who said what, and what I thought about it all. She listened patiently, to her credit, and I would often give a summary of what I had told her at the dinner table, so my father and siblings could also be enlightened.

Since he was serving in a fairly high position on one of the stock exchanges, he was especially interested in what I was studying in Economics, and when my teacher found out what he did, she asked if he might be able to come in and give a talk to the class.  When I look back now, I know he was very busy with a huge project at the stock exchange, but he agreed to come in, even though it meant he probably would have to go in to work late that day, and the buses from where we lived in New Jersey to Manhattan ran much less frequently later on.  

However, he appeared on the agreed upon date and gave a talk which I don't remember at all, except that I'm sure he had one of his standard quips and probably most of the class didn't understand much of what he said.  Nevertheless, I remember being very proud to be his daughter; he was a good looking man who spoke with an air of authority as well as a sense of humor.  I imagine I thanked him, but I realize better now that it was a significant sacrifice for him to take the time to write the talk and give it.  I took it for granted then, but I am thankful that he demonstrated his love for me in deeds, even if I am only understanding it now.