“To put the matter in one metaphor, the sexes are two stubborn pieces of iron; if they are to be welded together, it must be while they are red-hot. Every woman has to find out that her husband is a selfish beast, because every man is a selfish beast by the standard of a woman. But let her find out the beast while they are both still in the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast'” ~~ G. K. Chesterton
Valentine’s Day is not a holiday to observe, but a sequence to savor. It is one moment to push pause among other quite ordinary moments, and really see the other, and in the seeing learn something that changes yourself. Knowing that my wife is not fond of crowds and cliches, I arranged a private celebration for two days before the actual holiday in order to express my appreciation of the woman that she always has been and the wife she chooses to be. I have a friend who owns a retreat center on the northern edge of the Texas hill country, and gained his permission to drive my wife to a high place and give her a view as her Valentine’s gift. I packed the Jeep with everything we’d need: vintage picnic basket filled with appetizers and beverages, blanket for the anticipated chill, binoculars for wildlife viewing, and a gift bag containing something she mentioned weeks ago she would like. We drove just over thirty minutes from Waco, turned left on FM 182, then entered through the gate and climbed up the gravel path that winds steeply around and up one of three tall hills in the area. We stopped atop the highest point in Bosque County with a panoramic view that included a magenta sunset just over our right shoulders. Deer that looked like miniature figurines crisscrossed farmland down below and Kestrels flew like sentinels near our perch. Unrehearsed and uncomplicated, it was a great way to pay tribute to her and us.
A war is raging in this country over the meaning of love and marriage. While our nation struggles to define it, I rejoice over the honor of being husband to the most wonderful woman in the world. To be honest, I’ve not always been so positive about marriage in general, and confess that my wife has everything to do with my revised view of wedded bliss. Daily I’m humbled by our common life, and the uncommon love I receive from the tender woman who chooses to share her life with me. The fact that Jo Beth said “I do” all those years ago can only be chalked up to temporary insanity, but may the madness continue a lifetime and beyond. My wife and I are still in the story, and never want it to end. No doubt I caught my Valentine in a weak moment, but I’ll never let her go.