Recently I came across a poem by Paula Zwenger that really speaks to the subject of sacrifice in a beautiful and inviting way – particularly as it pertains to the vocation of marriage. I wasted no time in asking if she would allow me to post it here. Thankfully she said yes – please enjoy her contribution below:
Easing Into the Ordinary
Who doesn’t love a good party – times when you gather with family and friends, partake of really delicious food, and wile away hours in fun and games? Perhaps you commemorate festivities by exchanging gifts, traditional mementos or souvenirs?
Life is full of reasons to rejoice. We make merry at birthday parties, graduations, or if good health and grace allow, high-number anniversaries in our vocations. We may travel different paths to arrive at our milestones, and express our thanksgiving in unique and creative ways based on our cultural traditions, but the logistics of our celebrations hold a few things in common.
Each one starts with preparation, building anticipation proportionate to the length and importance of the feast. Do you need to choose and send invitations? Are out-of-town guests expected? Where will they stay? Who plans and executes the menus for meals (don’t forget that Aunt Susan is allergic to nuts and Cousin Joe is diabetic)? Is special clothing required? Will there be a photographer? What about decorations? ‘To-do’ lists span columns or pages and require many hands to accomplish.
Finally . . . the ‘big day’ arrives! Everything goes off without a hitch (or not). You spend yourself in joy, creating memories to last a lifetime. You may even arrive at this day exhausted by your preparations, but still luxuriate in what goes right, and bask in the joy on faces of those around you. This is what life is about – the very feasts that help make life worth living. Gratitude is simple to attain and acclaim in the midst of such blessing!
Then . . . a new day dawns. The party is over. It’s now time for post-celebration clean-up and return to day to day living. No more dancing in the streets, or aisles, or banquet hall – now you roll up your sleeves and return to work.
As Catholics, our faith tradition provides us with a liturgical calendar of seasons which help to focus our prayers, thoughts and actions. We cherish the beauty of an extended Christmas season, which lasts far beyond the influences of secular society. Yet even with all the opportunity for special feasts and solemnities, we can wax nostalgic for the beauty of the crèche and stockings and beautifully lighted tree as it comes to a close.
In fact, in our house we’ve been known to ‘extend’ this season, as evidenced by holiday decorations, by as long as two weeks into Ordinary Time. If your family is anything like mine, everyone is excited to put up Christmas decorations, but no one is excited to take them down. The house looks a bit empty for awhile when the colors, lights, and precious heirlooms have been stowed away again for another year, out of sight.
This year, once again, I was dreading the chore of ringing out Christmas and ringing in ordinary time. My husband, Patrick, and I had talked on January 6th, the traditional calendar date of Epiphany, about needing to take things down on the following Saturday (the day this poem arrived to be written).
That morning he, an early riser by nature, held to his usual schedule while I slept in. I was upstairs longer than usual, puttering around and reading online articles while listening to the local radio station, not looking forward to the chore ahead.
As it turns out, a plan beyond my own was already in motion. You might say I had a little ‘epiphany’ of my own about easing into the ordinary – which prompted the poem below.
This Man of Mine
I’ve never fully understood, not even ‘til today
how bonds we formed so long ago have blessed us both to stay
It’s got to be a gracing, giving strength beyond our own
that holds this love together all through choices we have grown
You take two different people and conjoin them up for life,
a model tried through centuries, this husband with his wife
He’s not given to praising and perfection’s not his game
but oh, he works in many ways at loving, just the same
Today, for instance, when I rose, ‘to-do’ list on my mind
I came downstairs with heavy sigh and what gift did I find?
The tree and lights, near put away (Epiphany now passed)
he did a chore I didn’t like without it being asked
Some frown at my believing and they wonder at my hope
yet every day, some way I’m blessed with gifts that help me cope
My answer is in trusting full that come good days or bad
this sacramental bonding tarries not as passing fad
It’s choice each morn on rising new to honor and to bless
in ways the other may not know, or ever even guess
I don’t pretend all answers in this riddle that we live
but time and time again it seems we get more when we give
I share with you if you are blue that times can turn around
not Pollyanna pandering but truth that I have found
I’ll write the blues when they appear but sunshine rays this day
right now it’s time to ‘walk my talk’ with no more word delay
I’ll find the chore that blesses him and makes for brighter day
I’ll love it into being and amend my past delays
When gratitude is lacking I will turn my heart to prayer
And offer even that to God who meets me in His care
There’s nothing that I cannot do when guided by His call
In loving you, in loving Him, whose mercy saves us all
Paula Zwenger is a wife, mother, and grandmother who, upon finding herself an empty nester, tried on the hat of rhyme loving writer. It fitted very well. Her joy manifests completely while taking the ups and downs of life and wrangling them into poetry. She also has a passion for creating rhymed treasure hunts with a Catholic flare to celebrate the faith and learn a thing or two along the way. You can find her musings at RhymeLovingWriter.com.