I’m not Catholic but I do follow Pope Francis on Twitter. I’ve always been quite conflicted about religion, but to me –Pope Francis epitomizes the very spirit of Christianity, the type I idealized as a young child growing up in predominantly Christian Indiana. He inspires me. Today is Valentine’s day and Pope Francis tweeted the following, “Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.” I’ve never been married and not even engaged – unless you count the twist tie I was once sent in the mail taped to a piece of paper with the words “Will you?” scribbled with #2 pencil. I was young and I did still believe in marriage and by gosh, I wore that twist tie on my finger all the way through my college summer break. It was the summer of 1991 (yes, showing off my age) and I was working in the kitchen of a Bob Evans. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the most sanitary thing to wear that twist tie around my finger while preparing other peoples food, but wear it I did…until it fell off. It wasn’t a new fancy plastic twist tie you can now find on loaves of 7-grain organic breads. It was a metal wire and paper twist tie, the ones you could find when it was still acceptable to eat Wonder Bread – white. (Wonder Bread now labels its white bread “Classic White”, by the way.) It would be another 20 years until I would believe in marriage again and well, despite having a wedding date, a venue picked, a Pinterest account set up solely for the planning of flowers and colors, and a ring in his possession — I would never see that ring, but I imagine it to be absolutely perfect. And maybe it is perfect, perfectly meant for somebody else. In fact, maybe some young man bought it at pawn and will be getting on one knee tonight. I hope so. Because whether twist tie or a vintage beauty, in the end, it’s never about the ring or the wedding.
This morning, I drove by this Home for Sale. It’s easy to imagine how grand this house, built in 1890, once was in all its glory. Someone built this home with love and great attention to detail.
This house is now vacant and is selling for $29,000 “AS IS”. But reflecting upon the words of “His Holiness Pope Francis”, I couldn’t help make the analogy between this old house and marriage–how marriages, like homes, are built with such initial excitement and faith in the future, with love enough to envision filling decades full of warm memories. And to be honest, I still believe in marriage, the possibility of couples making their dreams come true together, because I see it happening every day in the lives of family, friends, and within my larger community. It’s possible given a commitment to a little every day maintenance (and sometimes grand rehabs) with love somehow big enough to see it through each day, year after year. Or else, certainly, a couple might wake up one day to find their house beyond repair and soon, left abandoned “AS IS.”
Marriage has been a hot topic in Indiana and across the country, what defines a “marriage.” Yesterday, attempts to ban gay marriage in Indiana failed. For now. I’ve always been a proponent of gay marriage but not because I’m “liberal” but because I must admit, the deepest part of me is very traditional. Marriage can be a heart’s home, where you build a new foundation, put all your dreams in it, and love enough to commit to the day to day maintenance. To me, it’s the most beautiful leap of faith and it’s worth preserving, no matter the builder or the dreamers.
In my reflections on the words of “His Holiness Pope Francis”, on this Valentine’s Day, “Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness”, I noticed he didn’t take the opportunity to define which “people” could find happiness in marriage as long as the marriage is “faithful.” When we each tend to our own homes, to the every day maintenance of its keep, we create beautiful homes and beautiful homes make beautiful neighborhoods and beautiful communities. Maybe tonight, the ring once meant for me, will be given to a woman by another woman. To me, this is just as beautiful. Any two people who love each other enough to still take the blind leap of faith into marriage, deserves our support, as we’ve been shown, it’s a difficult task to maintain a beautiful home.