Monday, August 13, 2012
Make of Our Hands One Hand
I don't know about you, but it took me quite some time after my conversion to feel like prayer could be more like a casual conversation than a formal, scripted-type thing. I knew the Lord loved me beyond all telling and took great joy in the simple fact that I was stealing moments for Him throughout the day, but even knowing I could say anything I wanted or felt, I still felt self-conscious. So, I don't know why I was surprised when, if I felt shy around the divine lover of my soul Himself for a while, the most perfectly loving, least critical one of them all, I also felt self-conscious praying in front of Andrew when we first started dating. In the beginning, we took rosary walks around campus most nights, hands in each other's coat pockets. I treasure that newness under the stars. Everything felt so right and so free. Nothing was weird about praying together.
It took ages though, until well after we were engaged, to feel the same level of comfort with more spontaneous prayer. Maybe it's just that I'm on the introverted side, or that my spirituality doesn't lean much towards super vocal outpourings, but prayer really is an intimate thing. I was a little confused--obviously, the Father knows my heart better than anyone on this earth ever could, but while I'm on earth, Andrew is a pretty close second. As close as you can get to the Almighty, that is.
I can't really trace a singluar, clear-cut path of how our invidvidual spiritual lives have become a more shared life between us, but there is a realization that's humbled and enlightened me. It's pretty simple, actually. If you're like me, maybe you've spent ages longing to find a holy, hunky Catholic husband. Maybe you've looked forward to discovering his passions, quirks, and what makes him laugh, presuming all the while that once the "Catholic" box is checked, your spiritual relationship will just fall into place, leaving you free to enjoy learning everything else about him. I did, anyway.
My big realization, though, has been that your spiritual life isn't meant to be shoved off to the side just because you two share the same big picture. You have to foster and guard it. Just like your emotional and phycial intimacy develop gradually, in a way that lets the Lord take His time with you, spiritual intimacy isn't an instant thing, either. Maybe the reason I don't feel like our story has a linear beginning and end (aside from the fact that it's far from a closed book) is that it just kind of happened without our thinking about it, growing naturally as we fell more in love. I'm so thankful now for the depth of the prayer life between me and my sweet husband. Adding our intentions to each decade of the rosary, sharing our insights from reading, Mass, and Adoration, and hearing his voice next to my ear as we pray before bed have become some of my most cherished rituals. It's romantic, too, to know Andrew in that way--really! There's a prayer to the Holy Spirit that includes the line, "enkindle in them the fire of thy divine love." There's such truth in the reality of those words.
Our sponsor couple for marriage prep, two of my favorite former professors, always encouraged us to pray together (they said it at each meeting, and again in our wedding notes), even if it's awkward in the beginning. I'll always remember them saying, "There's no way you can ever fully know another person's soul, but marriage brings you closer and closer to that complete knowledge." Isn't that so beautiful? I thought about their words often, and they brought me such joy at the thought that for my entire lifetime, my husband will constantly be revealed to me in new ways. Every person is a mystery, and what an amazing thing it is to get those glimpses inside.
What about you, ladies? What's your experience with a shared spirituality been like? I'd love to hear about the struggles and the miracles both!