As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD
by failing to pray for you. -I Samuel 12:23
This past week, Jim and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Because of the current pandemic and the “shelter at home” order, our anniversary plans were slightly altered. We didn’t have a trip, ocean cruise, or a big party planned; it still would have been just the two of us celebrating. Most anniversaries find us on the lake fishing (my favorite way to spend them). Because I’d been under the weather, we opted to stay home and have a quiet evening of cherry pie and Scrabble.
That day, I thought about all the people who were at our wedding; so many of them are no longer living. I thought about the music, the flowers, and the vows. Jim and I used traditional vows that went something like this:
“I, Sonia, take you, Jim, to be my lawful husband, to love and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish until death do us part. This is my solemn vow.”
I do have a video cassette of the ceremony but out VHS player has long since died. Anyway, you get the gist of it. Most couples, whether united in a civil or religious ceremony, exchange vows or promises to each other. I know both or our sons and their wives wrote their own vows, which is something extra special and I’m sure they will always treasure.
We also had a traditional Bible verse said during the ceremony, from I Corinthians 13:1-13.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
So, as I was wandering down memory lane, looking at pictures, thinking of our special day and all of the years since, I also came across a verse while doing Lectio Divina, that seemed to fit in with the vows so well.
It comes from Acts 3:1-10. Peter and John were going to the Temple and were stopped by a crippled from birth, who was begging at the temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate. Peter said to him, “Look at us.” The man expected them to give him some money, but instead, Peter told him, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have, I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, walk!’
The first part of that sentence really struck me as I reflected on our wedding vows. “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have, I give you.” Isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that just about say it all? That’s marriage summed up in just a few words, “what I do have, I give you.”
It also made me think about our current situation. We are a month into the “shelter at home” order and being able to reach out and help our neighbor comes with its own set of limitations. I cried when I saw how hard the south was hit with tornadoes and thought how different the response would have been two months ago. How do we manage to care for one another at such great distances?
This is something I’ve prayed about for years. I passed another anniversary this week. It was eleven years ago that I was struck ill and have been unable to work since. There are many times I question God…why haven’t you healed me so that I can be more effective for you?
I think that’s why that verse from Acts, chapter 3, affected me so deeply. Not only because it reminded me of my wedding vows, but because it is a prayer I need to be praying each and every day. No, I don’t have the physical ability to do all I’d like to do for my family, church, community, and for God. I can’t make commitments that require me to head a committee or lead a study, knowing that chances are, I’ll be down that day. But it reminded me that what I do have, I need to give, every day. I have time…time to listen. I have time to study. I have time to worship and most importantly, I have time to pray.
Prayer is the number one thing I can do for my family…for my church…for my community. It’s something I take very seriously. If someone asks me to pray for them, it is a commitment that I honor. Not only praying for those who ask, but for all those who suffer in any capacity. Along with my regular prayers, I pray the Divine Mercy chaplet daily and the Rosary often as well.
God gave me a gift along with this illness: he gave me time. My prayer today is that I never take it for granted and that I use it as He leads me.
I do not have silver nor gold. I do not have physical strength and am often incapacitated. But what I do have, I give to you…for you. Amen.