What a beautiful morning to take a walk. The temperature is 75 degrees, and it is a sunny day. How have you been? We need to ask that question of each other because so many people feel, as my son said to me, “These are bleak times, Dad.” Did you ever read the novel by Charles Dickens entitled Bleak House. It is the story of a long battle over an estate, and it ends up with a frustrating bleak ending. No, I am not going to tell you how it ends but only read it if you have a strong constitution to finish reading a book. We need to be very conscious of each other’s feelings for this is a lonely time for so many people. It is also a fearful, fluctuating time because of the pandemic and the state of our free America. It is a time to seek to brighten spirits and to see hope in the future. It is time to resign many of our woes to a loving God and to be optimistic of our future.
I have not walked with you for a little longer than usual but that is because we have been away to the Churchtown Inn in Narvon, Pennsylvania. The proprietors of the Inn were celebrating their fiftieth anniversary, and they asked if Dale and I would come and be with them. We have been very sheltered during the past months, and we both wished to visit and be with our friends of sixteen years. In the many years we have travelled to Amish country, we have never had a more difficult time going and coming home. At first, I was at fault.
We left later than usual and decided that we would stop in Hillsborough, New Hampshire for breakfast. When I went to pay for the breakfast, I found I had left my wallet and car keys at home. We were a half an hour now from our home. My truck will tell me if I do not have my key, but it did not tell me that because Dale had a key in her pocketbook. We had to return home. That meant we had added another hour to our trip. We arrived in Churchtown at seven o’clock at night and were given the key to our lodging, separate from the inn for that night. It is a beautiful stone house, but when we were unpacked, Dale discovered that the bag holding our toothbrushes, combs, medications etc. had been left at home. It was now nine fifteen,CVS was fifteen minutes away and closing at ten o’clock. Dale locked the door, putting the key in her pocketbook, so we thought, and off we went.
The clerk at CVS was anxious to go home right on time so Dale rushed to procure all we needed. Then we returned to the house where we were staying at about ten thirty. Dale could notfind the key. She emptied her pocketbook; I even searched all my pockets. No key. We called Jim at the inn – he brought all the keys he had and none of them fit the door. Eventually the housekeeper was called and awakened from her sleep, and Jim got the key. Dale and I went to bed a little after twelve. We were even now – we had both made mistakes. Then there was the return home.
There is one place on the best route where the traffic is always horrendous. For more than a couple of miles you sit and wait, sit and wait. On the return home, I asked about how to avoid that part of the road and how to come home by driving on just major highways. We did that and what is normally four hundred miles home ended up being five hundred and forty. That was my fault. We arrived home exhausted at close to nine o’clock.
Now Jim and Chris had made fifty years with life together. Like all of us they have certainly had trying moments. But their marriage survived – and so will Dale’s and mine. Because of my age, we cannot have fifty years together on this earth, but I’m looking forward to an eternity with her. Like most couples, we can argue when either one or the other is driving. Dale drives me crazy sometimes with her comments on my driving, but I do the same to her. Frankly, I think this is the third place of trouble in a marriage; it goes money, sex and next the way each person has suggestions or screams when driving on the road. Do you know as tired as we were when we finally arrived home, we still had nice things to say to each other? We went to bed and slept soundly.
The lesson on our walk today is that God did not create perfect human beings. Don’t you think it would be difficult to live with a saint when you and I are sinners? I know Jesus admonishes us to be perfect like His heavenly Father- but I think that means to strive to have a perfect love even though it might be unattainable. It is love, as imperfect as it might be, that keeps a marriage together, and it is love that makes peace with our neighbors and our family. So, in these “bleak times”, let us strive to love each other more perfectly. If we will try to do that, we will have hope in the future. There will come the day when we will hug each other again and shake hands in friendship, but in the meantime if we seek to love each other and be kind, this bleak time will become one of sunshine.
I never quite know what we are going to talk about on our walks – I certainly was going to talk more about our two days that we had in Amish country that were without the pressure of driving so many miles – but that will wait until another time.
Congratulations to Chris and Jim on their fifty years together. May they have many more. And congratulations to all couples who strive to have a more perfect, selfless love. That takes a strong love for each other and being close to God.
“ And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”