What St. Patrick taught me

We have our habits now, seventeen years into our marriage.

Friday night pizza. Sunday naps. And anniversary trips squeezed in between the final exams I’m grading and Geneva’s graduation.

Yesterday we went to Pittsburgh’s Strip District to just get out of Beaver Falls for a while. I love smelling the coffee and fresh bread and spices that seem to cover Penn Avenue. (And I love our routine there, too: the coffee, the popcorn for the kids, the trip to the Chinese grocery…)

We had a little time to wait before the restaurant we wanted to stop in for lunch opened, so we added something new by going to the garden at St. Patrick’s church.

As we walked into the only quiet place in the Strip, we stopped on the path in front of St. Patrick’s as the gardeners finished clearing what they had trimmed. We couldn’t help but notice the layers of chipped off paint from his robes, and I thought about the beauty that exists in what looks worn out. Our love isn’t shiny and bright anymore. But it’s stood up and lasted. We have lasted.

And then we found these tiny ferns growing between the bricks in the wall around the garden.

I always tell my students about the theory that we are oriented toward growth. And I point to examples like these ferns, where something that shouldn’t even hang on continues to grow. I’m not always sure about the theory, but I’ve seen its reality in our marriage. Even in the dark places, we don’t just continue to hang on. We grow.

Happy anniversary, Ben. I love growing with you.

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