Marriage and the Common Good

Last fall I drove up I-

Last fall I drove up I-93 into rural New Hampshire to visit some old college friends who live in a village near New London. They’re in the business of making a home, as T.S. Eliot says, "to construct something upon which to rejoice," having married, shortly after graduating, at the tender - and nowadays unlikely - age of 22.

Both had been swept up in the post-9/11 anti-war movement. Their relationship developed against the backdrop of an ambitious vision for Christian discipleship in a turbulent global setting, with all its new uncertainties and responsibilities.

Around the hearth of a crackling fire three years later, Dave, Caren, and I talked late into the night about aspirations, the challenges confronting their marriage, and the ways in which they’d grown and changed in their few years together.

Dave desires to pastor a church someday, a context from which he hopes to work against poverty in America and abroad. But when he and Caren were married, they decided to approach this period in their lives as a sabbatical of sorts - a time to look inward and tend to their union.

Caren’s passion for working with children - especially with those who come from disadvantaged economic backgrounds - was cemented by a stint in Romania, where she worked on a local community development project. In recent months, that call has turned to the most personal of commitments, as she now nurtures a life in her own womb.

I stood on their old wooden porch that night and thought about the complicated row my two friends are trying to hoe. They have committed to a life of partnership, with its share of costs and windfalls, in a bipolar society that simultaneously elevates individual choice and goes to the mat to preserve the ties that bind.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2005
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