By Elizabeth Kelly
Make no mistake, my husband is a man’s man. For his “bachelor party” my siblings gave him a day at a recreational facility called “Drive-A-Tank,” where he spent the afternoon with my brother firing World War 2 machine guns and driving an obstacle course in a Cold War tank –complete with a water feature. He has hung the bulls-eyes from that day prominently over his work bench in the basement. It was, he reported, “a blast!” Pun intended.
Once when I was in a bad bicycle accident – something he could not have prevented – I saw his protectiveness toward me unleashed in a way that I knew, he would sooner be fed to the lions than ever, ever let any harm come to me. I have never felt so cherished. And when I ask him to help me around the house – to the wash the dishes, for example – they nearly quake in fear as they know they will be receiving a military grade washing.
But when I had to have surgery on my face – skin cancer had left a gaping hole in it and it required surgery to repair it – he tended to me with the perfect combination of military precision and the Good Shepherd’s gentleness. It was so noticeable in fact, that as I was preparing to leave the hospital on a very hot, humid day, the nurses told my now-husband to go and fetch the car, make sure it was nice and cool before I got in because the heat would make the swelling worse for my wound and this would be very painful. Once he was out of ear shot the nurses gathered around me in my wheelchair and as they pushed me to the door, they said, “We know when someone leaves here, whether or not they are going to receive good or bad care. We can tell. And you are going to receive exquisite care.” And they were right.
One day when we were walking my puppies – it was a very hot day and we had been out a long while – the pups were getting thirsty and we didn’t bring any water or a watering dish with us. My husband improvised. We found a drinking fountain, he cupped his hands, filled them with water, and bent down low to water my dogs. And they, in their complete certainty that he was a good master who would always meet their needs, lapped up the water right from his palms. We repeated this process several times until they were sated and went on about our walk.
This is exactly how the Master is with me. I am busy about the work he has for me and I suddenly find myself thirsting – for him, for any number of needs to be met, to know that I am loved and cherished – and he bends down low to meet me in my need. He finds a way to “water” my soul so that I can go on about the business he has for me. It may not be in the way I expect or in a way that is predictable, but his care is always exquisite, and he will never leave me to perish in thirst. My husband teaches me this over and over.
In your mercy, O Lord, you have seen fit to send me such a good man, a gentle man, a strong man who frequently reminds me how generous you are to your children. And, as an added bonus, he’s Italian. Grazie a dio, O Signore.
~ For Vincent, on the occasion of our wedding.