Dr. Deborah Scerbicke is a great friend with whom we share prayer, great discussions on many subjects, food and physical exercise. We have given her carte blanche as our guest blogger this week. Rita & Bob
“No genuine friendship can exist just for itself. It is meant to flow over for the benefit of humankind” William Roberts
How do all of us, regardless of our state – single, married or religious—live out our baptismal call to live with an undivided heart and share the benefits of our relationship(s) with others?
Often in the Catholic tradition before Vatican II, we placed greater esteem upon chaste love—yet our baptism calls us to holiness and sharing the benefits of our relationships with each other. God created us to be social beings—we need each other. I am blessed to have friends who are living in each state of life—committed married, single and religious. Each live their life through a web of intimate relationships. Here I wish to speak of how married couples in my life have lived out their love to benefit others.
I was blessed as a young person to meet Jim and Linda Lewis who married a half century ago and live a life of care for others. My Dad died when I was a teen and they both have helped to care for me and my family in so many ways- with spiritual support, cheese sandwiches at the mall, car repair or the toilet that hates me in my townhome. As I sit with them each week at Mass –I am part of their family. They care for others and reach out to the world around them. Equally, as a young teacher I was blessed to meet Jean and Dan Doherty –for over thirty years I have had a strong spiritual underpinning and friendship with them. Now retired to New Mexico, they share a life of service. Dan teaches art to the youth in the prison and Jean sings beautifully with senior groups and visits nursing homes and hospitals with their beloved delta dog.
The most profound influence in my life right now is Bob and Rita Boeke. We often think the undivided heart of a chaste brother, sister or priest to be the ideal but the “real” I have experienced in the love of this couple has transformed my life. I met the Boekes through Rita as a faculty member and later Bob joined the faculty also at a Catholic high school in northwest suburban Chicago. We have gotten to know each other by working together and we also share common roots—she served as the department chair of religion and before becoming an administrator an I had been a religion instructor at another high school in the Chicago area. Over eleven years our friendship deepened and about a year and a half ago Rita challenged me to follow through on my observation that I needed to lose weight. We began walking together daily on the second floor of our high school. I lost over twenty-five pounds and it resulted in the deepening of our friendship beyond weight loss. (Some students even served detention by walking with us –receiving the benefit of our mutual cajoling and encouragement and the order to keep up with us!) Rita is an inspiration—when one thinks of what one desires in a friend I have been blessed with Rita. Yet—there is so much more! Where there is Rita there is Bob. Bob and Rita are a living example of sacramental love –they reflect love, fidelity, stability, kindness, faith and embody the real of married life. Bob is a man’s man—strong, kind, loving and he can cook too! As a woman, I would love to share my life with a man who shared Bob’s character of fidelity and love. Their love is faith embodied –I see the face of God in how they live out their sacrament of marriage in all their relationships. It is not perfect but it is real, caring, and humorous—they build each other up and in doing so build up those they are in relationship with.
As a part of taking care of myself, I had a routine mammogram in mid March and discovered that I had breast cancer. When someone tells you that, it turns your world upside down. I have a good family, but as a single person I was faced with who to turn to. There was no question. It was Rita and Bob who offered me the kindness of their love, care and home after I had surgery this last week. It was Rita’s face that was the last one I saw before surgery and the first I saw when I woke up. I am doing incredibly well with a wonderful prognosis and life before me. I have marveled during my recovery of how my life is intertwined in a web of relationships—how all our lives come together and how we can uplift, encourage and care for each other. My senior students at my high school supported their Dean by breaking the dress code and wearing pink to honor me! Supporting the Dean by breaking the rules—how appropriate! How through the grace of God we can take care of each other. Rita and Bob’s love has been at the center of this for me. They live their marriage vows daily in how they care for each other and those around them. We attended Mass on Sunday and I went to Eucharist behind them –they stood side by side as they received our Lord’s body and blood—they live Eucharist with their lives. Through their sacramental love embodied in their marriage vows, lived each day in their lives and the lives of others they touch, they are Eucharist. Their love challenges, encourages and enlivens all their relationships with an undivided heart.
What married couples in your life have lived their marriage vows with an undivided heart? Please comment.
Deborah Scerbicke, Ph.D.