I have been married fifty years to Barbara, the love of my life. She likes to joke that she caught my attention with a fried chicken dinner. There is some truth to that, but hardly the whole story. The chicken may have won some of my attention, but Barbara’s attentiveness won the evening.
After dinner, and after the other guests had left, we sat and talked till about 4 a.m. as I remember. Probably I talked till 4 a.m. and Barbara got a word in here and there. I was on fire for “world peace through law” at the time. That hasn’t worked out yet, but the conversation was the beginning of the best and most loving friendship I can imagine.
As I learned when we married and the years passed, Barbara is a good listener not only to me but to many people. And I have learned from her how to listen better.
Listening is important. Henri Nouwen said: “Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.”
Barbara also loves offering hospitality, and I have seen many people blossom when experiencing her hospitality in our home. Women and men. It is a treat to be with Barbara in these times, as well as in private times like when she first sat on the couch with me till 4 a.m.
So here’s to Barbara, our children Will and Holly, and all the family we share. Happy Golden Anniversary!