Since our vacation last week, I’ve been forced to rethink some long-held beliefs about what I consider very important issues. The first is pre-marital counseling. I’ve always felt that for most young couples, pre-marital counseling is a good idea.
When I meet with a couple, I make sure they answer huge questions like, Will we have kids? How many? Who is going to stay home and care for them? Will we raise them in a faith tradition? If so, which one? What marriages have we admired and want to emulate? How will we nurture our spiritual lives? What is your love language? Plain or peanut?
I’ve always thought that if you spend a fair amount of time discussing these questions, you will know pretty quickly if your future marriage is really going to last.
Well, forget all that.
Instead, I now suggest that a couple drive a car with manual transmission around the United Kingdom on one-track roads.* The more gorgeous (and hence distracting) the scenery, the better. If you’re confident that your relationship is solid, I will then throw in extra credit of round-abouts, frolicking lambs and/or Highland cattle with adorable bangs.
If this sounds like Scotland to you, then you are correct. My own almost 37-year marriage was strenuously challenged with this test which included the extra credit. I was exhausted at the end of every day. No, I was not behind the wheel, but I was driving—in my mind. I was also constantly calculating who would be injured most—me going over the cliff, or my husband in the head-on collision.
Not familiar with the term “one-track” road? It is a one lane road that has room for only one car. What if two cars are coming toward one another? They have what they call “passing places,” into which the closest driver is supposed to pull over to let the other pass. I truly thought these passing places were spots where people had died. You know—passed on. It made perfect sense since the speed limit was SIXTY MILES PER HOUR.
Honestly, I cannot believe that I have any adrenaline or cortisol left in my body. The biggest challenge came at the end of the trip. The oncoming car who was going SIXTY MILES PER HOUR did not feel like pulling over into the passing place. That meant two cars in one lane. We had to suddenly pull way over onto the shoulder and the bottom of the car struck a large rock. It made a really loud noise—an end-of-the-world type of noise.
The noise was so big that I involuntarily shouted a really bad word with such force that it blew my husband’s hearing aid out of his ear. It went rocketing onto the wind shield and then bounced around the dash board like angry wasp.
Since the windows were down the passing car easily heard me and then he screeched to a stop. But he didn’t stay long—perhaps because he saw the flames shooting out of my eyeballs.
After my heart restarted and it was clear the car was fine, we looked at one another and laughed until we cried.
We drove on and then encountered something which then forced me let go of another long-held belief. I’ve always thought the phrase “breath-taking” was a ridiculous, over-used, illogical cliché. I vowed never to use it.
But then we came around a corner and I involuntarily exhaled and then gasped. I was just stunned at this beauty. Yes—it took my breath away. I whispered, “From whence cometh my help?” No, I did not actually remember that it was Psalm 121. But that night I looked it up.
King James Version
121 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
After reading it, all I can say is that I wish I had read it before we started our trip. Maybe I would have relaxed a bit. Of course the Psalmist does not mean nothing bad or hard will ever happen to us. But it does mean the Divine is right there, surrounding us—like hills.
*Drive on the left, steering wheel on the right, shift with your left hand.