December 5, 2020

For my wife on our 36th wedding anniversary

Scan 1

A poem by Wendell Berry . . .


ScanTo tell a girl you loved her — my God! —
that was a leap off a cliff, requiring little
sense, sweet as it was. And I have loved

many girls, women too, who by various fancies
of my mind have seemed loveable. But only
with you have I actually tried it: the long labor,

the selfishness, the self-denial, the children
and grandchildren, the garden rows planted and gathered,
the births and deaths of many years.

We boys, when we were young and romantic
and ignorant, new to the mystery and the power,
would wonder late into the night on the cliff’s edge:

Was this love real? Was it true? And how
would you know? Well, it was time would tell,
if you were patient and could spare the time,

a long time, a lot of trouble, a lot of joy.
This one begins to look — would you say? — real?

by Wendell Berry
from Leavings: Poems


  1. Congrats on 36 years! My wife and I are working on 35 so far, I was 28 and she was 23, so young! Your picture looks like you both were in the same bracket.

    At times it seems that we’ve ALWAYS been together, and at others it is surprising that it has been so long. We’ve been together longer than the time we have remaining, so sobering. Where have the years gone?

    Here’s to 50 years and a Golden Anniversary for you and your beloved!

  2. Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist says

    Wow, CM, that is one good looking old dame. Petite, all the lines in the right place, a real classic.
    The woman looks nice, too.

  3. senecagriggs yahoo says

    Congrats Chaplain Mike. Kudos to you and your wife for hanging in there.

  4. NOW, THIS poem does indeed to speak to me (and I love the picture as well….my darling spouse of 34 years, 11 months, and two weeks had a black bug as his very first car, and I sported those same blond braids!!!)

    I look back and think that at the time, we considered ourselves so mature and ready–at ages 21 and 23. Now, I am surprised that the state of Maryland allowed children to marry……

    Thank you for allowing us to share in your joy, memories, and hope. Sometimes it seems that America has totally given up on the idea of marrying the love of your youth, with the firm knowledge that it is a promise not only to one another, but also to the children, grandchildren, the church, friends, and God Himself. Thank you for reminding us that we are NOT alone in this journey….and continued blessings on yours, as well!

    • Pattie, that was a good week. Jeri and I are 34 years, 11 months and 11 days. Ours was Jan 5th—yours must have been the 2nd?.

      And it was a Datsun, not a VW. The distributor bearings failed and we spent a lot of the honeymoon at parts stores and junkyards. In the rain.

      Marriage has been better than the honeymoon.

      • Mine was a ’65 Riviera. It was fine as long as gas was below .35/gal

      • Ted, I “rounded” the numbers….our date was December 29th, the Saturday between Christmas and New Years. Both of us were active duty Army by then, and it was the ONLY time we could get leave together, when neither unit was out on training maneuvers!!!

        It DID mean we could file our taxes as ‘Married, Jointly’ for 1979, and that we were technically married in the 1970’s.!

        Mazel Tov to you and yours, as well!! 🙂

        • Ah, yes, 1979. Hostage crisis in Iran, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Moral Majority, Skylab plummeting in little pieces, high unemployment, and 18% interest rates. Congratulations on your marriage surviving all of that.

          Not that 1980 was any better. But Jeri and I are still together.

          And Happy Hanukkah to you, too!

  5. The true indicator of your lasting love – the wilingness to wear matching plaid shirts at an early age.

  6. Beautiful pictures..Congratulations to you both. I love the poem.

  7. I am always amazed to think of marriages that have lasted longer than my entire life to date. God grant you many years!

  8. Duane Young says

    CONGRATULATIONS! Just finished 37 last week–and say for a certainty it keeps getting better, even with the limitations of age! Thanks for all you do here at IM.

  9. Beautiful poem. Great photo with the matching shirts. I’m guessing your kids have given you some grief about that:) Happy Anniversary and many more!

  10. Congratulations to both of you from all of us Zehners.

  11. Congratulations! I love the photos, particularly the one with the car. So cute!

  12. To Mike and Gail from Mike and Gayle; congrats on the 36th!! It’s been 37 for us last month.

  13. Sylvia Jones says

    God bless you two. I seem to remember that little car when it seemed to think it was a 4-wheeler and got stuck pretty good. Love and congratulatios to you both.

  14. Mike, you and Gail haven’t really changed.

    And I bet you wish you still had that car.

    Congratulations on 36 and may there be many more.

  15. Aww… nothing said said “true love’ in the 70s like those matching shirts! Congratulations!!

    We are moving in on 35 years this spring.

    Heck Pattie, by 21 and 23 we already had a baby of our own. The State of Ohio was happy to marry my beloved and I exactly one week after it gave me a high school diploma..we were 18 and 19.

    When the above mentioned baby decided to get married at age 22, we had to laugh at the number of people who said ” But they are so young” 🙂

    • Awesome……we ‘had’ to wait for me to get out of college, which I started at age 16 in my eagerness to be with my beloved!! He was at a military academy, so getting married in school was out of the question—he would have been expelled and my father would have cut off my tuition and board!

      Our baby did not show up until I was almost 24 (infertility issues, we started “trying” on our wedding night!) and HE also married at 22….he and his bride are now at 10 years with two boys of their own!

  16. Chaplain Mike,

    God’s richest blessings on your 36th anniversary. I was touched by the pictures and the poem.

  17. That Other Jean says

    Congratulations to you both! We celebrated our 47th this year, and occasionally marvel at the fact that we’ve been married more than half our lives. What a long, strange trip it’s been. . .and we’re hoping for longer yet. Many more happy anniversaries to you, too.

  18. David Cornwell says

    Marge and I pass our hearty congratulations to Gail and yourself. Celebrate– it’s a feast day! Time passes on so quickly, and it’s milestones become ever so important.

  19. I second all the other comments! Congrats, and thanks for sharing the pics and the poem.

  20. Thanks, CM. Congratulations and Many Years!

    We’ll be 36 in May.


  21. Dang! Didn’t we all look great in our early 20’s !?


  22. Congratulations CM! Valerie and I celebrated our 36th anniversary this year also. And 37 years ago today, I popped the question and still can’t believe she said yes. There truly must be a God for me to end up with someone as special as Valerie. I’m sure you would say the same of Gail. And my … where did those years go?

  23. Congratulations, Mike! And many more to come! You both look so very groovy!

  24. Wonderful photos. Congratulations and many years!

  25. Congratulations to you and your wife, CM.

  26. Happy Anniversary to you and your wife, Chaplain Mike. Wonderful photos . . . thanks for sharing with us. 🙂

  27. Wishing you another 30 years of love and happiness, Mike!

  28. Congratulations Chaplain Mike! It’s always a joy to see a couple that has fought the good fight (in more ways than one!) and persevered. Whenever I see a marriage that has endured, I’m reminded of these words from the Jill Phillips song, “Any Other Way”:

    When we first met, love was a feeling
    But making it last, that’s a decision
    A good decision

    When we watch the kids run through the yard
    Sometimes I just can’t help but think
    That every bit of what it cost
    Was worth it for this family
    ‘cause I wouldn’t have it any other way
    I wouldn’t have it any other way

    Congratulations again and may God continue to bless you and your lovely bride!

  29. CM, profound congratulations to you and Gail! And not only you two but all those here, a rather astounding number, who have similar success stories. (Scratches head, mutters, “How in the world do they do that?”)

    I am on wife number three and we maintain a civil relationship by living twenty miles apart. In retrospect I just wasn’t cut out to be a husband or father, but it’s a little late for that, and in any case I might have fared even worse if I had stayed single. To my mind, being married or being single just involves a different set of problems. And the older I get, the easier it gets living alone, if you don’t count two dogs and a cat.

    So hats off to the bunch of you! I’m guessing a lot of hard work and determination was involved, and you all have my utmost respect and admiration.

  30. Congratulations, CM, to you and your bride of 36 years. May each coming year be ‘For better…’.

  31. Matching shirts!

    Congrats, CM.

  32. I had to return to congratulate ALL of our I-Monk long married travelers!

    It is no small thing in this world of divorce hook-ups, and others challenges to our covenants that we have all dug in and held tight to our promises. For Tom and I, it has been mostly love, but often friendship and sometimes just God and holding to vows.

    We are challenged, but also very, very blessed to have our partners and the Lord by our sides…!

  33. Congrats on 36 years!

    I’m coming up on 15 myself in February (doesn’t feel like it). Been doing lots of photo and negative scanning lately and enjoying the old memories.

    May you have many more joyful years together!

  34. 36 years? That don’t add up! You are clearly younger than my folks, which means you must have gotten married in like 8th grade or something. Congratulations!

    Beautiful poem. Time does tell a lot indeed. I’m only 7 years in, and this girl is clearly the real deal. God bless her for everything she puts up with.

  35. Congrats CM! My wife and I have just reached 3 and a half years and I hope & pray we will be still going strong together when we hit our own 36th anniversary!