Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage is available in paperback and on kindle and is being reprinted on Catholic News Agency with author’s permission. Cheryl’s non-fiction book is called Our Jewish Roots: A Catholic Woman’s Guide to Fulfillment Today by Connecting with Her Past.Chapter Eighteen
Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build. Psalm 127:1
Luke was having a much more difficult time with Beth’s absence than he would have thought. The boys seemed a bit more subdued in their behavior towards one another and the house had a vacuous feel to it where Beth’s energy was missing. Luke sat at his desk and reflected on what it meant to be married. It had changed so much in the twenty some years that he and Liz had been together.
Luke had learned from his own father that commitment to one’s family was the highest of traits a man could attain and Luke took those lessons very seriously. They were never spoken and yet were lived out in even the minutest of details in the home in which Luke grew up.
His father was a learned man, a scholar really, who had translated many prayer books from one language to another. Luke had inherited these books upon his father’s death and even though he, himself, couldn’t read them, he treasured them nonetheless. Maybe, he often thought, the fact that he couldn’t read them added to their mystery. He looked at the letters and marveled at his father’s intelligence. How much did you love your faith that you spent countless hours transcribing these prayers with your own hand?
Of course that led to the regret that Luke had not spent countless hours with his father, quizzing him on the life he had left in the old country and the hardships he most certainly endured in trying to set up a life for his family in this new country filled with immigrants believing in the “American dream.”
Could Luke have ever done the same thing? Probably not. And in that recognition resided Luke’s tremendous respect and admiration for his father.
But children will be children and in that way they were all the same. Being a child meant living in a somewhat selfish world where your main concerns were about your life and your well-being. You looked to your parents as having an obligation to care for you and you just assumed they would do these things in the appropriate way. It wasn’t until he met Liz that he realized not all families operated under the same guidelines.
Elizabeth’s parents had divorced when she was but a toddler and both her mother and father eventually remarried. Her father moved to the west coast and her mother remained in the Midwest. Liz never seemed to belong to either family and that pained Luke to no end.
Elizabeth’s step-mother had run hot and cold as long as Luke had known her, until the last few years of her life when she decided that she no longer needed to put on charades and completely stopped communicating with Liz, Luke, and their children. After her death, Elizabeth’s father followed her lead and it had now been years since he spoke to Liz. He didn’t even know his own grandchildren and for that Luke felt he could never forgive his father-in-law.
Liz did a better job in this department, relying on her faith to get her through. But Luke knew it was a heavy burden on Liz’s heart. She had been given a lot of sorrow and grief in her life and now was looking to mend her heartache.
Luke remembered a ridiculous saying from the 60’s, where people often talked of “finding themselves.” Luke frequently mocked the absurdity of it and yet realized, as he sat looking out his office window, that it was exactly what his beloved Elizabeth was now doing: finding herself. And Luke said a silent prayer that the God she loved so very much would be leading the way.
The previous chapters are listed below: