“Love’s Austere and Lonely Offices”

This evening, I’ve been reflecting on the last two lines of the poem “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden. The character in the poem is an adult looking back at the cold winter mornings of youth, recognizing the lack of gratitude shown towards the family patriarch in what the author calls a house of “chronic angers.” The poem concludes with the lines:

“What did I know, what did I know of Love’s austere and lonely offices?”

The line “Love’s austere and lonely offices” is so pathetically true. Love is simple in nature yet there is a tendency to make it something glamorous, something beyond its scope. Something it cannot and should not be. At times, love is austere; it is stern and unadorned. It is silent, hidden behind the scenes.

A friend edits the ending of every fairy tales she reads to her children, adding; “and they worked really hard on their marriage, and lived happily ever after.” She is opening their imaginations to the story between the pages. The real life story of the silent heroes we call mom and dad.

For a child, love’s lonely office includes not understanding why “no” and “not now” mean “I love you.”

For a married couple love’s “lonely offices” are they places they stand without regard to personal pleasure. Because of love, friends and extended family never come first. Because of love, time and resources are sacrificed for things that hold little interest. Because of love, both will fret over whether or not they have done the right thing.

It is love that allows them to disagree passionately without fear that an opinion held too strongly will break them apart. It is love that allows conflict and love that keeps all other opportunities for romantic interest out of sight and out of mind.

Love’s eye is not blind. It is selective. It weighs truth in the balance and understands that no collection of flaws and quirks are superior to the man, woman, or child they have chosen.

Certainly “love’s austere and lonely offices” are not the only offices held in marriage, but they are the sacrificial offices required to keep the flame of love’s temple alive.

Anything You Post Online, Anyone Can See. Think Before You Post.

Have you ever searched online for your name, profile names, or email addresses? You might be surprised by what you find. If you’ve posted anything online, it’s out there. It’s public.

You probably wouldn’t consider posting a tenth of what you post online on a bulletin board hanging in the break room at work or in the faculty lounge at school. Yet, posting on online is a thousand times more permanent than posting on a traditional bulletin board.


Once you post anyone can download, edit, and re-post your words and images anywhere, anytime. None of this is a problem if you do as the Ad Council recommends and “Think before you post.”


Here are a few recommendations:


If it would reflect poorly on your character if it ended up on the front page of a newspaper, don’t post.


If you’re angry, don’t post. I’ve never heard anyone say “I’m glad I was emotionally out of control when posted those comments! If I had been calm it may have limited my ability to reason clearly.”


If you wouldn’t be comfortable with your family, in-laws, co-workers, or neighbors (Current or future) reading your comments or seeing those images, don’t post.


If you are excited to share your travel plans with your friends on Facebook, waiting until your back to post “Had a great time in Costa Rica!” is much better that posting in advance of your trip, “Leaving for Costa Rica tomorrow, won’t be back for two weeks.” There is no need to advertise that your house will be empty.


If you think posting under a fake name will protect you, don’t post. Unless the forum is designed for and expects anonymous users, people have a way of connecting the dots and discovering your true identity.


The Internet can provide a false sense of anonymity and distance that we would never accept as reality in the off-line world. There are some things we post online that we would prefer to see on billboards and in the newspaper, yet it’s the little things we post, without consideration for the big picture, that can cause the most trouble. We will be reading more about this is the years to come.