Have you ever lived inside a National Geographic map? For a year we have moved like push-pins from black dot to black dot all over Europe. Some of those dots of course, stand out as truly exceptional. Budapest is one of them. How it has managed to outlive the ravages of war is awe-inspiring: Ottomans, Catholics, Protestants, Atheists, Communists and Nazis have competed, confronted, and crusaded, but never crushed the city.
As I stood on our hotel balcony last month gaping at the panorama perched above the Danube , I realized that Budapest, colored at that moment by the most fantastic sunset, was more alive and exciting than ever only because Hungarians know too well how to tough it out.
Back in London, I received a text from a wife who was ready to leave her husband. “HE’S NOT WORTH IT,” she screamed in capital letters. “Ever since I married this terrible man, I have been miserable!”
“Are you saying that every day of your whole marriage has been totally unhappy?” My fingers flew in panic.
“No,” she admitted. “There have been good days and great ones too --” (I waited for the “but”…) “but there have been terrible ones like today!” Then back to all capitals: “It’s UP AND DOWN and I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”
Now I know for a fact that her husband is far from terrible and that she has been far from miserable. I know because my husband and I have been working closely with this couple on the road from new member to temple patron. There is something about that fifth principle of the gospel: enduring to the end, which the Adversary takes particular exception with. He concentrates his forces on all of us in that stage of development but especially on those who are green in the gospel or in marriage or in parenthood.
While in Budapest, we walked with our personal guide, Peter Polczman. He told us they’d moved all the statues of toppled communist elites to a park where they have no one to preach to but each other. He pointed out what used to be Gestapo Headquarters and is now a museum. He led us down a residential street where old people sit on benches, watching young people hurry by.
“My grandmother,” he said, as we sat on a stone wall (the ruins of some empire or another), “has seen it all.”
“How did she survive?” I had to know.
“She just didn’t get worked up over things.” (I looked surprised.) “She knew everything would pass.”
Determined longevity clearly takes guts. But is it always the kind of guts that ‘screws courage to the sticking place'? Or can it be the kind that bobs, buoy-like, up and down, anchored in place? At fifty-two, I would agree with Peter’s grandmother: most of what we get worked up over is not here to stay. Our womanly days are rarely catastrophic; they just require coping – which, often enough -- is victory enough.
Mona muses every Sunday at Mona's Gospel Musings and preaches romance in marriage at Mona's Musings with a Hint of Romance. She is the mother of four plus three and the award-winning author or With Mine Own Hand: The Musical Account of Nephi. For more pictures of Budapest and for a daily Hint of Romance, go to Mona's Musings on Facebook.