Chapter 22 » 22.34

Marriage and steadfast commitment

I met my husband-to-be, Kenneth Boulding, in the spring of 1941, at the very gathering at which I was taken into membership by the Religious Society of Friends… During our whirlwind courtship (sedately conducted at subsequent Quaker gatherings) I caught glimpses of a new understanding of what family might mean in an era when war clouds were shadowing the world. Not yet twenty-one I was overwhelmed by Kenneth’s idea that through our marriage we were to found a colony of heaven. In that summer before our marriage, I had the awed feeling that I had somehow to reconstruct myself to be a person worthy of such a venture. I was so unready! The summer was already programmed. I was enrolled in a civilian training programme for women, designed to ready us for service in war-torn areas of Europe. At the training camp I struggled to prepare myself for the double task of marriage and community service. I prayed a lot. Could I be ready in time? I know now … that one is never ready for the next step in life’s journey. We learn what we need to know on the road itself.

In joining the Society of Friends that spring forty-six years ago, I committed myself to becoming a peacemaker. But I didn’t know very much about peace-making. Kenneth Boulding, ten years older, served as a teacher-companion-guide. Entering the marriage we both saw our task as creating a home of peace from which to help to build a more peaceful world. When the impatiently awaited babies finally started coming in 1947, the practice of peace in the home became more difficult and challenging than when there were only two of us. But we knew we had to practise at home what we wanted for the world.

Elise Boulding, 1989

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