Chapter Eleven: Blessed is the Couple Who Practices Sabbath

David Hagstrom & Karen Nordhoff

…[A] good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. …[And] once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

Ranier Maria Rilke

Letters to a Young Poet

Our hearts and souls truly “met” while working together at a college in the Midwest. That initial bonding and the gift of 40 years of togetherness have been a sacred grace, a time and space of saying “yes” to everything, all the while being held together by great trust in each other and respect for each other’s know-how and wisdom; deep and caring listening, especially during daily “wine time” conversations; encouragement to live with authenticity and integrity; travel adventures; and dancing in the kitchen.  Our partnership motto is “We work things out.”

Throughout his life as a school leader, college professor, and writer, David has tried to encourage students, teachers, and other leaders to know themselves more deeply and to lead with a servant’s heart. Karen’s gifts of attentiveness, active witnessing, and reflection have found expression in the creation of hospitable and challenging spaces for learning and growth in her work as a K-6 educator, university professor, and facilitator of Courage & Renewal Circles of Trust®.

We live in Portland, Oregon, located in the lush Willamette Valley, and also part-time in central Oregon at our cabin we call “The Clearing,” where the mountains, forests, and high desert come together in the small town of Sisters. Every several years we take a 3-month sabbatical to live in France.