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Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

“It’s just going to take a lot of Grace from both of you. A whole lot of grace given by both of you to get through this.”

~ A. B., November 2012

I was busy. I didn’t want to talk, to answer. To open up to seek & find because I knew my own cracks. To hear again all of the ways I was “not.” I had the list in multiple forms from multiple times given. But I did, at first moving boxes with the phone pressed between shoulder & ear, because I was working & there were deadlines. Then while lifting tub filled with serving tools & napkins, the air shifted inside the humid shed & I sat heavy with unspoken apology, in unseen humility, towards him.

His voice was genuine. His concern authentic.

He spoke of a role, of covenant, of grace.

I heard him tell of his burden to teach, to lead. I know this rightly is his gift.

I counted the slats in the ceiling, listening, inhaling his words. Using a broken pen to scrawl his words on a cocktail napkin to carry, which I did in my pocket for weeks, well into holiday, before it pilled and ink from the broken pen stained my hands when I touched it.

I’ve read that when Jesus was stabbed by solider’s sword on the cross, the Holy Spirit was released, Grace came rushing, into the battlefield of our lives.

And that’s what I think of now. I hear the rhythm in his voice, the words unfiltered, speckled with the language of men now when I must recall to steady myself in the world’s wind blowing up threatening storm.

And I whisper “Hey” to him for the volume of his voice to rise. I whisper prayers with each exhale acknowledging Satan in the list being given again, in my never ending desire for Grace to move in. I whisper, quiet inside, “Dear Holy Spirit, I know you’re here somewhere. You are welcome here. Please wrap us tight in armor, gird us so we can remain open, fearless.” I near whine, drawing out the word ‘Please” again and again because words left me. But all I hear is a haunting echo as I look to the ceiling, counting slats. I remember the pilled napkin. The one whose ink stained my hands.

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It was a competition. Truly at its core it was a competition, but not like the ordinary learned competition – that of man against someone or some thing bigger outside like in barfights or bear attacks or in a boat on the ocean during a hurricane. It was more simple that than and more complex. It was woman. It was me.

It was the fourth, officially day 1,460 of yes acceptance in good and bad, in sickness and health, in tripping over shoes in the living room and struggling for a Windex sparkle clean and words to express. It was a long day for me, filled with spreadsheets, floor plans, impossibly small font and the task of weighing and measuring not just these. And I thought at 4:30 that I must do something. Tangible. With a bit of whimsy silly. A bit of sentiment. A bit of filling up gently, steady. A bit of saying something without using words. Something to bridge the growing gap and buttress a weariness also growing.

With an ordinary pot roast, something we Midwesterners serve on a busy Tuesday, a few candles, scrap wood, yard roses so different from their shop cousins because they show the wear of wind and rain and children bumping past and through, and honeysuckle vine dripping sweet nectar on an generic fruit filled tablecloth, I stood slowly to the challenge against self, pulling up from the boot straps snug around weary ankles to create a celebration. From all I had within my grasp, I set about to create feast.

And I could feel myself lift from the cheap seats of whatever-world to the field. The girl’s eyes were alight. The small boy smiled shyly. On a Tuesday.

And I spun rose petals so the bruises were hidden on the bottom.

And I tucked vine around and through candles gathered from other rooms.

Once, I thought, in a fit of silliness, candles dripped down the front of long bureaus and into drawers. Was that pre-ring? Or early-ring?

These wicks enflamed and sizzled the dust away.

As I fixed plates, the children asked questions of why and how on a Tuesday. And I told truth.

I told of how God made Adam and Eve to create the first covenant. I told of how children added texture and depth and how they were brought into this covenant to bear witness, to learn and grow it bigger. This glory is what is craved, I said. To create like this and spread wide. I told of how the commandments said to honor it in so many ways. And that right now I was trying so hard, with all that I had in my bone, to gather the pieces of fumbled days and celebrate. I smiled at them and told them open over potatoes being mashed that I hoped I was doing a good job as a bride, as a wife, but was fearful so I prayed those places away which is what one does, I said, when an ache becomes searing, when something must be done. And this brings glory too, I said. To pray. To lean.

And I said all of this in that way that comes hushed because of the absence of flourscent light over kitchen island. In candle light, all feels like a secret revealed, doesn’t it? Something mysterious maybe? Something sacred? And they pushed in and they blushed and got out the ketchup.

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She smiled and told of her days, of the pills given to remove pain and curve towards normal, of the sleep that was meant to rest a purged body, of the procedure coming where ash would be made inside places once fertile then swept clean.

I watched her face and those blue eyes. Her lips were still the color of delicate baby bellies, I thought, that have never felt the sunlight burn. And I wanted to scoop her up like that baby and rock her in such a way, to such a place sweet and filled with flowering vines and green whorls, where clear admiration and love comforted tired places and lifted on wings.

“In hindsight, I can see how he tried to take care of me,” she said with a bright open tenderness. “He made chicken and spinach with thick cream sauce and roast beef and brocolli. He kept telling me to eat.” She giggles and tosses her hands out from her body. “I didn’t know until last night that he was so worried. He told me I looked like shit when I got out of that shuttle.” She laughed again with water in her eyes.

And I watered too in the presence of such a love story. Him, man of the earth, using skilled hands and all his strength to protect, nourish and comfort the weariness coarsing through her veins. I can see his hands chopping and clipping and adding leaf at the precise time needed. I can see the tendrils of steam rising from plate, whispering the messages in air in the language they share.

There are no great things, only small things done with great love.

~Mother Teresa

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I did the math while riding in the car, using the calculator on the phone.

1, 460. That’s this year’s number. I said yes 1,460 times and that feels too low. I worked it again being certain I punched the correct numbers. Yes, this is the number.

***

I have watched them from the kitchen window for nearly two weeks now. Out of a tangle, they rise and unfurl bright yellow. Like the subtle notes of a stand up bass, one could miss them, looking at the neighboring heirloom roses whose delicate petals wrap up romance infinitely in imaginations, and only see their fading.

They are the yellow of ginko leaves that fell once in the fall when all felt new. In bright late summer sun, I watched them slip from above with each gust, wrapping me gentle and puddle to my feet. The ginko or Maidenhair is prized and sacred, symbolizing longevity, resilience, hope and peace.

Geisha pull up tight and fan their hair into its delicate shape. So do sumo. The delicate love and pure attention given by these women and the men who battle in its name, attempting to grasp and protect its beauty creates a full circle, a balance, yin and yang.

I gathered courage and leaves that day and brought them to you at your house.

And I carry them with me here in the palm of my heart where wind gently whorls them alive.

***

I have whispered yes like a mantra over the past year. Certainly this number has doubled with my returning to that promise made in azalea bushes.

The earth smelled wild and fertile like a field from my childhood. The sun was bright. The words were spoken low and halting.

I wonder some times if only the petals heard, that those present knew the words in heart and heard their own voice repeat them inside and not ours like I do at weddings.

There’s an echo there, inside that chamber where covenant is whispered. The resonance filling until all is as bright as the sun and as full as the bowed branches heavy with bloom on that day, reflecting from me the words “Yes, I will.”

I shake my head returning to the chatter of children and my husband’s stoic face as he navigates the backroads around an interstate jam.

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“And as I watch your chest rise and fall, my hands tremble at the miracle of life I am witness to every single day.

I have both raged at God and fallen before Him in thanksgiving in the midst of this journey and my love for you has taught me that faith is undefinable, that love is the cornerstone in all the great mysteries of this life. I do not have any more answers than when we began…”
~Kayla Aimee,  From A Letter to My Daughter @ kaylaaimee.com

“The children are a part of my sanctification,” I said to a girl last week. “They have taught me so much – about anger and sadness, about healing and forgiveness, about being a part of love deeper than oceans and wider than skies.” I remember looking up, wondering if I had gone too far with words labeled lofty and cerebral.

“I just don’t know if I’d be a good mom right now,” she said.

“That’s crazy talk,” I said, remembering the words slung at a twenty something me late one night at work. We were putting merchandise from a cart back into place on the shelves. She turned, holding two nerf balls, and looked at me hard over the cart – “I just don’t think the words ‘Mom’ and ‘Cindy’ go together.” Her words crept in when I was first pregnant. And when I lost that child, I fought the idea that they might be true. I fought hard.

I looked at this girl then into the sky with its scant clouds and fast wind. “I think you are,” I shrugged. “I mean you know the basics – diapers, feeding, and stuff. The rest you learn as you go so you’re always the best mom for your children at that time. You grow together, you know?”

When I walked into the building, holding the door for her, these words slipped in about a faith and a love that are mystery. I have raged at God, too, I remember whispering into the glowing screen. I have bent low in repentance, bent lower with gratitude. I, too, know little more now than I did when I first held my new sticky babies and when I finally wrapped my arms around two taller walking boys gifted to me over Easter eggs and rising bread.

I walked the stairs up and smiled to myself because I watch, not only my children breathe dreams in beds, but also my husband.

“Maybe the words ‘Wife’ and ‘Cindy’ don’t go together,” comes the thought. I sigh heavy, hearing the echo of my footfall in the stairwell. I think of Jesus and Peter, on whom the church was built. I think of how Jesus said to him, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block.”

When my sweet husband sleeps, his eyes don’t close completely. It’s as if he’s watching out through amazingly thick, long lashes to make certain nothing sneaks up on him. His arms are crooked on his chest like bird wings in that fast wind and his legs are long, stretched straight and taunt. His chin is always tilted up and out from the mound of pillows. My hands tremble here too.

I sat and sighed hard, thinking of us and lifting high while bowed low in that deep wordless sort of prayer a wife has for her husband only.

Now I think of the story told last night about the mason. He was picking up pieces from the pile my husband was clearing to use as the guides for the corners. He said in broken English that this was his job, to let my husband know he was supposed to be there. I fully listened to the story of how my husband nodded reassurance, how the broken pieces that most considered were trash were used to bolster the corners of the new house for tomorrow’s work of laying brick, how the brick has to be laid straight and level with the foundation.

I carried that story to bed with me. I laid there thinking of the mason’s hands and these words. I could feel them swim in blood, pump through my heart and rest into white bone.

___
Thank you for swinging by this week’s In Other Words. If you would like to link up, simply slip your link in the comment box below. I am traveling home today so my response will be slow. Thank you for your mercy and grace.
All thru Him,
Cin

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I’m not a true Valentine’s Day kinda girl. The flowers, the candies, the cards are all fine and good, but when the day says “You Must Give In Order To…” I dig in obstinantly.

In my twirling attitude, I enjoy picking curb flowers while wandering along with the wind whipping my hair crazy and decide right then and there to bundle this fuzzy yellow and this star white up tightly along with some pine straw for contrast with a remnant of string and hand deliver them to an empty desk chair. It is a normal Wednesday whose month and number contain no significance.

I pick up packs of candy without the red cellophane and raised bow on the box and quietly deposit them in the refrigerator because I know you like this particular proportion of chocolate and peanut butter above no other cold. I know when you open the door, scrounging for something and see them on top of the yellow egg carton next to the left over mac & cheese, you will smile and say “Sweet” on a Thursday in ordinary time.

So one week ago when the day came, I sighed obligation and thought of gifts to give.  I thought of how I normally pull to the left just off center, missing the mark. I thought of how the smile is strained in gratitude. I thought of books you had mentioned and other things. I thought of dripping cards and silly cards. I even looked at them in the pillaged aisle that morning when I went to fetch the cupcakes, required I learned for that day while tucking in the night before. I opened a few, glazing over airbrushed flowers and cartoon hippos laying in a floating bed with snarky word bubbles hovering, then got lost in the fact that the envelopes behind many did not match the card presented. I chuckled at the irony.

When you mentioned dinner out, despite kids, I soared. Not because of day but because of the offering of time dropped into my bucket. I wanted that time, that attention given, over the chaos of schoolhouse chatter, dish clang, and History Channel lesson. That’s my language – time. I needed it.

Then I saw the flowers and heard briefly the story of mission to three stores, all of which didn’t have white daisies. I thought of my empty hands. I heard the hollowness of the bucket clanging as true desires rose and decisions were made. I thought of the aisle where folded colorful stock was shoved by desperate hands cockeyed into slots. I thought of how nothing matched.

The next day I felt the sharpness of I-did-and-you-didn’t. I thought of how the card rep with her rolling product bag showed up that morning to pull all of the mess down into tidy piles and put up the next set of greetings that granted luck from glossy shamrocks.

I thought of post-it notes with messy hearts scrawled and put on the windshield of your car in the fluttering wind. I thought of the text messages sent with the single word “love” or “Love” or “lOve” depending upon which keys were pushed while juggling of folders or calls.

I’ve been looking at the calendar, mapping days forward and looking back.

Today is an ordinary Tuesday. On the calendar there is no reminder in italicized font at the bottom of its square. I guess you could call it Leap Year Eve, if a signifying mark was desired.

But it is one week after that day now swirling through messy mind. In hindsight it’s easy to see how things lined up neat.

The candy was hand delivered Sunday after a walk to the store with children running through the grass making wishes on dandelion fluff. I heard your thank you and saw you deposit those left into the fridge.

The flowers appeared on a whim yesterday wet with spring rain. The air smelled of earthworms wiggling to the top and my slippers got wet when I stepped into the yard to pluck the thick daffodil and jonquil stems. They spun bright when I put them in the cupholder of your car.

There will be no search for envelope because there is no card stamped and written by a manufacturer with my face and my thoughts so specific. The words simply float above my head daily in a bubble while doing dishes or serving rice with extra butter like they do now.

“I know your jackets need to have

two side pockets, your pork chops are

straight up BBQ –

no extras. When your hands

are messy with clay

or ink or paint, I know your mind

is searching for God.

Do you feel it? I’m praying messy

found for you too.”

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The world is dark and dripping steady when I walk outside to tend to animals and fetch tihngs from the car to put in my suitcase. I fly in a few hours. Even though it’s a turn around trip and I’ll be home tomorrow, lists still scroll to insure I’ve not forgotten anything and nothing is left undone.

Then I hear it loud through the rain. I look up and exhale, laying list down. An unseen dove is coo-ing. The knowing presence can be just as comforting as the visible.

Then another joined in matching pitch and rhythm to become one. And I joined too the the pair, deep inside echoing the call and feeling its lingering echo, in the steady fall of rain.

Her words came flooding back. She was teaching the end, which really should dictate the middle and the beginning. She laughed loud and said “Never forget we are the bride. Jesus is the groom. And a groom never leaves his bride behind. We are Jesus’ bride, y’all! And a groom never leaves, never forgets, his bride.”

My daughter, who was sitting a few seats over, looked quickly up, concern written in her eyes. I beckoned and she came to lean in. “Mama, I thought you were crying.” I simply nodded and kissed the top of her head, unable to find words to reassure her. Because I was, into this same chasm.

I sit on the broken steps and the cold rain splashes onto my slippers. The street light side of the crepe myrtle glistens wet. All of its peeling bark is made smooth and illustrious.

I think of Peter stunted. Not knowing what to do now, he is piling nets at the shore, when he appears and asks if Peter loves him. I can hear him huff when he repeats again that “Yes, Lord, I love you.”

I think of how he stepped onto rough waters from that boat to get to him. To be beside. I feel him slipping deep into that crashing water before Jesus grabbed his hand, saving.

I believe there is more than this gathering and piling. I believe in groom and bride and eternal love covenant reflected here as best as it can visibly, knowingly.

And I long like these doves’ song. I’m jealous of their joining here in the dark and the wet pre-dawn light.

I wonder who started the song. I wonder if it was her this time calling for him. Did she simply sing out on faith that yes, he will come to sit beside, to guard and protect and love, as written? If he hadn’t come, would she still have called, but with a lonely longing and searching? Would her song have become hallowed and not hollowed?

Their wings sound heavy as they lift rounded bodies from the branch. I hear each sweeping motion taking them higher, louder than the dripping rain, but I still can’t see them.

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