So what if we’ve done it all the ways they told us not to?
We sat in a beat-up old Volkswagon on gravel back road and you kissed me under stars and slipped a ring on my finger and everybody said we were far too young.
Love is stone blind to time — and honestly, any passion in the heart is what has the power to turn back the hands of the clock.
My grandfather said you looked not a day over 15 the day we got married. I took that as a sign of our passion.
We didn’t know how to tell them then what we know now about marrying young: No need to invest in things to bring to the marriage, when you could invest in each other and the actual marriage.Marriage is a commitment meant to form us, not a commitment you enter only once you’re convinced you’re finally formed.
Marriage is something that we learn, like the way we learn our mother tongue.
I’ve learned to say thank you. I’ve eaten too much chocolate. You’ve left it for me under pillows. I’ve told you to stop, stop doing that because it makes the scale tattle tale on us, and you just shrug your shoulder, grin, grab me around a thickening middle, pull me close to whisper it gentle there in my ear, that you love it when I feel soft. We’ve defied convention.
We’ve drove 13-year-old beat up pick-up trucks. 15-year-old rusting mini vans. We lived in a basement the first year and a half of our marriage. The next seven years we lived in a house with no heat to the bedrooms and we lived through Canadian winters. You still have 25 year old t-shirts from the summer we first held hands.
I still wear the same 17-year-old New Balance running shoes. You’ve asked me to cut your hair for the last 20 years. It doesn’t matter a hill of sprouting beans what anyone else thinks, your easy ways have proved it to me:
When you live plainly, your life gets rich.
Rich with generosity and time and loud laughter and humility and unexpected possibility and all this space to love. When you stop caring what others think may be exactly when you start doing what God wants.
I’ve wanted us and wanted you and wanted to run away, all in the same day. You’ve stopped and picked me flowers from the ditches. I’ve left the dishes splay dirty all over the counter and rubbed your back till you fell asleep right there at the table, your plate pushed back with that one cleaned off pork chop bone still left.
We’ve replanted the sweet corn together the last three years. Bad seed and bad starts have never stopped big believers like us from believing in great endings.
With your one hand on the pick-up steering wheel last week, your other hand found the nape of my neck and you let it rest on the bareness there and when you turned and said I was beautiful, for the first time in twenty some years, I didn’t protest.
I marked that moment, chalked it up right there on my heart. Right when I looked into your eyes and I smiled and winked — and I felt the miracle of this. Because it was no small thing: I let the way you see me be louder than the scale, the mirror, the media, the photoshopped magazine covers at the Walmart checkout, the mocking voices in my own head.When a man says a woman is beautiful, her smile always proves that its the truth.
I am learning this. And your smile finding my smile, this is remaking us.
When I look in the mirror, you can see how the smile you’ve given me, has etched right into me, the wrinkles of us becoming us. Go ahead and watch Hollywood try to stay young — we will let our aging be proof that we have let life get right into us.
Go ahead and let everyone wear masks, you said we had to be real: You said we had to go for a walk and talk, when I never wanted to speak to you again. And you let me not talk the whole way down to the woods and home. But you held my hand that night under the cotton sheets.
And you asked me to walk with you every night for weeks, until I found words again. Until I found me again…. all because you waited, and because you didn’t wait to come and sit with me in my inferno and wait. You tucked my hair behind my ear when you found me at the sink.
You brought me home fudge and old crocks from the antique store because you know I love cracked things. Light can only get into broken things.
What makes a marriage better is to keep on going through the worst.
So… so what if we haven’t any of it the way they said you should — we’ve done it the the quiet way He’s made.
And maybe what’s changed our marriage, changed how we parent, changed us most, is simply that epiphany that’s come in the dark after the walks, that’s come in the whisper after we’ve turned down the cotton sheets:
Whenever you want to rant, it’s your cue you need to make a request.
Whenever you want to rant — it’s your cue you need to make a request.
I stopped raving about the state of the mudroom — I requested that shoes get to the shoe drawer… because we are only five steps more to making things better and why not always leave art for the people who come behind? I’ve stopped ranting all about what isn’t, I make requests all about what might be.
And you nod and make me smile again.
You stopped stonewalling (your version of ranting) about that big step that’s spread out in front of us — and you’ve simply requested that I pray. You’ve stopped ranting about what hasn’t changed, and you make requests to pray for what we’d love to change.
And I touch the back of your neck in the middle of the night and I can feel your smile.
When you asked me last night to walk down to the woods after dinner, we went slow, the old swaying dog in front of us, the loud kids behind us somewhere in the dark. You saw the lightning of the fireflies between the trees first -— then all their brave blinking spreading out over the pond.
We stood there in the thickening light, watching the twinkling happening in midair. You found my hand. You made me smile. You and I, we felt this.
So what if we do it all upside down and different, you in your dirt laden Levi jeans that wear our farm, and me in my beat-up old runners that keep wearing our prayers? All the things that seem impossible can become impossibly beautiful.
You and I like blinking lightning in a jar.
[The Conscious Coupling Series will be unfolding here, Lord willing, over the next several months]