I was young when I married for the first time. And there was much about the significance of a wedding I did not understand.
The wedding of my friend, five years later, lingered with me. What made it so different from my own? The white dress? The crowd of people? The elegant food? No, it was her family. That was it. We had had no family at our wedding.
At the time, I did not think it mattered. I believed marriage was simply a union of two individuals. I didn’t understand how that union affects a whole family. Until I saw at my friend’s wedding was how deeply the event affected her sisters, brother, aunts, parents, and her whole community. It mattered to them.
My friend would not consider getting married anywhere except in a church, I agreed it would be prettier, warmer, than a civil ceremony. But I came to see that it is more. For them, for her family, the wedding was a holy sacrament. It was the union not of two individuals, but of two families who would be joined as one through the children who would come.
I thought at the time that I was pretty smart. In fact, I was ignorant. I did not know what really made life meaningful, what made it beautiful. I am very glad to have grown up.
This is not mine, but I give it to you anyway…
“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world, but a world lives in you.” [Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth]
Susie is my friend. She is the embodiment of joy. She teaches me to dance in the sunlight and to dance in the rain. Right now I’m praying for Susie, and giving thanks for her radiance. I pray equally for me that, in her shoes, I’d be dancing, too.
Here’s what Susie says:
“It’s snowing now, some of the flakes as big as walnuts. Flakes? More like flunks. I walk out among them, together with my four-footed furry friend and we are instantly covered in white. Winter’s beauty wraps around my heart and lifts it to the height of trees overhead. All of them, the most ordinary amongst them, is glorified in every branch, every twig. Just as I am uplifted in the midst of cancer’s storm.
It is your love and prayers, your hugs and kisses and cards that shower me with glory and keep me from falling into despair. Oh, dear ones, how I appreciate your support at this time. I felt some despair this morning after a chemo orientation. So much material to digest, so many plans to make preparing for so many months of discomfort!
But, you know me. I don’t spend a lot of time on that. I have to get back to celebrating! Whoopee! I’ve made it through this far and love life so much. It’s exciting just thinking about having more years to enjoy it. Thanks be to a gracious and loving God and to my caring friends. Now is waiting for me to pay attention to it, and now is a happy, beautiful, winter’s afternoon.”
“I couldn’t put it down; I stayed up for nights on end to read it.” That’s an almost universal response to my book, “Twelve Stones,” a humbling and gratifying response.
But something else I hear all the time – from people who know me personally – is, “I didn’t know that about you! I never dreamed you’d done those things!” I hear it so often it makes me wonder how well we really know our friends.
We think we know them well. We assume a lot. But they have changed. You and I have changed. And our opinions have changed, too. So anything we think we know about our friends, or even of ourselves, “is only a snapshot of a passing moment.” And the only honest answer we can give to the question: “Who are you?” is: “When?”
“Crazy for God
” by Frank Schaeffer (Da Capo Press 2008), p. 391
I stand on the deck overlooking our garden sloping down to the street. It is dry and brown, the bare branches forming sculptural designs. It is tempting to imagine how it will be in spring, the lush leaves in countless shades of green, color bursting from azaleas and rhododendrons and hydrangeas, from flowers everywhere, all so thick and full you cannot even see the ground. Tempting to dream about the sky turning from gray to brilliant blue, the sungold light rays through the trees. Tempting, but…
The time will come for that. It is not now.
This day is what it is and I rejoice in it. Just as I am not who I wish I were, I am simply the imperfect person that I am and the better person that I am becoming. I rejoice in it. I give thanks for the beauty that is before me, just as it is.
Today is what it is and I am what I am. Tiny buds and whispers of green foretell that something glorious is unfolding within both of us. But I will rest in what is now.
We don’t have to spend a fortune on clothes or furniture. We don’t have to keep up with the latest trends to look stunning. Fashion flair is a question of good taste, knowing what to put together, how to select something stunning – even when it’s not expensive. I’ve been in homes – mansions, actually – where enormous sums of money are spent and they were not the least bit attractive. Taste. It all comes down to that innate artistic vision which, like all forms of art, is a gift from God.
As a believing Christian, I am horrified by the barbaric and dangerous rhetoric flying about regarding our President. People are selling hats and tee shirts saying “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109: 8,9” — verses which say:
“May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.”
This is truly scary stuff. In addition to being ugly and dangerous (inciting violence), it’s been broadcast all over the news media, thereby sending a broad-reaching witness to the non-believing world that Christians are hate-filled, dangerous maniacs.
I beg the leaders of the Evangelical Christian community, people with access to the media, to speak out loudly and firmly in protest against such unchristian action. People who spout this kind of poison spread shame over all the Christian community; they portray us as hate-mongers, no better than the Taliban.
In politics, the issue of abortion is important. But Jesus also cared about the poor, the sick, and the helpless (widows and orphans). We should too. If we really follow our Master, we will love even those with whom we disagree and speak always, as He did, in love.