Before God and this gathering, I vow from my heart and spirit that I will be your wife/husband for as long as we both shall live.
I will love you with faithfulness, knowing its importance in sustaining us through good times and bad.
I will love you with respect, serving your greatest good and supporting your continued growth.
I will love you with compassion, knowing the strength and power of forgiveness.
I will love you with hope, remembering our shared belief in the grace of God and His guidance of our marriage.
“And at home, by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be–and whenever I look up, there will be you.”
(our wedding vows for our September 19, 1981 wedding at First Seattle Christian Reformed Church — the last line adapted from Thomas Hardy’s “Far From the Madding Crowd”)
I want to remember us this way— late September sun streaming through the window, bread loaves and golden bunches of grapes on the table, spoonfuls of hot soup rising to our lips, filling us with what endures. ~Peter Pereira from “A Pot of Red Lentils”
I cherish the moments that are most basic, plain, and simple and have the best chance of happening again. I’m not talking about exotic travels, nor the extravagant meal out, nor the once in a lifetime experience. My most cherished moments are everyday, and I store them up to fill the decades full.
Most cherished of all is “that look” that says “I want to look into your eyes forever and get lost there.”
I am lucky enough to know what that feels like. I get that butterfly in the stomach feeling anytime it happens. My husband held my eyes with his from across a room early in our relationship, and thirtyseven years later, he still holds them when he looks at me, even over bowls of soup at the kitchen table.
And I look at him just that way as well. The eyes say what words cannot. The eyes don’t lie. The eyes never change even though the years bring gray hair and crow’s feet.
It is what endures. I want to look at you forever, just like this, just as you are, wherever you are because of who you are.
Suddenly it is August again, so hot, breathless heat. I sit on the ground in the garden of Carmel, picking ripe cherry tomatoes and eating them. They are so ripe that the skin is split, so warm and sweet from the attentions of the sun, the juice bursts in my mouth, an ecstatic taste, and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer, sloshing in the saliva of August. Hummingbirds halo me there, in the great green silence, and my own bursting heart splits me with life. ~Anne Higgins “Cherry Tomatoes” from At the Year’s Elbow
Is there another sensation as blissful as a cherry tomato bursting inside my mouth?
Yes, I can think of one or two.
But never like this, when restoration is needed in the middle of a sweaty hot day, in a garden that needs weeding, when all else feels lost.
We humans contribute to the world’s gloom,
like dark shadows on a dark landscape.…
But now this man from Nazareth comes to us
and invites us to mirror God’s image,
and shows us how.
you too can become light, as God is light.
What is all around you is not hell,
but rather a world waiting to be filled with hope and faith.
This world is your home as surely as the God who created and wrought it is love.
You may not believe it, but you can love this world.
It is a place of God.
It has a purpose.
Its beauty is not a delusion.
You can lead a meaningful life in it. ~Jörg Zink “Doors to the Feast”
In this dark world we search for inspiration and a sense of purpose in the most unlikely places:
this past week, we were awestruck by the devotion of a mother killer whale in nearby Puget Sound who has carried her dead baby on her nose for over a week, unwilling to abandon the lifeless body to the sea.
There is tragic beauty in such demonstration of profound love, a recognition of our own losses and helplessness in the face of death.
We too are carried by our Savior through His relentless devotion and love for us, never to abandon us.
Even in the face of loss and consumed by the darkness of the world, we love as we are loved, body of His body.
HOW TO SWIM AN ELEGY
Lo, let that night be desolate;
let no joyful voice come therein.
Let them curse it that curse the day,
who are ready to rouse up leviathan.
How joyful to be together, alone as when we first were joined in our little house by the river long ago, except that now we know
each other, as we did not then; and now instead of two stories fumbling to meet, we belong to one story that the two, joining, made. And now
we touch each other with the tenderness of mortals, who know themselves: how joyful to feel the heart quake
at the sight of a grandmother, old friend in the morning light, beautiful in her blue robe! ~Wendell Berry “The Blue Robe” from New Collected Poems
We have been grandparents for over 17 months, mostly from a great distance of thousands of miles, but today I get to actually hold this growing and precious grandchild in my arms on my 64th birthday.
During these many years, to love and be loved as a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a mother, and now a grandmother with whitening hair, is the greatest privilege and blessing of my life.
And to think, this tenderness these two new grandparents feel in our nearly four decades together, this loving as a grandmother in a blue robe, is the most wonderful gift of all.
Not long ago on winter mornings
Waking dark to part
From your warm side,
Leaving behind my soft imprint,
I wrap up in my blue robe
To walk the gravel drive
For the newspaper
Our hilltop farm
Lies silent amid fallow fields
Broad across my path
Star sparks overhead
Tree lined yard shields
The house from road.
In ink of early morning
I walk noiseless;
Step out to the mailbox
Then turn~ startled~
Approaching on the road-
An early walker and his dog
Illuminate me in dawn disarray
Like a deer in headlights:
My ruffled hair, my sleep lined face
Uncovered in the darkness;
Now this birthday summer morning
Wakes me early to streaming light
Poured out on quilt and blankets.
I part from your warmth again
Readied for ritual walk.
Dew sparkling below
Rich foliage above
Road stretches empty
For miles east and west
Crossing to the mailbox
I reach for the paper
Suddenly surrounded by
A bovine audience
Appreciative and nodding
Riveted by my bold approach
In broad daylight.
Yet abruptly scatter, tails in the air
When in rumpled robe and woolen slippers
I dance and twirl
In a hilltop celebration
Of ordinary life and extraordinary love
It is at the edge of a petal that love waits…
The fragility of the flower
penetrates space ― William Carlos Williams from Spring and All
It is too easy to look for love deep in the heart of things, up front and center, at once showpiece and show off. We think of love as reverberating from within, loud enough for all the world to see and hear and know it is so.
But as I advance on life’s road, I have found love is quietly waiting at the periphery of people: so fragile and too easily bruised and torn – clinging to the very edge of our lives. It is ever-present as it protects and cherishes our core, fed by fine little veins of grace which branch out to feed our tenderest margins.
Love dwells on that delicate edge of us – that exquisite, ethereal and eternal edge of who we are.