Sunday, August 17, 2014

A letter to my future husband (for real this time)

Two years ago, I published my first-ever "Letter to My Future Husband" (read it here), even though I wasn't sure he existed. Today I offer the second letter.

Dear Steven,

I am not accustomed to being wrong.  Teachers always praised my apt answers, and friends have lauded my accurate intuitions. You, maddening man, have taught me that I have been wrong more times than I count on all sorts of things. To my surprise, I am finding that being is wrong is much more beautiful than I ever would have guessed.

Consider: I was wrong when I imagined that this summer would be mostly about teaching online courses and writing a conference paper. I was wrong when I thought I could never meet someone I loved more than my job. I was wrong when I thought it would take me years of knowing someone before I would be willing to marry him.

On the day you proposed, we had eaten lunch in a soup kitchen, helped an elderly man weed his community garden plot, and waded up to our necks in the river that runs through Austin. I had realized, weeks earlier, that if I were ever going to marry anyone, it would be you, but I was still trying to understand how and when such a thing could happen. And I knew, on some level deeper than I could explain, that you were grappling with the same questions. At the same time, I was increasingly certain that you would ask me to be your wife. I imagined the question coming somewhere in the future, somewhere in an appointed season, the kairos of our intwining days. Even so, in chronos, the moment itself, I was stunned. I think you were, too.

When I said yes, we both laughed and cried, bewildered and joyful to find ourselves on the threshold of a parable: a life together that, we pray, will grow into a picture of the wedding feast of Christ. We prayed underneath the hot sun and the cool green tree, and then remembered that we had left your car with your friends, and that we needed to find a bus to take home. So it's been since our first conversation: a perfect collision of the sublime and the ordinary, the marvelous and mundane.  


When I told the news of our engagement to my friend Emily, she nearly dropped her baby. Having stilled the child, Emily laughed. "I feel like Sara from the Bible," she said, "hearing the news that she will conceive."   And then, as I told her about you--about your revolutionary work with farming and the homeless and community, about how I admire your faith, your capacity for vision, your boldness, your strength--the laughter moved from her lips to her eyes. "Oh, I've waited so long to meet the person who could captivate you," she said. "I knew he would have to be someone amazing."  I hope it gives you joy to think that not only I, but my friends, have been waiting to meet you for a very long time.

Our friends. They love us so: even as they have sputtered with shock at our timeline, they have toasted us, prayed over us, asked us hard and necessary questions, hugged us, cried with us. Some of them know they story as well as we can tell it, others are still reeling from the mere news. Even so, they trust us, and they have told us so. More importantly, they trust the God we love. They know our choice, our partnership, will drive us deeper into the heart of God than we have ever been before.   


When I bought my house, I set aside one room as a place for God to work.  I called it "Spare Oom" after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I determined I would not fill that room with my possessions or my plans, but that I would wait for God to fill it with a good story. Kala was the first answer to that prayer, and she brought so much joy with her. We both knew, of course, that her season there would be short, that she would go from Spare Oom to somewhere else. But that, of course, is the point of Spare Oom. In the Chronicles of Narnia, Spare Oom isn't a place you stay: it is a threshold, a place that leads you to a world you did not imagine possible. When I gave that room to God, I thought I was consecrating a physical space for hospitality, but in fact I was opening a space in my life. I was saying, "Don't let me fill my life only with what I can plan or understand. Don't let me spend my time and money only on what pleases or amuses me. Fill my world with others and with friends. Invade my tidy home for the sake of your kingdom." By bringing Spare Oom into my house, my life, I allowed God to lead me to an unexpected door. When I said yes to you, I stepped through the door. Before me, I see an unfamiliar landscape: beautiful, strange, and yet it somehow feels like home.

Love ever,


Friday, May 2, 2014

After two years

After two years, you have not forgotten their names. You remember where they sit in church, the classes the teach, the house where they live. You remember bluebonnets and firewheels, Texas roads, and where to find peppers at the grocery store.

And yet, after two years, you have forgotten so much. The timbre and pitch of their voices, deeper than you remembered. The grip of their hands--soft, hard, wide or wispy--when you say grace before supper. You have forgotten the length of their stride on a morning walk, how you must quicken your steps to keep pace. The harmony lines they take with the hymns. Their taste for greens, or peaches. And perhaps you have also forgotten their tempers: the quips and picks that are not just, the insecurities, the subtle rivalries. The messy desk or the favorite mug. The songs they hum in the car.

It feels nothing like betrayal, this forgetting. You almost wish it did, for then you would have a reason to beg their forgiveness, to love them more for the grace they would extend. But that's a friendly heresy, and you know better: that forgetting is like wind and rain, in turns gentle and severe. Or it is like a fast when the bridegroom has gone away, a preparation for the feast when he returns.

Among such friends, you forget it has been two years since you were in their arms.You marvel as you remember, remember, remember, like watching the characters in a much-loved storybook step off the page, turning from word to flesh.