Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Uncle Love

Yesterday, during a quick lunch break from work, I stood in my mom's bedroom talking with her and my uncle about my wedding, what I needed him to do as he finished walking me down the aisle and the words I needed him to speak in tribute during the ceremony.  He was miles away, speaking over the phone and at the sound of his voice I missed him deeply.  One thing I have always known about him that has helped shape me is the poetic nature of this man.  For me, my wedding wouldn't be reminiscient of me or Mr. without poetic tributes - most specifically from this father figure.

My uncle in his conversation was the reminder that I needed - the reminder of the me I have always been but seemed to lose in the hubbub of planning a new life with a man that I am daily knowing and loving more.  My uncle, like a wise sage, has this ability to orate the world, to give voice to yesterday, now, and tomorrow in his eloquent way.  He means the world to me, and as I heard him give an example of his ability to uplift the world by loving someone through words, I sighed.  The day was better for me in just that instant.  All the stress from the day, all the thoughts regarding my job, dissipated into thin air.

Words do that to me.  His words do that to me, like a daughter hearing her daddy's voice over and above everything else trying to confuse and muddle things.

"I want to read something to you," he said after he'd been given clarity about my wedding day requests.

He had written a superhero vignette about his middle grandson, Jaheim, the 5-year-old dynamo that has a special place in my heart as well.  As he elaborately described this little boy's hidden superhero powers (written because he just did not want to see him ever question his purpose or his esteem on this earth), I felt the invocation to be great as well.  He had written this for him, in language Jaheim would understand - the poetic language of superhero-dom.  My uncle, this boy's PaPa, loved him like my grandfather had once loved me, as special and perfect and wonderful (even when I was none of those things).  Tears welled in my eyes when my uncle's words encircled my mother and I as we listened, voice full of love and inflection in tribute and adoration of this boy, son of his boy.

And then, excitement welled in my heart, as I considered the power of the words he would speak in less than a month as I vowed to be an enduring and committed wife.  I was excited as I thought of how he would invoke that same power as he spoke of my grandfather, my grandmother, Mr.'s grandparents, my godfather in elegy.  I had no doubt that this would be the one day that mattered more than any that had come before.  Not because of a white dress or a tuxedo or flowers or rings, but because my uncle's love for me, for family, for life would frame the day.

And that will be enough for me to make that day complete, God willing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Words and Prayers

My first prayer when I considered getting married, as a little girl, was that I would never marry an angry man or a man that was overly emotional about the simplest of things (because contrary to popular opinion, men are and can be emotional; they just display the rawness of their emotions in different ways).  But yet, I desired a man that was able to tap into his spiritual nature as often as necessary, as beautiful as huMANly possible.  Not just the temporal things that made him tap into all those uncontrollable emotions. 

Growing up, I did not see much of that...I saw a lot of running away from spirituality, a lot of denial of God's Presence, a lot of last-minute acceptance when there was no other recourse.  Except for my grandfather, the other father figures seemed aloof from the pursuit of this.

And yet this God I love and believe in, this real and amazingly supernatural God, answered those quiet prayers whispered as 11-year-old eyes witnessed the complexity of the male species in my world.  He sent one.  Others may say God has very little to do with the choices we make in selecting a lifelong partner.  While in form and physicality He may not be as involved, because the embodiment of love can change shape when one man dies and another appears, He is involved in the means for love to find us all.  He intends for love to find us.

I believe that most of all, after meeting Mr. such a short time ago.  Everyday, like a gift, he is unfolded before my eyes.  More of his ability to dig deeper into himself, the most risky move a man can make in front of a woman, is bringing to life the parts of him that once remained hidden from view.  I love it.  I love it the more I see him reveal his heart to me.  I consider it the most priceless gift I have ever been given.

Mr. opened the well-worn covers of the Bible held in his hands, seeking a Word from this God that we both love.  He cracked that cover open and I couldn't help but snap a photo of masculine spirituality at work.  His rough hands held the Book close to his chest as his eyes slowly took in each Word.  These hands work on parts in a factory all day.  These hands pull me into his embrace as his arms hold me close, after this work is over.  These hands have touched many things, but in the moment the picture was snapped the only thing that mattered more than any of it was how he held that Bible.

Mr. tells me about Isaiah 51 - how God whispers the mystery in his ear of why the hard times come and how best to view his role in the world around him.  He says prayers before meals, that do not even really deal with the preparation of the food, the ones that prepared it, though he does mention it as part of the many blessings God so graciously provides us.  What strikes me as rich is how he doesn't customarily recite the words he learned as a child round a dinner table.  He speaks "grown man prayers" as his faith has grown up and he has seen, witnessed, dealt with many issues in life that point to a God that has always walked with him.  Mr. says these"intercessory prayers" and my heart is enamored with the deep bass of his voice reminding God of who He is.

He lifts his hands to heaven - these same hands that have done so much.  And he makes me want to lift mine, repent of everything I have ever done wrong, embrace this God that loves us both - not that I didn't spend a lifetime wanting to do this before.  The thing is, when Mr. does it, the lesson hits home about what it really means for the man to be the priest of the home.  I feel the protection in ways that having to cover myself all these years never really taught me.  Mr. is doing for us both what is in his real nature to do. 

We say a man is supposed to work; you don't work, you don't eat.  This is true across the board no matter what faith you ascribe (subscribe) to.  But what makes my faith in this God above us most true of all is the fact that Mr.'s work, his natural and supernatural work in this earth realm, feeds me too. It feeds me.  I get fat off the work he is doing with hands lifted, Bible held in rough hands, mind and heart internalizing more of God.

He seeks Words from God and then he prays words to God.  When he does this, in his  no-nonsense masculine manner, he reminds me of my grandfather - the only man I ever heard pray before I sought faith on my own.  Mr. reminds me of the past, the present, and the future all at the same time.  Mr. does for me what I need from a marriage.

Thank God.

Friday, November 2, 2012


So anyway...this is the time and the season that the love humming just below my breastbone reminds me what I was waiting for.  We pack up and move on because instinctively we know that we have to accept that nothing is meant to last forever.  And so I am doing that - packing up my life as a single woman, boxing pictures in frames, shoving old clothes and memories and thoughts into garbage bags because quite frankly some things don't need to go to the next place and cannot go to Goodwill so someone else can make memories out of them.  Some things have to go in the bright red metal receptacle outside my apartment waiting with open-mouthed anticipation.

So anyway...I have six large boxes in my room waiting for me to put in the things that I am keeping - books, journals, photographs of babies that are now adults and adults that are in some ways like children again needing care, and words scrawled in notebooks that will never see a bookstore shelf.  They are waiting for me to put my singly purposed life in them, with the intent to be carried to a new location where space will be shared in a pseudo-forever fantasy.  It won't be forever but it will mirror Heaven on earth in its intent.  It won't be perfect but it will pull us closer to the One that pulled us closer to each other.


And so this is me, getting ready.  This is me packing a life into storage containers, as if such a thing is even possible after 15 years of living life on my own terms.  This is the process of saying good bye thankfully to the days when I thought I was in an apartment, forgotten by everyone. This is what other women (and men) traverse through when they are leaving the life of the bachelorette (bachelor) behind.  The path will not be seen again after the vow recitation;  there may be the (God-forbid) journey of a divorcee or the widow, but not the never married.  My hands will hold my life and will place it in a box.

The statement was made that perhaps I was scared, uncertain, fearful of the unknown and the known.  Quickly, "No, I am not" shot from my lips - not because the words were escaping before I could believe them but because this is NOT fear that I feel.  It is awareness that some things are over for good, and that is okay.  Some things need to end in life, though most people want to hold on to the things of yesterday and grab with full hands the things of tomorrow much to big for the grasp.

My mom has talked to me about some definite endings and possible endings in her life, though she has not explicitly used those words.  Her eyes and her words hint at her thoughts.  And the theme has rested on my mind lightly, like gentle feathers.  I watch her and know that as surely as I am accepting the changes in my life, I do not know if I am so easily accepting hers - the presence of the AARP necessities, the signatures needed, the planning in the drawers of her house that will tell me later how to let her life change from what I am currently used to.

Mr. and I have talked about familial expansion so that her hands and his parents' hands can cradle the baby to be born before they are not able to.  This is very important to us because our own grandparents meant so much to us, loving us into a place of being "spoiled" in some ways.  Baby must be loved like this by our parents - a sure gift hinted at around the dinner table.

Still, with each silent moment this weekend, as I pack up life, looking again at things that have to be hidden from view (even after the next location settles me), I will indeed wrap it up.  In a little more than a month, the bridge between "here" and "there" will be crossed.  In my imagination I wonder about how many more things will be different with a second point of view in the considerations.  One thing that has injured my heart in this process (because how could it ever be clean cut?) is the shaking of all that can be shaken: the absence of friends that I chose to release, the need for more solid loves, the defined roles that have to be established now.  This is never easy; it cannot be.

People are what they are; some pulled close have to be released.  I have no tolerance for selfishness anymore, but I understand that I have been selfish once.  So I know what it is like to be human wanting more than can be given when others are already stretched thin.  Some times the ones we love think they know us so well that they want to cross roles and  boundaries in ways that can place a crack in a place that is already fragile.  And I believe that in this journey, this Esther process, the proof of this is exactly what is manifesting.  The sad issue to me is when it is apparent to everyone, it smacks of something that cannot be ascertained or restored.

I have read Esther's story many times over wondering how she went from one life:  relationships, patterns of behavior, lifestyle to a totally separate other.  The past life was not able to intersect with where God intended for her to go next.  She packed her clothes to go live in a palace or a brothel for a king's use.  Whatever friendships she had before, decisions she made before, dreams she had before were all of non-effect once a king came into the picture.  I am pretty sure that like me she was hurt that her friends from the neighborhood, even the ones that she thought knew her well, could not go with her and even their advice had to be left in the place where she used to live.  She almost had to view what used to be advice for nosyness once her location changed.

I wonder as she packed her things, threw away things not fit for where she was going, how she felt about her future.  I do.  Not fearfully or with the thought that I am making a mistake, but with a clear awareness that some realities are transferable while others are not.  I can take "this" with me but because "that" represented some elements of my past (not necessarily bad), it cannot travel down the highway with me.  We talk about transferable skills in a job market or in a place of employment, but marriage is also a place where some skills that were okay when you were on your own cannot be used anymore when life changes again.

So everytihing else either gets packed up or thrown away.  You thank God for yesterday's treasures and even the things you thought were treasures but were really junk.  You thank Him for the lessons in the single state.  You keep it in your heart that you traveled on your own for a season and were able to utilize some major developmental changes.  But now?

Some things just can't go with you to be used later.  There is no recycling of everything in the palace.  Esther's old clothes, habits, friends, and customs could not be used and were discarded.  The Bible does not say that she grieved over the loss of those old elements of who she used to be.  She came into her new life with the understanding that where she came from mattered but where she was going mattered more.

Me too.

Now that is true wedding preparation.