"...She pulled me close and said
Don't worry about a thing
Now let's just keep our eyes focused on our dreams
We may not have what we want
But we're holding everything we'll ever need..."
My husband, Jeff, sent me this video of Concerts in Your Home artist, Daniel Walcher's "Dishes in Her Dress," (you might also like this, easier to hear the lyrics, black&white version) and it made me weep. It was one of those big cathartic, soul-cleansing cries where you find yourself caught off guard by something beautiful, and you've got your elbows on your desk, your face in your hands, and sobs are escaping from a place so deep you forgot it existed...or, that you even had it in you. It probably has something to do with the fact that he sent it from the city where he lives ans works, over a thousand miles away...and that I haven't had much sleep lately, but that said, I miss him. He is in Boston because he loves God, his church, his family, and he wants to live his life with purpose, while he cares for his expanded family's needs.
People ask me all the time, "How are you guys doing, with Jeff out of town so much?" (During the first seven months, we had him home for a total of ten days.) And for the most part, I can honestly say that we are fine. We love eachother. We are blessed with a marriage that is 90% living, laughing, and loving everything that crosses our path, with abandon. We talk on the phone a lot, and we confer on almost every family decision that needs to be made. I am grateful he is doing what he loves, and that he feels a clear sense of purpose every moment. I wouldn't have it any other way right now. So why write about this?
Because, I want to. And because I want to go on record as having said that my life at 55 years old is still very full of genuine happiness, affection, and joy. I want you to know...whether you are 18, and think your parents are too old to care about being in love (like I was at that age...sorry mom), or you are 75 and think you are past the point of ever being able to return to the days listening to love songs with a keen ear, buying Hallmark cards, and finding flowers at the doorstep (no, mom, you aren't!!), love never becomes less lovely with time.
In my fifties I am enjoying being "in love" with someone who makes me laugh like a child. He is my best friend. He is my biggest fan...and I am his. I just enjoy his company so much that when he leaves, at the end of one of those rare weekends he can break away from his work and come home for a few days, I actually feel his leaving as an ache inside. I cry at the airport, and I drive home wishing I could just turn the car around and pull a Dustin Hoffman in the back of the church in "The Graduate" screaming out his name and pounding on the security glass that leads from the terminal to his gate, begging him not to leave. I do feel these things. I hope I always do. I don't want to, or expect to, grow out of this love.
I do not drop him off at the airport, and afterwards say, "Well, that was a nice little visit, now back to work!" Oh, I eventually get there...but not always before I reach the front door of our house, walk to my office, turn to the Bible for a reminder that "this too shall pass", and that "to everything there is a season." Some days the seasons feel like they are dragging...and this one often feels more like a long cold winter, rather than a cool, sweet, autumn day full of apples and brightly colored landscapes. But, and this my real point, it is in these very moments of missing him that I most remember to be grateful. Sometimes it takes me by surprise that I do, at this juncture in my life, actually FEEL this way. I am profoundly grateful that I am living in the rich space of this great love, and his gentle company. And when I do remember that this marriage is, quite simply, an amazing gift of grace, then all the sadness disappears. I surrender to God's care, and bask in the realization that I could never even have imagined it for myself.
Jeff and I do our best at being away from eachother, when we, as Daniel Walcher sings, "keep our eyes focused on our dreams" and acknowledge that this space of mutual focus, is the "home" we share day in and day out...no matter where he is.
This is the "room" where we hold eachother. This room that holds our dreams. Dreams about how we might bless the world by "staying on purpose," dreams for our children, and every child, who desires an education, the right to live above the poverty level, and to experience the warmth of a family, our dreams for people everywhere...that they might know the love that passes all understanding and feel the transformative power of God's love that heals.
And when it gets too hard, and I miss sharing ideas and discussing insights with my partner over a cup of tea, I honor our love by finding someone we have shared hopes with...a friend who devotes herself to environmental activism, an educator whose mission it is to put a new textbook in the hands of every inner city child, a couple with dreams of adopting from Africa and building alliances with other like-minded parents ...and meeting them for coffee, a great conversation, a game of Scrabble, or to discuss a favorite book. He does the same thing where he is...attending folk concerts, working on his book in a busy Starbucks, or having lunch with a friend who loves contemporary spirituality as much as we do.
This doesn't change the fact that I miss him. But it honors a love that has surprised, delighted, and made grateful this white-haired teen-ager in a 55-year old woman's body.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, next to the marginal heading, "Spiritual Wedlock," Mary Baker Eddy says,
"The very circumstance,
which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive,
Love can make an angel entertained unawares."
I'm taking her at her word!
So, the next time Jeff comes home, I will do dishes in a dress. I will be so grateful. I will not pretend to be more "together" about all of this, than I am, but I will share with him, pray with him, and find peace, not just in the circle of his arms, but in the security of those prayers. I will tell him, more than a few times, that I love having him home, that his presence in my life matters...alot, and that I thank God everyday for a partner who loves me, our children, the mission-based work that we do, and who makes me feel like I will never be more beautiful than I am at that moment.
Many couples, and their families, are facing hard choices these day. The economy, a war overseas, and an ever-expanding global workplace has forced us to stretch our sense of what it means to be "close," to clarify the differences between wants and needs, and to hold onto what is important, while letting go of all that never really mattered anyway.
We are all going to make it...if we remember to "keep our eyes focused on our dreams...thanks Daniel for the song...
Nana, you have raised a son who is a prince among men...thank you. Loren and Jeremy, thank you for sharing your dad with us. You too have raised a wonderful father. We are all blessed.
I am writing this one for you, honey...in a dress...
Kate Robertson, CS