Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go–
Song of Songs 3:4
glory. When you think of glory, Love, what springs to mind? Power and honor, praise, magnificence? Halos and sunbeams, a golden throne? They all seem out of my reach. We mortals are not the stuff of angels; rather, we live and die of dust and breath and sin and stretch. And I feel this mortality in every new day, in every new way I find to wound and disappoint those closest to me, in the feedings and washings of bodies and the cultivating of souls. And I wonder now as I look down the long aisle of my life at that bride–that beautiful, innocent girl with light beaming from her face–walking on her father’s arm toward her forevermore, if she would even know this woman writing today?
glory. God meant us to live out Eden, you and me. We were fashioned out of dust for Edenic love: love transforming two strangers into one flesh, so complete in unity that we share a rib. We–me and you–twin stars pulling from different quadrants, blazing through universe, destined to share in this grounded-out life together. But stars start off high where glory seems possible. We believed. We chose anchor over the heights. We started this life. And like Alan Jackson says, “It was hard.”
glory. No one speaks of the meshing. No one speaks about fights over you leaving your dirty clothes in a heap on the side of our bed, and no one warns about rats in the attic. We held each other young and dumb and looked at each other with magnet eyes pulling us into this endeavor and we imagined being broke and how romantic it would be. But it’s not, is it? And we imagined “hard times,” but we didn’t see a psyche ward and funeral homes. NO, we never imagined that. And we didn’t know how hard we’d cry, or that there would be pictures hung just to hide the holes in the wall. grief does that.
glory. We never, ever believed we’d want out. But we have wanted out, more than once. We didn’t believe we’d ever out-grow each other, ever stop fascinating each other. We didn’t think your chewing and me never shutting up would get old. But it did. We didn’t know then that there is a rhythm to us, that we travel in circles. And we hold and then we push each other away and this world–the gravity pulling at our bodies–forces us to look into the mirror and make peace with my own soul. And God.
glory. The day I figured out you would never be enough to fill every crack, every gaping, gushing wound. Your love wasn’t enough to fix me or heal me or keep me from myself and every song that sung otherwise lied. They lied. The only truth when I kneel in the dark after a hard day, asking for forgiveness and strength, lies in me giving myself up to Someone who loves me more than you. And you love me.
glory. You love me Wordsworth-style, but sometimes your words come out really, really un-Wordsworth and enrage me. Okay, you’re not Wordsworth. You’re just this great guy who keeps trying and gets in the hospital bed and holds me as we deliver a baby we’ll never take home. And you cry when I’m not looking, because I’ve cried enough for both of us. But I know you do. I watch you bone-tired take the garbage out and swing the kids in the backyard, dawn-to-dark without a break. You’ve all but put your golf clubs away for a girl who clings to you when you’ve been gone all week and sons who would rather wrestle than be your caddy. You remind me so much of your own dad: all heart, watching each of us, finding the need.
glory. You get up in the morning and make the coffee and I try really, really I do not to pry when you’re looking at your i-phone because it’s not my business if you’re reading your Bible app or the ESPN app, but you know . . .The fight starts if I spend one more second on surveying your outfit before we go out. And when I am trying so, so hard, lip-biting-clean-through to not critique, but you read my face. How is that fair? And so the effort to love, serve, to rise above thwarts by a mate so close to your own soul I can sometimes feel your breath in my lungs. I ask you and your narrow eyes, how it’s possible for a wife to be held responsible for thoughts?
glory. And it’s just you and me in a million moments when the storehouse bulges and when the fridge is empty. I survey 15 years of waves upon this shore of a lifetime love, and I can see the glory. I remember Abraham’s first cry and the day we sobbed in the waiting room when the cardiologist told us Sam had a chance at living. My heart holds dear the camp fires lighting your face in ever-present memory, almost straight with angel light, and I remember that night you came back and we decided we wouldn’t give up, never give up. A thousand steps upon one hundred beaches, setting up the pup tent in the living room because we drove all day and couldn’t find a camping spot. And the glory of a bottle of wine and a night without sleep, the nights we’ll hold sacred all of our days.
glory. We’re messy, crazy, absolutely screwed up and we grow together. Sanding each other’s edges off. Sometimes cutting deeper than we mean, always forgiving with bandages and sutchers and a fire that keeps growing. Glory in fire, glory in the muck of life redeemed. Glory in coming home to a teammate who wins when I do, who glories in me. Glory in this mess, in a universe of shooting stars burning alone into night. Glory in the giving up of one’s own ego, my own bridal view, to live a life filled with dirty, salvific Glory.
Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force,
Some in their garments though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure,
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ cost,
Of more delight than hawks and horses be;
And having thee, of all men’s pride I boast:
Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
All this away, and me most wretched make.
Glory. Broken open, rubbed-raw, scarred-up glory. That’s you and me, babe. Let them say that of us. God-only glory forged those two wills into one flesh. Let’s not just not survive the forging–not just endure it–but glory in it.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.