The Dancing Puritan

Friday, August 15, 2014

27 Years of Knowing: An Anniversary Recollection

August 15, 1987

I was late. You were waiting. It didn't seem to matter. Off we went, new friends headed to an evening of food and dancing. We were in for a surprise. Something happened. Perhaps it was a little bit like Emile de Becque and Ensign Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. They met at a dance and they knew. It does not always happen like that, does it? But did we know something, on that enchanted evening? Did we worry, as they did, that our feelings might not be shared by the other?   

Some enchanged evening
You may see a stranger,
you may see a stranger
Across a crowded room
And somehow you know,
You know even then
That somewhere you'll see her
Again and again.
From South Pacific

And so it began; so we began. Did we ever really feel uncomfortable with one another? Yes, there were moments of discomfort but those had more to do with circumstances than with one another. You laughed so much. Did I really bring a bit of happiness to you? Do you remember the salad, left over from a restaurant? I never liked tuna fish sandwiches but somehow with pickles and chips stacked on top, it was good. Or maybe it was good simply because you made it.

To think that I sometimes complain about a meal. Why? How can I be so foolish?

Do you remember singing at Georgia Tech? Or watching birds and squirrels while sitting on a bench at seminary? Or the day we found wild flowers growing beside hot asphalt? Do you recall picking those flowers and taking them back to our small apartment? You put them in a vase and our room came to life.

And then there was that morning. The city had closed in on us. We had to escape. The big-city-noise of New Orleans was left behind and Mississippi embraced us. The last verse of the final hymn was done. Her hair was gray, her eyes so sweet, she walked over. "You are going to my house for lunch today." She left us no choice. What a wonderful lunch. Though we had never met her, she took us in for the day. God gave rest.

The days turned into months, the months into years, and our nest grew. Sweet babies were cradled, nestled, and became ladies. Life got busier, faster, and sometimes my joy was not easy to see. 

27 years. Time has etched its marks on me. Spinning plates have taken their toll. I have made some choices that caused you grief. Grace. God's grace. Grace that pardons, forgives, and restores. When you look at me, do you see God's grace to a chief of sinners?

Our relationship has changed. It is deeper, I pray. Somehow you do not look 27 years older. You are wiser and more beautiful. I enjoy looking at your photograph on my desk. You are draped in white, wearing the wedding gown that you spent hours preparing for that day 27 years ago. You looked glorious! I still remember. I remember the kiss. I think that I had to wipe away a tear from your face. 

The other day, while you were napping, I looked at you. You were restful and so lovely. The burdens that we carry together were set-aside for the night. I was convicted. I am sorry that I do not tell you more often how beautiful you are. Yet, you never complain. Grace!

27 years. Can we do this for at least 40 more? Across that crowded room, 27 years ago, something happened. God gave grace. God provided. He knit our hearts together. We never have to wonder if God loves us. Let us never wonder about one another. And when we fail, let us hang on to grace.

Take my hand. Walk with me. Let's dance in the living room, sing on campus, and pick flowers together. Let's press our noses against the door of the chocolate store and savor the sweet aroma. Let's get in the car and drive away. Let's kiss in the kitchen and see if the children will come in close with us. Let's listen to Norah Jones sing love songs. Let's clean, mow, fix, cook, and play with our children and grandchildren. Let's go to a play. Lets get breakfast at that little shop in Dahlonega. Let's go to a sparsely attended movie and sit on the back row. The movie does not matter much. You know. Let's take one another by the hand and ask God to help us and to direct our steps. He will.

And when evening comes, let us look deep into one another's eyes. Let us never miss a kiss nor fail to say, "I love you." 

Across a crowded house, children run and play. I see you standing there. It is all so enchanted. Somehow I know. Somehow you know. I see it in your face. You see it in my eyes. Yes, we know. We knew then. 27 years of knowing. Happy Anniversary.

27 years of knowing!