10,000 delights of my years with you are ready to flow from my quill to paper. London was one of them: a large door opening into the hallowed Chapter House that turned to a new page in our marriage.
Seeing your face light up when the Tower Bridge opened to a passing ship was priceless. You met the Imperial War Museum and a boat ride down the Thames with wide-eyed curiosity and excitement. A quick glance at the saints who lay low, along with the kings and poets resting at Westminster Abbey was not enough; you had to read each inscription. You lamented that our tour was so brief at the British Museum. And, you even shared my excitement at seeing the 1854 dinosaur models at the Crystal Palace Lake. The view from our room at the County Hall Marriott captured the London Eye almost brushing against our window as the Thames waved below and Big Ben towered across the way welcoming the world to the Palace of Westminster. You just stared, sighed, and basked in the glow of majesty. Could anything have been more beautiful?
The Abbey, the old river, the sweet music of Ben, and the haunting majesty of the Tower, all served as a fitting background to the real beauty near me during those days. That beauty smiled beside the Palace dinosaurs where a love story was reignited that day at the very spot where one began over 160 years ago.
London, Oxford, Cambridge, and the villages separating them were at the same time charming, majestic, intimidating, and strikingly beautiful. However, dig up Abbey's bones, drain the Thames, silence Ben's chimes, and tear the Tower Bridge down if you will, for as long as there is the Queen in her robes of gold, beauty lives.
In the last months of Charles Spurgeon's life, a dream came true. For almost a quarter of a century, he had longed for Susie's presence with him at his favorite resting place on the coast of France. The Lord heard the cry of his servant and gave Susie strength sufficient to journey 1000 miles with her dear husband to visit the waters and gardens of Mentone. She described their time together as "the oil and wine of His [God's] choicest consolation." She reflected on those rapturous days with her beloved by recalling, from the vantage point of a lofty perch, the story of her marriage to Charles. This is what she saw from her hill as she gazed at the French Riviera below:
I can see two pilgrims treading this highway of life together, hand in hand-heart linked to heart. True they had rivers to ford, and mountains to cross, and fierce enemies to fight, and many dangers to go through; but their Guide was watchful, their Deliverer unfailing, and of them it might truly be said, 'In all their sufferings he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted up and carried them through all the years.'She told of their days of singing, their love for Jesus, and their final stop together, "to a place on the road where two ways met." It was from that place that their company was divided and one was transported to heaven while the other, "battered and bruised by the awful tempest, henceforth toiling along the road," was left alone. Yet, though her prince departed, her King came near.
Darling Lori, I pray that we have yet much highway yet before us. I pray also that we will traverse the path with joy. Though there are mercies behind us left unsung, may those mercies be reignited in garden songs. Whether olive-groves, mountain vineyards, or breathing in the fragrance of choicest flowers, may we go the remainder of our way hand-in-hand singing of his goodness to us. Our children are near, our grandchildren are just a few doors down, and the scratches on our floor and the watercolors hanging on our walls are reminders of a life lived together with Christ as our Lord. It is beautiful.
The beauty of England is beyond my ability to describe. And yet your beauty surpasses the spires, steeples, palaces, and country hamlets of England's sacred ground. 30 years of beauty. And can it be that you are more beautiful today than you were on August 15, 1987? Indeed you are. Though London will soon feel the chill of winter wind, I hear that the coast of France is rather nice this time of year. And, they say that the waters of Mentone are clear blue and can make "even the stones sing a constant song of joy." Maybe we will find out one day. If so, we will not be able to gaze too far across the sea for the light reflecting off of the Mediterranean waters will be too dazzling. Yet they say that beyond them "there lay a beautiful summer-land, where the rigors of winter are unknown, and the icy winds of the North never blow." By faith, we know that it is there, for He is there. His beauty at once blinds and then gives sight so that, for the first time ever, we behold the fullness of his beauty unhindered. Reflections of that beauty I see in you my dear. I have seen it for 30 years. It's clearer today than ever before. Happy Anniversary.