It’s 5:20 a.m. and the house is quiet. Jenna is getting married June 24th. The young adults bunking here for the wedding, are fast asleep. I have a faint recollection of sleeping until noon, but it is a distant memory.
The dawn floats a mist over the pond like steam from my coffee cup while the finches taunt Boo as she politely requests her morning milk from outside the window with a long meeeow. I’m thinking of Anne Lamott and a podcast called, Twelve Things I Know Are True.
#2: Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes-including you.
This is good advice when you are planning a wedding.
Today is our wedding anniversary, 32 years. It feels like we have always been married…and yet it seems like yesterday. We rarely feel the age we are.
Anne Lamott is 61, although she says,“I am no longer 47, although this is the age I feel, and the age I like to think of myself as being. My friend Paul used to say in his late 70s that he felt like a young man with something really wrong with him.”
Here is #6 on writing…every single thing that happened to you is yours, and you get to tell it…write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves of your heart: your stories, memories, visions and songs — your truth, your version of things — in your own voice. That’s really all you have to offer us, and that’s also why you were born.
So I power on my laptop preparing to write and notice a copy of a book that Jenna is reading, The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller. There is a sheet of paper marking a place in the book and I pull it out. It’s a paint-by-numbers rose on the front page colored with various crayons and a note, “To Jenna, from the coolest person you know…AKA Mary!!” (I don’t know Mary, but judging from the double exclamation and crayon art, I’m assuming it’s a student of Jenna’s…or perhaps it’s her maid of honor)
On the back of this page in Jenna’s handwriting is this: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us. “ The Meaning of Marriage, Page 101
A few days earlier, Jenna asked for my advice on marriage. I jokingly said something inane because I had nothing, and I remembered:
Lamotte’s #4. “You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey. You have to release them. It’s disrespectful not to. Our help is usually not very helpful. And help is the sunny side of control. Stop helping so much. Don’t get your help and goodness all over everybody.”
I remember the Keller quote Jenna wrote in longhand, because I read the exact same quote to my Bible class a few weeks before while teaching about the wedding in Cana from John chapter 2. Last night at dinner, I shared the quote, and Andrew, Jenna’s finance said, “You know what they say, Like Father, like Daughter. This is true, except she is prettier and nicer and a better athlete and a better person…
Perhaps no advice is good advice. But here is a tiny thought for what it is worth.
You are experiencing an extraordinary moment in your life. Live it fully, bask in the glow of this season in the sun, laugh and dance and soak it up. One day, in a common moment of profound insight you will awake at 5:20 in the morning because you have lost the ability to sleep until noon and you will hold the weathered hand of the one you love and realize that you know Andrew and he knows you and it is lovely within. And the thing that lasts forever and that has always been, love, is yours, and it is good.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me. So these three things continue forever: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.