We walk, hand-in-hand, along hard, sandy shoreline. I am the bare feet with sand in between toes and he is the one in sandals. Shells crunch underfoot, but I am being careful where I step. I still have the scar from last summer on my left foot, the memory- a jagged line from another shell in another river. This body of water is a sheath of deep navy blue, gently stirred by two jet skis that churn the water into froth. As if they are mixing an intoxicating brew. Waves radiate circles outwards from the centrifugal force of the engines, and the fluid motion makes a continuous pattern towards the shore. As the beach has become too littered with natural debris, I select a rock on which to perch. It is just the right size for the two of us. I draw my legs in tight, curling in to myself like a ball. Protective. Cautious. Reflective.
Pensive, that’s really the word. And I am so much more than even this.
We sit in quiet solitude for a stretch. The breeze, rustling among tall grasses and pine boughs that hang in a canopy above us, is perfect for the sail boat that comes along later. A dog curiously sniffing as he moves, pink tongue hanging, lopes past us disappearing around the bend. His owner following with an orange canvas dog leash in hand. It is the perfect night to take it all in: the scenery, the view, the joy of it all. To embrace the moment.
He tells me he loves me and I ask why. For I am uncertain. “Because we have sixteen years of memories between us,” he replies. The tears fall in quiet streams down both sides of my face. This is not what I expected. To be loved like this. To be held so tenderly. We have come so many miles, but so many more separate in spite of progress made.
Sixteen years of blood, sweat and tears. And often, so little joy, so little hope. So many things can happen in sixteen years of marriage. There are many moments, many days, many months that make a marriage. To ensure a marriage last a lifetime, one almost looks for a miracle. Something to hold on to. But, we two have made a covenant promise to each other and will not easily be torn asunder. We remain, faithful.
To love another human being is to accept that they are not the source of your happiness. They are only human, and to be human is to err. To fall short. To fail. But, being human is enabling because we have the ability to meet the needs of the soul inside frail bodies, souls that yearns for connection, long for fulfilment. It is what we fill the vessel of our soul that brings happiness.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? Hope in God…” (The Holy Bible, NKJV, Psalm 42: 5a)
Hope springs forth, like water rushing from the mouth of the river, eternal, everlasting, always present. The life source of the present. To hope is to believe that tomorrow will come. And when it comes, it will be full of promise. Tomorrow is always a new start. It is a fresh page. A new beginning.
We two, the one I love and I, are an unlikely pair. I have often wondered how we have stayed the course for as long as we have. It is hope, God’s promise that He will carry us that binds our hearts together. We believe, in spite of the odds stacked against us, that there is hope for tomorrow. There is hope for marriage. There is hope for families. There is hope for what is broken to be mended. There is always hope. We can survive and weather the storms of life because we have hope in a better day to come. Today will be what it may. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Our charge is to believe that there is more to come. There will be more to come. This is not all there is, this life of the here and now. We have hope in more. We, who place trust in God, believe that He can and He will do exceedingly more than we ask or hope for. If we but believe. If we have hope.
Blessed be the tie that binds. That tie has kept two people who might never have stayed the course together in spite of the odds. It has planted perseverance, tenacity and the will power to survive in the lifeblood of our relationship. And we place our trust in God’s hands- believing that He can. And He will.
We sit tonight before a fire. Wood cracks and burns slowly, the blocks and sticks folding with the intensity of the heat. Flames blow in the wind, while strong breezes carry sparks far out from the central flame. The heat warms and soothes, taking the edge off the chill from nightly dips in the temperature. Conversation is easy. We chat about this and that, and when lapses in conversation come, they are easy. As is the way between two people feel at ease in one another’s presence. It is the ebb and flow of a relationship. One that has seen rough waters, but is able to find a way through the storm.
And we ride the gentle waters of this calm night, grateful for safe passage. Fully aware that hope will carry when the waters again become turbulent and storms rage.