Marriage Letters: Once Upon a Time

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I’m taking Amber Haines up on her invitation to write Marriage Letters every month. This month’s prompt was Once Upon a Time.

Dearest,

Once upon a time I dreamed of flying with you, of snugging into the window seat and watching the horizon for surprises.  Then, when that dream finally came true, you were the one who surprised me with our honeymoon location, revealed only with the airline attendant’s words as he handed us our tickets: enjoy your flight to San Francisco.  We went to that city without any plans, only hopes of discovery and adventure.

Once upon a time I jumped out of a plane with you.  Temporary insanity, apparently, since I would never do anything that risky again.  But the calm (like you were in line to buy a snowball, you said) was unlike anything I’d ever experienced; even in this crazy adventure, I knew I could trust you.  Someone wisecracked after we tied the knot: You trust this guy?  With my life, I shot back.

Once upon a time, you taught me to dance merengue, cumbia, cha-cha.  I wanted to spend my days dancing with you.  I thought the metaphor of a ballroom dance would carry us through.  I trusted you with the steps, with my very life.  I still trust you, not because I think you know all the steps, but because we are learning the steps together every day, trusting the Master Choreographer together.

Once upon a time, I thought I was patient.  I hung, perched on your words, admired the depth of your insights and watched, waiting, as your thoughts rolled past us all like a train bound for lands uncharted. Now I so often find myself ready to steam along when you are silent, impatient for your thoughts to slow to a stop so I can jump aboard, take the helm and switch tracks.  Forgive me.

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Once upon a time I thought our birth orders–firstborn girl, last born boy (with sisters, to boot)–was an omen of our success; after all, I’d read that in a book somewhere.  I thought I understood what marriage was hard work meant.  I didn’t realize marriage was like a rototiller doing the work on me, unearthing all the rocks of self-centeredness, churning up worms in all the tender places, long-guarded, that something new might grow.

Once upon a time, I hadn’t a clue about grace.  Sure, I had faith in Jesus, but it took someone who had experienced God’s extravagant grace extending it to me, day in and day out– seeing me at my most selfish and least gracious, and telling me gentle in the most broken of moments, “I love you,”–  to show me what it really means.

Thank you, Sweetie, for the dance, the adventure, the growth, and the grace.

Love,

Norissa

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Changing Plans

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A few weekends ago, we headed out for a drive through the country, looking forward to open vistas, an extended conversation, a walk in the country.  We passed a small stone church on the outskirts of the county, one that seemed anomalous in our corner of the southwest.  I’d like to get a picture of that, I mused aloud, and, careful what you wish for, the next thing we drove over a jagged piece of metal that planted itself in the front tire of our van.  So we pulled off into the parking lot directly across from the little chapel where all three boys assessed the damage and proceeded to change the tire.

In his book Margin, Richard Swenson, M.D., talks about having the space and time to be interrupted, particularly by God, in our lives; that sometimes the most important thing that will happen in the day isn’t on our agenda.  This was one of those times; our outing didn’t go as we had planned, but it was quality time together, all of us learning, and I had the opportunity to record it.

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Donut grin.

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This takes serious effort.

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Bloom

Reflecting on new beginnings with a poem from my days of new-motherhood:

Bloom

Love made manifest,
wrapped in a crimson
towel on the bed, cheeks
pinked like freshly scrubbed
apples. Rosy golden,
with a bloom
on the pristine skin.

My life new, too,
in this moment,
as though the morning
dawned at 5 in the afternoon.

Grace to Show Up: a Guest Post for A Feast of Crumbs

I wrote a guest post for my good friend Emily Luna’s wonderful blog, A Feast of Crumbs, where she chronicles her spiritual journey one breadcrumb at a time.

I feel like I keep failing the Sunday morning test. The one where I’m supposed to get myself and the two kids ready and out the door for church without yogurt smears on my skirt or sweet potatoes caked in their hair, and without going all Crazy-Mom on the four-year old when he strips his pants and underwear off to go potty and will not be wrangled back into them 20 minutes past our departure goal. The one where I’m supposed to show up on time…

Head over to her blog to read the rest, and while you’re there, check out Emily’s beautiful writing, too!

Giving Thanks

For dirty dishes, witness
that we have eaten today.
For puddles of water on the tile,
the overflow of drink and wash.
For pies minus an ingredient
because I have little someones
to distract me.
For the shrilling of the smoke
detector reminding me of the many
meals that have spattered this oven.
For the tension knots knitting my intentions
with my imperfections, the clash
of wills, and the reaching
of limits that brings prayer
to my lips.
For night wakings and sleep
deprivation, a body that works
nourishment for a baby, and knows
the cost of loving another.
For crayon scribbles on the walls, library
books on the floor, laundry lounging
a basket, grapes smashed
on a table in abundance,
the abundance, Oh, Lord,
the abundance of this life
and of Your grace.