Covering: Reflections on 20 years of marriage

Covering; 2012; 22" x 30"; mixed media: watercolor, charcoal, pastel, pencil.

Covering; 2012; 22″ x 30″; mixed media: watercolor, charcoal, pastel, pencil.

In the early days, I was a kite and he was the string. I, the idyllic dreamer, tempted him with crazy ideas like living in a 700 square foot hot tub wing/studio apartment of a house nestled in the mountains west of Denver.  We looked at other places. Still, to this day, we laugh when we remember one particular apartment manager. Leading us on a tour of a sample unit, she highlighted its perks. She began one sentence with a grand wave of her hand, “And from your front picture window you can see…” then tapered off as she looked through it herself and realized exactly what the window framed, “… your car!”  Especially after that episode, I couldn’t surrender my obsession with escaping the city. At last we stumbled upon the odd little studio apartment in Indian Hills. Our “bedroom” perched on a covered (un-functional) hot tub, screened from the rest of the space with giant artwork. Our kitchen hid in a converted closet. But when weekends came, the glorious Colorado mountains beckoned just beyond our threshold: one-on-one kick ball games and chasing Frisbees in a nearby meadow, tackle football in the snow and sledding steep slopes, mountain-biking and sunset dancing in the ruins of Mt. Falcon. Perhaps our rural home was my idea, maybe I was the kite dragging us there; but he was the string, taunting the earth-bound with me, the string that anchors me still. A steadiness, a sure-ness I crave.

When life inevitably threatens murky valley depths, he is the color. However abysmal the situation, he can always make me laugh. Nowhere did I feel this more acutely than when thousands of miles and oceans and continents separated us, when I left for Kenya with our two four-year-old sons to adopt our fourth child and left him and our seven-year-old son in the US for work and school. Days and weeks stretched to seven-and-a-half months. Time tumbled by in a blur as I struggled to navigate interpretations of laws changing by the day, placed frantic phone calls home, washed laundry by hand, cooked beans and rice from scratch, and comforted four years olds missing their dad. Surrounded by brilliant colors of batiked fabric, verdant green mango and avocado trees, and soaring blue skies, the world faded to musty gray. At last he came to Kenya for a court hearing; but after yet another dead-end legal process, he had no choice but to return to the US. I stood in the swirl of red dust stirred up from his departing car, my small children huddled at my knees, as the cloud swallowed all the colors once again and settled deep and dark. At last I stepped off that airplane in Colorado, bleary-eyed, with all four of our groggy children in tow. In his arms once again looking out at the world, the sterile airport blazed like a tropical sunrise, saturated with color once again.

During another season, we were like drowning swimmers. Dumped into the ocean by a life-altering diagnosis concerning one of our children, each of us swam through grief spontaneously and urgently, coping in the best way we knew how. Relentless headwinds and vicious currents seemed to sweep us in opposite directions, one of us frantically treading water to stay afloat, the other yielding to the dark ocean depths. We fought frantically against currents too strong for us, called out to God to calm the storm. It ebbed and flowed, and ebbs and flows still; but a Strength mightier than our own swept us together and our hands clasped over tempestuous waves. We hold fast, tighter than ever.

More recently, he is my covering. In a raging storm kicked up by the heels of life–deaths of two family members within a short time period, grinding stress of navigating children’s disabilities, deep questions about who I am and where I am going – he sheltered me through tears, drew out unspoken fears, empowered me with courage to chart a radically different course.  As Christ covers his church in kindness, tenderness, and strength, he covers me.

In the intertwining of two imperfect, broken lives over two decades, metaphors arise and fall and parables fade. A wordless mystery remains, a space that can only be created and sustained by the Author of Love.

We are His

the you-and-i-ness

conceived timeless times ago

in the hands of One

who formed the clay,

molding it through centuries-

a dream for a creation yet to be

you and i

conceived as we

long before we saw as one-

eyes i have somehow known so long,

long before i ever knew-

timeless words between our glance,

the Creator captured there

and His dreams of long ago

for us

i for you

you for me,

and we for Him

for my dearest David on our wedding day

April 17, 1993

5 thoughts on “Covering: Reflections on 20 years of marriage

  1. My God (I say this very deliberately) you are an amazing artist, both with paint and words! My emotions soar and fall with your words. First, happy anniversary! I am so proud of both of you for living the relationship you were meant to. I wish I knew more about the things you write about. I long to be more involved with my family. I love you all so very much. Have a wonderful celebration!

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    • I am thankful for the time we are enjoying together now as the hard times of life have allowed us to be physically near one another more. I wish we could see you more, but I’m thankful for every moment we have! Much love to you!

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