Five years into Decade IV,
“May we never forget what is worth remembering or remember what is best forgotten.” –Irish Blessing
I fret about the fact that I’ve been working on this compilation for five years now. Forever, it seems. The raw material of this collection resides at the center of my heart and my story, which means the organizing of it and revising proves daunting. For one thing, marriage is sacred. How much should one air? Months slip past between entries.
I woke to Thirty-five years together, and lots of snuggling (wink-wink). Crisp air streams in the windows we have open a crack. It’s a grey, dripping morning in Toledo, Ohio, much like our original wedding day. I listen to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof and let my mind drift back over the story that is ours. This is only our second time back in Toledo on this particular calendar day, and I wonder why I don’t remember shivering on the morning we said “I do,” when I wore capped sleeves on a lace-tiered, tea-length dress. Maybe the temperature was warmer that day, or we were young and impervious to cold then, so warm was our love.
We’ve frequented the sprawling Wildwood Nature Preserve many times, but only twice in the Autumn since that glorious day we eloped there on October 19, 1985. The colors are gorgeous with lots of yellows, russets and sherbet oranges. The Mitten Trees (Sassafras) wave their friendly greeting. The burning bushes are beyond description, their vibrant reds from a palette all their own. I’m so pleased to have the “Autumn Romance” piece published in Bella Grace, seeing through new lens our familiar wooded path freshly painted by the Master Creator. Why don’t the maples, sweetgums, and oaks all burst into flame at once? Instead, the well-orchestrated symphony each takes its perfectly timed entrance and exit, sacred moments in the otherwise ordinary.
The 493-acre wooded metro park with well-kept trails and bridges offers such beauty and quiet sanctuary. It’s busier now with kids playing, a high school cross country team warming up and jogging in a cluster, cyclists and old people. I’m glad so many people are getting outdoors. I draw on the collective strength of human spirit that the six o’clock news forgets to mention. The parking lot is almost full on the weekends, but today a hush falls over the wooded glens, the foggy marsh and meadows. I pick up a bouquet of wine-hewed Maple leaves to press between pages of a heavy book so I can send them to my parents.
Holding hands and lost in reverie, we walk across “our” bridge suspended over a small valley with its steep banks covered in yellowed ferns and fallen leaves. A trickle of water below catches runoff to the larger creek. A chipmunk scurries about his business. What is the circumference of his world? We wonder together. We stand among the tree trunks and tilt our faces up to the spread of their branches–our cathedral. I breathe in deep the smell of woodlands and nature’s seasoned longevity, their silent testimony to years past and those still ahead. The bridge has been replaced in these thirty-five years, but the trees remain. They are so big now.
We hold each other there, James and I, as we have each year since our first date, and are buoyed up and canopied in peace. Even when our days are a mix of shared suffering and celebration, even in addition to the ongoing global challenges of 2020, even in the midst of Johnny and Betty Lou’s health journey through craggy canyons with steep walls and long shadows.
Leaves flutter down, each added to the rich soil below, and I am reminded of the phrase, “grace upon grace.” from a post I’d saved written by a favorite author, Marilyn McEntyre:
Today’s lectionary reading includes one of my favorite phrases: “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” The slightly antique preposition, “upon” offers its own particular vision of abundance…One grace upon another; it’s not a stream, but a tree with new rings or a rising pile of shining stones or the layers of story in a palimpsest. The old graces remain and become frames and foundations for the new ones, renewed by every occasion when we are, once again, surprised by joy (Marilyn McEntyre, March 27, 2016 post).
And we are. In this story penned by Love, our lives are written by the hand that crafted these trees–this grace–one layer upon another, in and for all of eternity…and hopefully another thirty years together here on earth.