Friday, September 18, 2009

Peace Like a River (traditional)

Today is my 33rd wedding anniversary - for three hours, I had my air ducts cleaned out. Lest you think that is a metaphor for... something else... I assure you, it is the literal truth - we have been on a straightening/cleaning jag (motivated by a party we're giving next weekend) and that was one of the things on our To Do List. Later tonight I intend to invoke the metaphor as well - our evening is low-key because we are headed to a hotel on the beach for two nights mid-week for our actual celebration (more on that as it gets closer... :-)

I've spent the day re-evaluating what's kept us going these 3+ decades - my daughter told me earlier that she didn't think she'd ever get married because we are the only people she knows who have stuck it out, while everyone else is divorcing, some even multiple times. I told her that it shouldn't discourage her, and that we have had just as many troubles as everyone else - the risk is the reward, and the leap of faith is the longevity... that we just keep getting up and doing it again... amen (to quote Jackson Browne)...

My husband makes me crazy... and he makes he feel adored - he is frustrating... and he is flattering. He is honest, even when I don't want to hear it... and I know I can trust his words and his actions (how many people in our lives can we say that about?!?) - he is intuitive, which is sometimes annoying but mostly a blessing. For my birthday last month, he wrote in my card: "Another year of challenges and you keep on going with class and dignity! I not only love you but admire you!" - sigh...

Tomorrow will be two months since my mom's passing... and one month since I've been back home in Florida - I'm beginning to move past the numbness and into question/overanalyzing mode. I've been lucky to have some good friends who will listen to my process without judgement and I'm finally feeling... dare I say it?... peace - I still miss mom and I still cry a good bit... but I know I am a better person for the experience...

Last Sunday was Water Sunday at our UU church - the format is that people bring water from (or use tap water that symbolizes) their summer vacation or travels. It's a lovely ceremony, and one in which I usually participate... but all I could think of was that I spent mid-May through mid-July refilling mom's oxygen tank twice a day with distilled water... and I knew I couldn't verbalize that without falling apart - water as a life force was quite literal in my case...

After the service, I was speaking with an older woman from the congregation who spent her summer at various doctor's offices - she too had refrained from the public ritual of sharing. We decided to ask the interim minister if she could "officiate" while we privately poured water into the community bowl and spoke our tearful intentions - it was quite cathartic... and, yes... even peaceful...

By the way, the ending hymn of our church service was Peace Like a River and, when I got home and turned on our local folk and acoustic radio show at 2 p.m., it was the first song the DJ played - meant-to-be... :-)

Wind chimes ping and tangle on the patio.
In gusty winds this wild, sparrow hawks hover
and bob, always the crash of indigo
hosannas dangling on strings. My wife ties copper
to turquoise from deserts, and bits of steel
from engines I tear down. She strings them all
like laces of babies' shoes when the squeal
of their play made joyful noise in the hall.

Her voice is more modest than moonlight,
like pearl drops she wears in her lobes.
My hands find the face of my bride.
I stretch her skin smooth and see bone.
Our children bring children to bless her, her face
more weathered than mine. What matters
is timeless, dazzling devotion—not rain,
not Eden gardenias, but cactus in drought,
not just moons of deep sleep, not sunlight or stars,
not the blue, but the darkness beyond.

QUOTE(S): "Love is the river of life in the world." ~ Henry Ward Beecher

"As I make my way around this life, I look for signs and baubles and charms and amulets and secret texts that there is a meaning and significance to human life that is under the control of some great moderating force. I like the glimpses of sorcery and fantasy that sometimes enter the human arena at the oddest, most unexpected times." ~ Pat Conroy


  1. Happy anniversary, Susan!

    &thanks for being someone to look up to. (=

  2. Hey, Amy ~

    Thanks for the anniversary wishes - 33 years of One Day At a Times equals 12,045 Days (yikes... and wow!)...

    Not sure about the "someone to look up to" part... but I appreciate the sentiment - I'm just hanging in there like everyone else (what I lack in resources I make up for in passion... :-)

  3. Happy Anniversary Susan! You two seem to have the formula for a happy marriage!

    Like you, I couldn't 'publicly' share my water (tears) at the Water Communion last option for private at our service. So I came home and watered my gardens...

    Glad that you are feeling peace

  4. Hey, Catherine ~

    I vowed early on that *happy* and *marriage* don't have to be mutually exclusive - my parents divorced after 29 years so I learned early on that one is never safe (i.e., don't take it for granted)...

    After we had the mini-gathering with our minister intern, she said that she was going to try to figure out an option for privacy for next year's service (as there had to be more people who felt the way we did, but didn't verbalize it) - maybe you could suggest it to yours now, even this far in advance...

  5. good idea about the 'private option' but we are in the throes of interim ministership (she frequently reminds us that she is 'pre-fired')so all is in a state of flux.

    The Man and I are approaching the 25 year mark of wedded and unwedded bliss (mostly unwedded)and we soldier on *pitiful laughing* ;-)

  6. Hey, Catherine ~

    Oh, so sorry to hear of the temporary nature of your minister - that can't be good for a spiritual community...

    Congratulations to you and The Man on earning your 25-year badge - soldiering on is a good thing, Martha... and laughter, pitiful or otherwise, is a necessity for relationship endurance... :-)

  7. Happy (belated) Anniversary, Susan.

  8. Hey, M ~

    Thanks for the anniversary wishes - he makes me crazy... but I'm still crazy about him!