“No matter how many pictures we take, no matter how many scrapbooks we make, no matter how many moments we invade with a rolling camera, we will die. We will vanish. We cannot grab and hold. We cannot smuggle things out with us through death…Our futile struggle in time is courtesy of God’s excessive giving. Sunset after sunset make it hard to remember and hold just one. Smell after smell. Laugh after laugh. A mind still thinking, a heart still beating.
We are all that overwhelmed kid, not even noticing our heartbeats, not even noticing our breathing, not even noticing that our fingertips can feel and pick things up, that pie smells like pie and that our hangnails heal and that honeycrisp apples are real and that dogs wag their tails and that awe perpetually awaits us in the sky. The real yearning, the solomonic state of mind, is caused by too much gift, by too many things to love in too short a time.”
Death by Living, N.D. Wilson
Each day holds so many little stories, all piling, one upon the other, to create this great story that is one’s life. We can barely grasp one moment before it is gone and a new one invades. Eight weeks ago, I accepted a little circle of gold and a husband who promised to lead me into the love of God. These past eight weeks feel full and heavy with transition and change and deep joy. But before I look five or ten years down the road, I want to see today in its fulness and beauty. May I live now, purposely and intently, seeing each day as the one glorious, wild, and magnificent earthly chance that we have to see and to know and to love God.
Here I am, surrounded by so many things to love:
My husband, upon my gift of probiotics to cure his stomach after a bout with some unrelenting little bug. I hand him a few pills, saying, “With these two pills, you’re getting 40 million bacteria.”:
“Eww. I might as well sneeze in a bucket and drink it.”
I laugh and he congratulates himself: “That was an original.”
This morning we went to my new favorite little breakfast spot. It’s in a little part of Dallas called “Deep Ellum,” which to me sounds perfectly Southern. We eat outside and watch the people walking by. There are paper cranes hanging from the ceiling inside, and tall windows outside. I watch a little family of four that are eating just inside the window. There are two highschool boys sitting across from their parents. It looks like they are enjoying their Saturday morning together. I can’t hear their words, but they are laughing and smiling and doing funny things with their hands. I love watching families enjoy being together. I wish I could be with my own, and then remember that I am with my own. My own little, tiny family, the next generation of my first family. I quietly hope that I can honor them well.
I put a new tablecloth on the table in anticipation of college friends coming to visit tonight. Its Williams-Sonoma tag reminds me of my mother. She taught me to love that store, and she taught me to love tablecloths. Most of all, she taught me that mealtime matters. Tonight we won’t have anything fancy. Just French toast, bacon, and fruit. Breakfast for dinner. Our weekend ritual. Instead of preparing a detailed meal, we will simply welcome our fellow newlywed friends into our little home and into our lives. It is in these rituals that we gain life and love.
This is our coffee table, today and everyday. And only one of these books is a school book of my seminary husband’s. As we were reading last night, I looked at the piles in front of me and fresh awareness struck me: how much of our life is directed and bound up in these pages. These are our teachers, our friends, our shapers. These are full of man’s endless yearning to understand life and humanity. They are the material result of an urge to tell a beautiful story. They ask countless questions and reveal the ardent truth-seeking of people that we have never met, but who we have come to love and respect all the same. Sometimes I feel apologetic when someone asks me what we do in our spare time. My answer is always the same: “Well, we like to read. A lot.” But they are us, and each book that sits on our table plays a part in writing our own stories.