Sunday, February 14, 2010

For My Wife on Valentine's Day

For the first time in a week I woke up this morning and heard you breathing next to me. There have been other weeks when I woke up to silence, finding emptiness beside me as you traveled, other mornings when I found your place strangely vacant when you didn’t sleep well and the sleeplessness pushed you to get up and get some work done.

But your absence from our home in these recent days has been like nothing we’ve ever lived through. Our house has been empty as you and I kept vigil by our daughter’s hospital bed. There were a few nights when our energies and attention ran in different directions – me here with John trying to create some sense of normalcy; you there with Anna in exile, removed from anything we know as normal and familiar.

In these days we have lived through a strange absence. Often standing in the same room, focused on the same little girl, wanting the same things and managing a common life while distant from what we know as our life together.

And now, as of last night, we are home: under the same roof, sharing the same meals, back in our beds. God’s grace to us has meant a return to home and health. It is not always that way for everyone. We know that now like we didn’t know it a week ago.

And there is something else I know now in a new way.

A marriage grows over time as two people give themselves to the same things. Love is not simply what people ‘have’ or ‘feel’ for each other. Love is something they share as they give themselves to a common life. Ruth’s words to Naomi capture it so well. “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.” A shared people, a shared place, a shared faith – these are threads that over time become a cable that we often speak of as “commitment.”

Having been with you in that hospital room, having made the horrific journey there a week ago, having stood with you mute with fear outside the trauma room, having seen you weary by her bed and restless on the chair that could never truly become a bed, I know now that we are bound by a common love.

I love what you love Marnie. I love the same two children. I love the work of raising them, the joys and heartaches and annoyances. I love your people – both the family that made you who you are and the family of faith you serve. I love your vocation, the calling to shepherd the flock of God. Indeed we are bound by a common love: love directed at the same things and life built on the same foundation.

But today is Valentines Day and there is more to say. I do not simply love what you love. I love you. Unadorned. Nothing added. Just you.

Today is also Sunday –a day of worship. As you have done every moment of the past week, you will stay with our little girl as she recovers. I will make my way to place where we worship and serve together. Worship will be sweet today. I am a blessed man. I will give God thanks for his gifts, for the health of our daughter and the home we share; for the gifts of people who have loved us and the good work we have of loving them in return.

And with the gifts we share I will thank God for the gift that is mine alone: The gift of you, my wife, my love, my delight. My Valentine.