Oh sweet roses and chocolate, it’s almost V-Day, which is not short for Venge-ful Day! This is about Love! I have many reasons to be smiling this Valentine’s Day. It’s my 41st
with my husband. (And I'm hoping for a 42cd---so I'm also hoping he won't see this post.)
Here it begins, Love’s (mercifully short) record of wrongs, like this:
Three, count them! coats on the bannister, next to the coat closet. Everyone knows that men are genetically unable to hang up their coat, yes?)
#2. If a truck (or a tractor or tires or anything) was good 50 years ago, and it might be good for something else again, why would anyone want to get rid of it? It’s the Alaskan male way:
(Don't be distracted by the beautiful sky. It's still a 50 year old rusty truck full of junk buoys)
#3. Kitchen crimes! Here, notice the position of the silverware?
So they stay clean when you take them out.)
(Kitchen counters used as office space! Wrong! For further kitchen crimes, go here:
And then there are the “Things That Happened”---like,
#4. When I was “volunteered” to ride behind an ATV on a piece of plywood on the ground heaped with the mess of offal from two beasts. (We raised our own beef for 35 years out on our fishcamp island.) I hung on for dear life, face inches from the warm guts, trying to keep them from spilling while Duncan roared the ATV down to to beach for disposal. (no photos of that traumatic event. Here, as close as I get to cattle guts now.)
#5. The Banya. The banya,
a kind of sauna, is where and how we bathe in the summer. But the year we moved to this uninhabited island to build a house, we didn’t have time to build a house AND a banya AND an outhouse. So---someone in the marriage proposed a temporary solution: Ta daaa!!! A Two-Fer: To combine the outhouse and the sauna in one tiny building. Yes, flies and smell and all. I laugh now (after the eyerolls) when I think of hauling all my babies and children out there to get clean, while swatting away the outhouse flies . .. And don’t worry---it was only for 12 summers.
(How we bathed before the banya, oh so long ago! .. ..This is part of the record of wrong because when Duncan used to give slide shows of Alaska, he'd sneak this photo in, not telling me of course until I was blown up on the wall in front of 100 Ohio farmers. "Red" was not a bright enough color to describe my face.)
#6. The last: the storms. Yes, all the storms we've fished in, and what happens to the voice and to the marriage in such storms? (We don't fish together anymore. At all.)
So, how DO we keep loving one another? How DO we keep forgiving one another? We all bear 1000 wounds. All of us. But don't take them back, though sometimes I want to. Sometimes I want to erase whole years. But I can't---and I won't even try. Who are we without those wounds, the places we've been, even the ways we've hurt each other?
Even now, it's not
too late to forgive. It is not too late to heal memories. It is not too late to “remember well.” Each time we return to our past, we have the wonderful chance to reclaim it and tell a truer story. (Okay, I
volunteer for that gut-ride, masochistically). We each can tell a truer story that begins with our human failing (Mine: my failure to communicate. Yours: not wanting to listen.) A story that sees all the ways we've hurt each other. That recognizes we are sharers alike in what L. Gregory Jones calls the “universal disaster of sinful brokenness.”
When we "remember well," we will find the presence of God even in the outhouse/banya, and especially in the dark and stormy places. Even in memory, we can find Him there shepherding us toward a better love, a love that can finally disarm the haunting and the hurt of what others have done to us.
Why, my friends, would we choose an emptied past over a healed, reclaimed one? Because we know, even with our mouths stuffed full of chocolate on Valentine's Day, that it is not pain itself that diminishes us; it is our response to it that determines the kind of lives we will live, the kind of people we will be, the kind of loves we will possess and give away.
How do we love each other? Let us count the ways.
Tell us, bless us with one way you have "remembered well"---or loved well this week??!!