Life As Art

“Listen to your life, see it for the fathomless mystery it is.” ~ Frederick Buechner

It’s raining grey drops on the outside, peppering the asphalt and earth-dirt with heaven’s impartial, christening water. It smells like creation’s church and my imagination is pressed close to cold panes of windowed glass and I can almost feel the taste of liquid silver on my tongue and this absurd little human-heart inside a chest-of-flesh flips over and oh dear God, the sound of it on the roof? Makes me school-girl giddy; if my spirit were to rise any higher, it would be away and gone from it’s body-home. There is the fog descending, too, to join nature’s tryst, offering his filmy, floating-fluctuation and dewy-dimension to autumn’s canvas. God-painted leaves dance their colors under the wet in a lover’s waltz with the subliminal brush of a wandering by, hands-in-his-trouser-pockets-with-a-whistle kind of breeze. They know it is their highest praise just to be and I am noticing, my eyes eating elements and landscape like soul-food. It is my own high worship, the watchfulness and mindfulness. The listening . . .

Today, I have the exceptional–and I do mean, exceptional–privilege of guest posting with Emily Wierenga of Canvas Child. Would you please follow me there? I’m sharing my heart for Life As Art . . .

Love,

Erika

{Photo Source: Unknown}

Wherein He {Still} Makes Music

It’s the sweetest sound, really. And I can hear it everyday if I’m sitting in just the right spot at just the right time . . .

When I first laid my 17-year-young-eyes on all 6 foot 3 inches of unbridled male virility, I dove, DOVE I tell you, into love. (Which is just a way more dramatic method of “falling” in love.) All I remember thinking was, “ME WANT. UGG.” I might’ve even beat a fist against my chest once or twice. (I don’t usually exhibit neanderthal qualities . . . I swear.)

To my further delight, I discovered very shortly after meeting said heart-throb that he was a drummer. (Like, EEEEEEK!!!) AND he played Jesus in this dramatic presentation that his YWAM mobile team performed at my church. My little-smitten-heart repeated like a pull-string doll that night, “What could be better then a drum-beating, Jesus-acting, heart-throb? I want one.” Never mind that every other girl in that church auditorium was thinking the same thing. We all know who he ended up with. What Erika wants, Erika gets. Totally kidding! Or am I? If you know me and you’re reading this, I absolutely forbid you from commenting.

I digress.

In the early days of our married life, drummer-husband collaborated with his friends and created the songs of Ten Shekel Shirt, among other gigs. But, shortly after we conceived our third child, Austin and I needed to upgrade our dwelling space to accommodate our rapidly emerging offspring and we found that a musician’s salary didn’t cover our monthly expenses anymore. Overnight, my music-loving, drum-beating spouse went from living his dream to becoming an apprentice to my brother’s carpentry business and swinging a hammer for our bread and butter.

He still hits his drums whenever our schedule-stuffed lives afford him the time, but it’s been 7 years since he’s been a full-time musician. Can I tell you something though? His various mediums of music-making has met my ears for 12+ years and I’ve loved every beat of it, but the sweetest rhythm he composes is not the noise from his musical prowess, it’s simply and profoundly the sound of him coming home everyday. And I can hear it from start to finish if I’m sitting on my favorite couch cushion in the living room.

Through the thin, historic-old glass of our 1856 apartment, the distinct purr of his truck engine bleeds through to my ears and it – sure as the sunrise – puts a smile on my face and lifts my heart higher because I know we’re about to be whole again, our family circle – he completes it. The motor dies, the F-150 driver-door opens and closes, his footsteps up the yard path reach my waiting ears from the second story.

I can’t see him yet, but I know he’s going to be dirty, covered from head to foot with dust – all the cracks in his trade-roughened hands will be filled, his hair concrete-powder-white instead of chestnut brown. His work-weary movement echoes as he crosses the front porch heavy. Pushing through the entrance door I can hear him drop his boots on the mat and reach to unhook his apartment keys from the backside belt-loop of his Work-n-Gear pants. 17 more steps up and a little jangle, the key fits in our door and I’m still smiling and the boys notice their papa’s coming-home-music, they come galloping and hollering from every corner like it’s Christmas morning. It never gets old.

All that to say, he still makes music, always and no matter what he does. Because who he IS, is our harmony, a vital refrain to his family and further relational sphere.

I love my musician.

The End.

 

 

 

 

11 Years And Counting

He looks at me with glistening vision, a quiver to his lips . . . My man, his heart is so soft on this 11th year remembrance of our marriage sacrament. “Erika, I love who we are and who we’ve become and where we are going . . . ” His voice with the emotion turns me tender and just like that we are crying together for the wonder of still walking hand in hand as one when an unseen perfidy would have torn us into two.

But, we are together. TOGETHER!!! Right there with the tears come the heart-rising “Hallelujah’s!!!” and the belly-joy laughter and we recognize the miracle when we see it and celebrate this tiny moment in time, stretched to spacious and full with significance. And we can feel it in our spirit-molecules, the warmth of sublime pleasure when a Father’s smile wraps full around strengthening commitment, around our Love.

Austin Morrison, may we always, always be counting the years and basking in Divine delight.

In honor of our anniversary, I wanted to contribute the following story again.

***

It was a holy night eight months ago, when My Love and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony. Holy sacrament. Holy bent heads. Holy tears of wonder that we had made it this far. Holy voice quiver when vow-words written in black, scrolled on white paper, are spoken again into the grey shades of our reality.

That holy night, eight months ago, we stood in the middle of 20 dearest friends ringed arm to arm around our re-pledges to each other and heaven’s holy hush saturated our air . . .

This time was different then the last time – the untried joining of our youth. This time, we knew. Oh God, we knew. We knew what cards life could deal and we knew our own humanity could cheat with the hands we are dealt. We knew that vows are meant to be kept, but instead, get torn a hundred ways to Sunday. We knew all this and beyond and because of our knowing, our vow ceremony words meant more and the definition is ten years long and ten years deep and ten years burned through holy fire. We knew, and we still stood on our holy legs of flesh to say “Yes” to each other again.

We said “Yes” again because we didn’t go through holy fire without being refined, restored, redeemed, resurrected.  And we said “Yes” because our reasons and intentions for marriage had evolved alongside our purification.

Our reasons went beyond the answers that come skimmed off the top: “I want to wake up every day with my best friend” or “Two are better then one and he/she completes me” or “I’m loved unconditionally by my spouse”. After being affixed to someone for ten years, these answers cannot stand-alone any longer. The rigors and rot of reality require that you have an exceptional reason for joining your life to someone and an exceptional reason for staying joined. Looking marriage straight in the face on the eve of our commitment renewal, I invoked the question again this decade later, “Why marriage?” I hoped to grasp an answer to paramount all the answers. I needed something I could hook my entire heart on when the day is done and the deeds are dark.

With elevated senses, I traveled far into understanding the magnetic mandate of marriage. I wanted to extend my imaginings to you as they’ve descended into my cranial comprehension; trickle traveled to my heart and found a secure resting place within my interior.

Let’s go crash a wedding in Cana . . .

“…The story of the wedding at Cana has a curious luminousness about it, the quality of almost a dream where every gesture, every detail, suggests the presence of meaning beneath meaning, where people move with a kind of ritual stateliness, faces melting into other faces, voices speaking of elusive, but inexhaustible significance.” – Frederick Buechner

I can envision this strange and stern guest with the soul of the world in His watchful eyes. He’s drinking Himself full of the symbolism at play in the celebration around Him. He laughs and merry-makes with the rest of them, all the while this other component of Him is stretching and reaching foggy fingers every which way and throughout, absorbing the deeper meaning in the peripherals. His entire purpose as a GROOM coming to love His BRIDE is being acted out on the micro stage of this Cana wedding. He’s dreaming of the intimate mysteries of vows and rings, clasping of hands and sacrifice, of feasting and ultimate love. He closes His eyes on the note of a sigh as He envisions another marriage; His own marriage . . .

Mother-Mary breaks into His reflection because she just overheard the servants talking about a beverage deficiency. Jesus! You must do something! She petitions her Son for a miracle because the party planner didn’t order enough wine – of all things!

The Son tells The Mother not to put the cart before the donkey.

The Mother caresses her knowing fingers along The Son’s face and tells the servants to do whatever The Son says.

The Son is drifting back to His waking dream when He hears a familiar whisper . . .

The Father says near His ear; “I’ve arranged a marriage for You. It’s time . . .”

Without any added ado, The Son says to The Servants, do this and do that.

And.

A miracle was made.

Refreshment is deficient no more.

The earth heaved a dry, thirsty sigh.

The invitation was heard around the world.

The Bride was born.

The Groom waits.

Anticipating His own wedding after what He knows will be a 3-year-long WILD and outrageous wooing.

Three years later, with dust in all the cracks of His square peasant feet, He walked a long and rocky trail to the top of death hill. Because that is where His chapel was and He was going to get married. But His vows of love needed to be written in blood; red ribbons of ripped wide sacrifice. Cross-eyed and crossed-out and criss-crossed in pain six-ways-damned till Sunday, He said, “I take you . . . to have and to hold . . . from this day forward, in sickness and in health, in riches and in poverty . . . as long as we both shall live” – which is nothing short of eternity.

Right after Austin and I married the first time and were pronounced “man and wife”, these words were spoken over us, “You Austin . . . and you Erika . . . together, represent the image of Christ.”

The image of Christ?

You mean the one I just described? The image of the Bridegroom tearing Himself apart so He could marry His Bride? The image of a Bridegroom with broken lips gasping, “Father, forgive my Bride . . . She knows not . . . “?

This was and is the answer my soul sighed for hearing. “Why marriage?” Because I would give my living and dying breath to reflect an image like that – an image of a marriage declaring an insurmountable love.

When Austin and I re-fastened ourselves one to the other, it was with the intention that there lives a Marriage in this torn-asunder-love world, worth reflecting and we would undertake anything for our marriage to be a mirror held up in salute to it.