I Was Born With Them

We partook of a high and holy ceremony this past weekend, two of our dear friends made their marriage vows under an ancient sprawled-out tree at a Lancaster, Pennsylvania winery and the sun was descending at just the right time for the rays to break through and shine between all the branches. The whole scene was lit-to-bursting with Glory Be. After their pledging sacrament, we celebrated here on earth the way we imagined God and all the angels were partying on the other side of the veil. But—NO doubt—the best part of the entire event was watching our  three boys and their from-birth friends CUT. IT. UP. on the dance floor. I mean, they didn’t quit for two hours and Seth even said after, “Me and Eli kept wanting to take a break, but then another good song would come on and we just couldn’t stop dancing!” GAH! They “couldn’t stop dancing” and my heart couldn’t stop bursting with smiles and joy while watching their totally uninhibited freedom of motion – limbs flying, souls soaring.

When Seth was asked by a friend of mine: “Where did you get all your awesome moves?”, he replied, “I was born with them.” And truer words have never been spoken. Isn’t every one of us born with all the moves we need for the unbridled kind of dancing (and living), before the world with it’s systems and boxes and rules and institutions and lies dry them out and bind them up?

I am just so much HAPPY that their young bodies can still feel all the good moves they were born with and I pray so big to know how to nurture those moves so they don’t get dead and gone.

These videos are dark and blurry and bouncy, but they still might bring your heart some joy. Seth is wearing a green shirt with black vest and his best friend Eli is right there with him in his white shirt and black tie. The other boys are being crazy all around too. Enjoy! :)

 

12 Years and Why Are We Married Again?

There once was this man who bent himself over our married-feet and prophesied that thousands and thousands would gather around our married-love, but we didn’t have much time to reflect on his seer-like vision because shorter then a month later our love shattered into a million little shard-sharp pieces. Oh. Well . . . we didn’t see that coming. And our married-eyes still look back and marvel that we decided—in spite of ourselves and our choices and our circumstances—that neither of us was “going” anywhere. Man, this girl could re-write the definition of “miracle” off the broken back of our story and here we are 12 years later, 6 years since we began to “fix” ourselves and the best part? I don’t rightly know. Because there truly are too many “best parts” to itemize or rank, but I will offer you the best visual I can to describe our “right-now” married-souls: Just like the river we live on and where we feast our gazes day after night . . . Austin and I? We just flow. We flow back. And forth. In and out. Up and down. The moon rises and wanes and we go low and we go high – moving with the rhythm of the life-tides and season-cycles. We’ve got it down and we know what to do when the water is thin and when it is thick, when it is calm and when it’s a torrent. Also like our river—and equally so—we know how subject we are to pollution. We’ll sit on our dock and watch the litter float by and this I see: We are “bound” together in the most vulnerable and fragile constitution under the sun. We have to be so careful with our eggshell-state and we try real good to clean ourselves in Christ every night before we sleep and additionally practicing every practice we can think of to protect our crackability.

But all the cracks we already have? Oh, the Light beams through ‘em real bright – so we’ll just keep those and let our married-love shine. Eh? And AMEN.

Two years ago I wrote a story about our 10 year anniversary vow renewal and other reflections on “why marriage?”. I would share it with you again as Austin and I just celebrated our 12th and it always puts me in mind of why we belong to each other.

:::

It was a holy night when Austin and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony – oh, holy sacrament and our heads bent in holy wonder and the tears, even, were salted with the holy emotion. Holy emotion that we had “made it” this far. And if ever a voice quiver can be holy, it was in this time when vow-words written in black, scrolled on white paper, were strongly spoken into the grey shades of our reality.

That holy night we stood in the middle of an arm-to-arm ring of our 20 dearest friends and spoke our re-pledges to each other and would you know that heaven’s holy hush soaked our air and stretched our senses to inhale Spirit as He whorled around and between all our limbs and over our skin in that sacred, brushing whisper of His? We felt transported to another world; gently placed inside a shielding bubble where no evil things could penetrate – not on this holy night, not on His holy watch.

Our second ceremony was different then the untried joining of our youth. This time, we knew. Oh God, we knew. We knew what cards life could deal and we knew that our own humanity could cheat with the hands we are dealt. We knew that vows are meant to be kept, but instead—and often—get torn a hundred ways to Sunday. We knew all this and beyond and because of our knowing, our vow 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 intentions for marriage had evolved alongside our purification and 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 a decade, these reasons cannot stand alone any longer. The rigors of reality demand that you have an exceptional reason for being joined and and an exceptional reason for staying joined.

On the eve of our commitment renewal, with the quiet and Spirit-air for company, I gently asked my question again, “why marriage?” I had hoped to grasp an answer that every other answer could find it’s roots in, longing for something I could hook my entire heart on when the day is done and the deeds are dark. And where my imagination took me, was not where I expected to go, but how would you like to 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 have this vision of a strange and stern guest with his big, drinking eyes. He’s inhaling wine and breathing sacramental symbolism into the air around him. He is at a wedding and how can he not think of why he was born all this way? Contracted and pushed into time to marry himself to the whole world. So while he laughs and feasts and merry-makes with the rest of them, his Spirit is stretching and reaching with fanciful wreaths of invisible God-fingers, touching every which way and throughout, soaking the deeper meaning inside every wedding ritual. His entire purpose as a Groom coming to love his bride is being played 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. Maybe just a small sigh and his eye-lids fall as he envisions another marriage . . .

His mama breaks into his waking reflection because she just overheard the servants talking about a beverage deficiency and she petitions her son for help because the party planner didn’t order enough wine, of all things. And while he’s telling his mama about time not arriving and don’t put the cart before the donkey, the mother caresses her knowing fingers along the son’s face and tells the servants to do whatever he says. Before he can issue any orders, he hears a familiar whisper, the Father speaks to the Son’s soul, “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 the miracle was heard around the whole thirsty world – never again would refreshment be lacking and with this, the bride was born and the Groom set out from Cana, anticipating his own wedding after what he knew would be a 3-year-long wild and audacious wooing.

And three years later, with dust in all the cracks of His sturdy, 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 split-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 were pronounced “man and wife” the first time, 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 detailed? This was and is the answer my soul was desparate 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 we, together, are a mirror of the risen Son on His wedding day.

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.