Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

Without You, I’m Not Me

“And I’d give up forever to touch you
Cause I know that you feel me somehow

You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be

And I don’t want to go home right now

And you can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

Dear Darling,

Part of me doesn’t have the strength to write. And part of me knows I must. Part of me knows exactly what to say, and how to say it, and part of me hasn’t the faintest clue where to begin. But a true writer writes not because he wants to, but because he has to.

Tonight, I feel…out of place. Out of place in every way. I’m struggling to accomplish success in my academics. I’ve relocated for greater personal independence, which carries with it its own blessings and curses. I’ve departed my political activism for now. And oftentimes, I feel alone even among friends. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve thought myself outgoing and interesting and humorous enough, but sitting around with some of them, our senses of humor are different, and sometimes they say things that seem totally inappropriate, despite being seemingly stalwart believers.

Suddenly I’m the quiet one. Suddenly I feel like the soldier who never came back from the war, who doesn’t laugh, and whose value and merits lie in my ability to provide security, safety and leadership. I’ve never seen war nor service, yet I feel like the military man returned from both and finding himself ill-fit for a society at peace, gamely sitting about entertaining themselves with trifling shows and amusements, when so much bad has happened, and is happening, and must be fixed. I don’t know if I can’t relax, or if I could hardly be expected to in the company I’ve kept.

And I wonder again, how is it people find each other so easily? The few rare times I’ve thought I spied your eyes looking at me through the crowd, the young lady proved not to be you. And that’s hard.

I cling to the cross, and Christ comes first in all I do. Or at least, that is my goal. And it seems so often that the ladies I meet, who seem interesting, have fallen away from that faith, and leave me hoping only that they can reclaim that faith.

I could use finding people just like me, people who affirm me, maybe are impressed by me, and by whom I can be impressed.

But most of all, I miss you. As much as I’ve already done with my life, as much as I still plan to do, I still feel like there’s not much of a point to my life unless I find you. Some say that’s silly, that my identity can’t be wrapped up in finding someone else. But there are enough songs, stories and poems, and the witness of many lonely hearts, to tell me I’m not alone in that sentiment.

I cook for myself, but there’s just not much of a point in going to so much effort if it’s only me. I’m not sloppy, I’ll keep my territory clean, but part of me wonders what’s the point besides keeping an orderly room and hoping my brain will follow.

So I’m sitting here tonight, alone in the dark. There’s a candle flickering, off a new volume of Love Poems and Sonnets of William Shakespeare that I haven’t even had time to read yet, but which I’ve purchased to arm myself with for our future.

What do you need from me, right now, this moment? I wish I knew! I wish, by virtue of some dream or vision I might see the troubles you’re facing, the daunting threats and challenges which impair your climb and take away your smile. Would that I could be concealed behind the veil, lurking, hidden and unseen behind the curtains of your life, unnoticed and uncredited, to make your life easier.

Would that I could take you in my arms and kiss away your tears. Because you see, when I’m holding you, you’re really holding me.

I’m filled with a painful hope to think every single “remember when” is still in our future; a treasure box brimming over with reflection, a heart and a lifetime full of memories, ours to make, like hidden gems concealed within the folds of our timeline.

Time is linear, but we are not. We are made up of the memories of our pasts, the joys and pains of our present, and the hope for our future. It’s strange to realize you’re going to be such an integral part of my life — my whole world — and I don’t even know what you look like.

I’m wearily holding to the hope that we’ll get there ere we make many more trips around the sun, awaiting the day when we can sit together in the candlelight.

Until then. I love you, and remain your lonely knight,

Beren

“And I don’t want the world to see me
Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am.”

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March 31, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness | Leave a comment

I Don’t Want to Sleep

Dear Darling,

It’s late. A friend came by and we talked too late, leaving my assignments undone as I’d intended before the night’s end. I have work tomorrow, and I should sleep.

But I don’t want to sleep.

Life has changed for me today, fundamentally. It leaves me feeling a little excited, a little nervous, and as usual, lonely. It leaves me excited about the possibilities, hopeful for the future and without a doubt it brings me one step closer to you.

It also strains my time obligations, because exams, projects, assignments and quizzes are all due, and I’ve not completed them. I should be sleeping, I should have been in bed an hour ago.

But I don’t want to.

I texted one or two friends to reach out for their companionship, but they’re all unavailable.

I feel….I don’t know how I feel. Empty, but full. Tired, but wired. Important but worthless, powerful and helpless. Ahead, and behind. Big…and small. I feel on top of the world, and yet crushed beneath its weight. I feel troubled but peaceful. I feel like I have the best friends and family in the world, but I still feel alone, like a vast part of me is still unknown and untouched and poorly understood. Sometimes I think you’ll explain me better than I can, and sometimes I really look forward to that.

I miss you tonight, love. Sometimes I think all we really have to figure out is each other. If we start with us, all the rest will just be bonus. Maybe that’s all some people are meant for…relationships. To be together, to be parents and grandparents, to live quiet lives and work small jobs. “Amounting to much” is a relative term…founding a family and a line of descendants was once considered successful. Simply being a good neighbor, friend and family member was a good life.

I seem to be meant for more. Somewhere deep inside, I can feel this insatiable fire burning, urging and spurring me on. It’s not just that I want to change the world. It’s not even that I’ve already left my mark on it in some ways. It’s that I have to. It’s that I’m called to be a world-changer, that it’s a destiny and a calling, as irresistible and inevitable as the outcome. It’s that God put me here for that. It’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s what leaves me listless and searching when I’m not actively pursuing a change in the world, and what burns and fuels me as I go. It’s the touch of destiny that others who live quiet and decent lives sometimes find themselves yearning for. And for me, it’s the thing that seems often to keep me apart from you. There’s nothing wrong with a “small” life at all…and some days, I crave it. Those silly people who crave what I have don’t know they possess effortlessly the thing I crave. Even the poorest farmer of the poorest country can find someone with whom to share his poverty.

Someone to share my life, my meals, my bed and my troubles, my love and fate and destiny. Life to me would be complete after that. And maybe that’s why God doesn’t give me that peace yet. I have more running to do before then.

Or maybe we’ll meet tomorrow. You just never know.

Perhaps, then, I’d better tuck myself in so I can be my charming and courtly self if we meet.

Sleep well, love.

-Beren

March 24, 2013 Posted by | Nights Like These | Leave a comment

A Peaceful Evening

Dear Darling,

An odd sensation settled over me last night…this sort of mental combination of feeling relaxed, calm and at peace about the world. Almost…almost like things were actually going to be okay.

I had wrapped my classes for the day, first day back from my trip. They were not particularly stressful, and I had a couple of hours worth of time before my Bible study, so I found a corner booth of Chick-Fil-A and proceeded to complete my study questions.  And I just felt like things were well.

I don’t know what brought it about. I’d like to say it was my faith or strength, but if that’s so, I stand condemned by confessing the sensation was odd and unusual. It could be that circumstances were settling for a brief glimmering moment in time. It could simply be that I was tired. Or maybe my trip did me more good than I knew, and I was sensing a release in a hidden reservoir of peace.

Regardless, I felt (feel?) blessed and calm, and adequate for life, even competent. I often feel like I am both far ahead and far behind in life, and last night I felt I broke even.

Sometimes I think this is often how I’ll feel when I know you’re there, and/or when I graduate. A weight will be lifted, and although other weights will aspire to replace it, the original weight, the void, the vacuum won’t return unless by some unforeseen tragedy. It makes me want to come home and settle into your arms for a ten minute hug. We don’t even need to move. Just stay locked in an embrace, all that we need in each other’s arms.

I enjoy my Bible study. I enjoy knowing that I’m feeding my soul and equipping it to serve my King. Sometimes as I read, other verses come to mind and I feel like I can see so much of scripture flowing together in one cohesive passage, like I’m positioned at a portal and can see the Word extending in both directions. But there’s also a competing feeling in me. These men are all older than I, and though not all seem as learned or experienced, I have to fight the urge to speak up on each answer, and I question the presence of an underlying prideful motivation to look like I know the scripture, or try to show off.

During lecture, I feel myself breathing deeply and easily. My mind is fertile with ideas as I make side notes about this letter to you, and about work. But I’m still listening to the speaker, and not even close to falling asleep.

Driving home, I think about how sometimes I feel like I can’t be alone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dependent on others, I won’t shrivel up without attention, and I like to be by myself in the quiet. But on car rides home, or when the house gets empty, I always reach for the phone to figure out who I can call. I like checking up on friends, but as many people as I know, there aren’t that many people I know that I feel I can call up just to chat.

Like a cloud, the peace dissolves once I get back into the real world and begin facing the stresses, conflicts and arguments of a rude and petty world. But I will remember this night, one last beacon of peace before I sail back into the choppy waters of the next six weeks.

My prayer for you is that this same feeling of restful, calming peace will settle on you tonight.

Love always,
Beren

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | Leave a comment

Beyond the Sea

“Somewhere beyond the sea
She’s there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms I’d go sailing…”

Dear Darling,

It’s too cold on this beach; far too cold.

I was here last September and the water and air were both warm and welcoming…they gently pulled tension out of my body at a time when I greatly needed it. I need it even more this time, but all I can do is stand on the shore, warding off the chilly breeze, gazing at the plane where sky and water meet, and capturing the sunset through my camera lens.

It’s strange how fast the sun sets by the water’s edge. It’s been steady in its course all day, keeping our world warm and lit, and only now do we notice it, as it slips beyond the hemisphere’s distant rim. I’m frantically clicking away to retain these moments, probably missing the silence and significance of just sitting and watching it set. And it happens so quickly. Within seconds, it’s out of view.  The people here have the luxury of watching this same sun set every day, and as I’m down here I’m making notes for how you and I might spend time down here when the time comes.

It’s funny how your shadow often follows me that way. It’s like being haunted by a future memory, sad only because it’s not yet happy, but it’s gilded with the knowledge that one day it will be.  You’re the only person I want to tell about my day, and the person I can’t talk to. But right now I’m not entirely sad about that. I’m standing on the shore listening to the waves crash and watching the gulls soar. I think it’s too cold for that seaside wistfulness to set in. But that’s okay too. I’m just down here for a few days. When two calendar pages have been filled and the air is warmer, I’ll return and stay longer.

Overall the weather is warmer than back home. I know spring will be coming soon there too, but here I am down here with the palm trees and the beach and the waves. I get restless again. Desire increases and my body reminds me that it’s “up” for all kinds of action if my soul would only indulge. The body, a traitor with only appetite to guide it, would have me betray you Darling…and that can never be.

My host is grossly overweight for his size and age, but he’s knowledgeable about most subjects, and probably smarter than me. I’m not charmed that he’s rooming with his girlfriend, but they are both courteous in letting me stay at his family’s home and taking me around the city. As we drive down the seaside highway, he belts out every song that comes on the radio. For some reason, I hesitate to sing. I’m anything but shy, and it makes me wonder if it’s true what they say about me, that I’m too buttoned-up. When he jokes, I make sure to laugh, but his jokes don’t genuinely amuse me that much. I think maybe I am a little too tense and somber. Maybe I’ve lost that spirit of the little child that Jesus looks for in us. Which is funny, because I have no hesitations about acting like a child or getting down on a child’s level. I usually like (and get along with) people much older or much younger than I.

Anyway, self-ruminations are never far beyond you-ruminations.

I’m glad I took this trip. I needed it. It wasn’t about finding myself, or escaping. It was just a journey alone, a respite, time to be by myself and breathe. I’ve never earned anything quite so hard as this, and it’s done me good. My resting heart rate is much lower than it was.

But it’s only a halfway point, with still much to be done upon tomorrow’s return…and plenty to do between now and then!

I hope your mind and heart are at ease tonight, Darling.

Love soon,
Beren

“It’s far beyond the star
It’s near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon

We’ll meet beyond the shore
We’ll kiss just as before
Happy we’ll be, beyond the sea
And never again I’ll go sailing.”

March 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sundry Thoughts for March

My Darling,

It’s true, there are many days when darkness closes in and my strength fails me.

But then there are days when I excel and conquer and am strong. Sometimes it comes through achievement, and sometimes it comes from reaching the times of rest and respite. In my case, both. I worked over the weekend, and studied to improve on some academic challenges. I spent a short night of sleep and a long day on the hospital floor, followed by another short night of sleep and an even longer day on the floor. Over 22 hours worked in three days with a cumulative total of about ten hours of sleep. And you know what the funny thing is? I don’t even feel tired. I was coming home tonight and I thought about how I felt well enough that I might fix you dinner, or at least help with it, if you were in my life.

In the meantime, I’m writing again, preparing to travel, preparing to move, scheduling to work another 25 – 30 hours this weekend, and still finding time to work out and try to sculpt your future groom’s body a little bit so he’s easier on your eyes. It’s good to be back in a better place.

1) It was cold and it snowed again yesterday. It made me want to come home and curl up together with you again. It made me want to wrap you up like your favorite sweater, hold you close, lay your head on my chest, give you warmth and comfort.

2) There’s a girl in my class who is my age, although in some ways she seems older and in some ways younger. Sometimes we study together, and she admits freely to me and to the professor that she has no intention of pouring her entire life into the material, because her marriage comes first. I admire someone who recognizes marriage takes work, and applies herself to the labor. I know it requires effort, I just don’t yet know what that will look like. It’s like when I journeyed to the island last year to build a missions house. I didn’t know what the job required, I just knew it would be work. (And it was work!)

3) I had a thought the other day, tell me if you think this is romantic. You’ve heard of blind dates. What about a blindfolded date? What if I took you out — say, after we’re well acquainted and well-trusted with each other — and took you to a restaurant blindfolded? I’d lead you inside and you’d have to guess where we were. I’d give you a menu and you’d have to point at the option and let me decide if you’d actually like it. (Okay, maybe I’d read it to you.) Or maybe you’d give me the basic ingredients and I could pick a dish. When it comes, I’d feed you. After that, I’d take you to get ice cream and you’d choose it just by the flavor. We could go on a walk in the park with you holding my arm and walking behind me, trusting me for every step. Sound off…does that sound kind of intriguing, or kind of creepy?

4) I was working in a different and unusual unit today. My patients were good, and my colleagues and I seemed to work and gel nicely together. There were times when the conversation turned naughty and I found other tasks to occupy myself (it surprises me how frank some people can be in discussing their sex lives with coworkers!) but woman on my right (we’ll call her R) was surprised that the man on my left (we’ll call him L) wasn’t getting any sex from his wife, and for nearly a month. She felt sorry for his four-week famine, and as you know I’m not shy about standing up on principle, and told her I was preparing to inaugurate my twenty-seventh year of it. In this, and in other attitudes, R mentioned that my disposition seemed transposed with that of L; that I was calm and level-headed and seemed the one who was married and settled and even in my approach. L, married and certainly at a higher earning potential and knowledge base, had a sense of humor but was high-strung and less mellow. I found her opinion fascinating, as I do any assessment of my character and behavior, and how it is perceived or stacks up against others.

5) Here’s a little secret about me: there’s a lot of things you’ll be able to get me to do just by for looking at me and saying “do it for me?”

6) I don’t think I buy that whole “love at first sight” bit, but…I just can’t shake this feeling I’ll know you when I see you. That there will be something infinitely natural about our coming together, an effortless and easy conversation riddled with “Me too!” and “really? You? Awesome.” It will be a broadening smile, and as I find out more about you, who have already set my heart on a course to outpace its natural rhythms, I’ll quickly decide we must meet again. I will get your number, your e-mail address, your Facebook or, if the situation is right, I’ll ask you to dinner. I just think I’ll know you when I see you. That I won’t have to give up what I’ve been looking for, and will finally know what I’ve been waiting for. That you’ll just be “the real thing.” That’s probably why I still spend time scanning the faces of crowds, looking for that combination of serenity and savvy, winsomeness and wit, innocence and mischief. Oh, I don’t expect an easy search, my dear. It’s just a little thought dangling off the back of my brain.

7) She said thank you.

No one ever said thank you before, not that I can recall. I’ve poured heart and soul, time, money, sleep and stress for something I believe in. I was once on the verge of making about $50,000 a year to do what I’ve been doing now, for free. I don’t think anyone has ever said thank you. I even put all that to the side, laid it down to narrow in my concentration on academics. Yet she needed my help, even from two thousand miles away, and I lent it because I still believed in the cause. And one night, out of the blue, she called up just to say thank you.

There’s been times when she abruptly snapped out of our business conversations just to inquire after me personally, such as asking how my heart was. She’s attractive, intelligent, industrious, compassionate…and heartbreaking. Were circumstances otherwise, I probably would already have made alternate travel arrangements. And she forces me right back into the vicious mental undertow of asking how much heartache the right woman would be worth.

8) I’m torn on how I will present these to you one day, my dear. I want you to read them now. There are times when I want to use them as a lure, give them to the rare people who present with qualities I expect to find in you. I want you to have the full download on me, even at my disadvantage. I want you to know about me, and want to know about me. What better way than by reading the bleeding ink-blots of my soul transcribed here? But part of me wants you to wait, to let me win your love naturally, and then let me tip my hand to show you something even more wonderful lurks in this heart of mine.

9) I can’t wait to study you. I can’t wait to stalk your Facebook and internet history. I can’t wait to listen to your family history, memorize all the significant points of your life which would be trivia to anyone else. I can’t wait to memorize your favorite dishes, your likes and dislikes. I’m looking forward to analyzing your thoughts, dreams, emotions, body language, habits. I’m looking forward to describing some things about yourself that even you have never thought of. I’m looking forward to spending a lifetime taking graduate level courses in Luthienology, learning about you and how you change and grow and respond to me and the world around us.

This year is challenging me so far, my dear. It may be that the Lord has been merciful to us both by sparing us a relationship that would have suffered during this time, and that once I’m over the greater challenge, I will find you at the bottom of the hill. Please, please wait for me.

Yours,
Beren

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Sundry Thoughts | 1 Comment

It’s Snowing

Dear Darling,

My walks outdoors are less of late. It’s cold, and I’m so busy now. But I went out tonight. It’s snowing, and I like snow. It’s like a thousand fragments of calm floating down, and you can stand with your face upturned and let it settle on your face. A flashlight illumines the vast and silent invasion, as well as my breath. My breath escapes spiraling off into the night as if it’s glad to be free.

It’s been a long day, and even though it’s snowed since this morning, there’s none on the grass.

Life is getting even harder and more stressful right now. In some ways, more difficult than ever. I know that’s not what you want to hear, Darling; I know you want to hear that your Beren is strong and prospering. Well my dear, he’s okay, but he’s trying to tread water in a runaway flood. As always, I turn to God, trying to find the words, trying to find the balance and the calm I need inside my own head — a balance between accepting the struggles on the path appointed, and asking that God take this cup from me. It’s confusing how you do what you’re almost positive He wants you to do, and still find yourself inadequate. As I reflect, it occurs to me that failure is either to teach us to rely on God, or to tell us we’re not in His will. Since I try to give Him each one of my undertakings, certainly the major ones, I find this concept difficult. I need Him to intervene again, because I find myself wholly inadequate for the tasks I’m pursuing now. We’re told God never gives us more than we can handle. I think He does, just to remind us to lean on Him.

It’s funny how the eyes feel the lack of sleep the most. Some say eyes are the window to the soul, others say they’re the door. I think mine would speak volumes if the right person cared to look deep enough.

Every day, I’m confronted with the fact that you’re not here, and how I’m really just not okay with that. I think about how this would have been such a good night to go out on a date. I could take you to a lovely Italian restaurant, or find one on the 23rd floor of a tower in the city, with a breathtaking view of lights and cars and snow. We could be falling in love, right now. We could be walking an extra step closer, the heart strumming an extra beat faster. We could be arm and arm, telling each other’s secrets, opening into each other’s lives just a little bit more. We could both be feeling that wonderful peace and inner warmth of thinking this is finally it. We could be in a warm car while the snow blows across the road, talking about our lives, our thoughts and our dreams. You could be burying your face into the warmth of my wool coat as we hug goodnight.

We could stand on the porch, freezing yet stalling because we don’t want to say goodbye. Our conversation would be effortless even when it’s awkward. We would both know it’s awkward, but still both quite content with that, knowing neither of us wants the night to end. Maybe we’d pull in for a last hug before you release me to my car. But you wouldn’t let me go, and I don’t want you to. Maybe you’d whisper that you don’t want tonight to end.  Maybe we’d hold each other tighter, and when you lift your face, I surprise us both by kissing you. We’d both pull back smiling, needing no more words except goodnight. We’d both part company, each of us halfway over the moon, and each of us just a little bit more in love with the other.

I can see it all now, and so many wonderful things besides. It feels like they should be here, but they aren’t, and I’m finding that hard. I miss the stability that having someone else gives. I want to close my eyes and relax in your love, not needing or wanting anything else. Your love will stabilize me, just as my love will stabilize you. It will always be there, waiting, no matter what kind of day you had. Things are haywire in life and I need that stability.

I miss talking to you. There’s always something new or big happening, always a story to tell. Whether I’m seen in full color photographs of national newspapers, or eyewitness to incredible stories of patient care at the hospital, not a day goes by I don’t want to pick up the phone and tell you what I’m doing, to make you proud, and to share in the dismal and the glorious of your day.

It’s the same old story, isn’t it? Snatching different moments out of the day and pairing them with the memories I keep thinking we should be making. And I’ll keep doing it, keep scanning the horizon for you with these tired eyes, hoping you get here soon.

Love,
Beren

March 2, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | Leave a comment