Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

My Heart Sees You

Dear Darling,

I can see you.

I see you out there, clinging to hope like a climber’s cleft, trying to be strong, just hoping to break even. I see the glory and solitude of the season descending on you, the epoch of bitter and sweet. You’re happy to be doing well on your own. (After all, the mere act of life — with its licenses and setbacks and deadlines and demands — can be gargantuan!) You’re on your own and you’re managing. You’re keeping your head above the tide, you’re keeping the colors within the lines. But it’d be nice to have someone to lean on.

You want rescuing, but you don’t want to want it. You want the hurt to end, you just want a piece of life without its loneliness, without a missing ingredient you can neither name nor place. You want rest and peace. Your eyes are tired from seeking the face of a familiar stranger.

You want to let go, but you don’t want to fall. If you let go, you want to be caught, but not by just anyone. There aren’t many you’d actually trust to catch you, and you’d really rather they be the one destined to catch you for the rest of your life.

You want to be cared for, wrapped up, held. It’s cold outside…just the weather for warm drinks and cuddling on the couch while watching a movie.

You’re tired. Tired of the rhythm of your weary feet, the passing of the years, the meals cooked for one. Tired of trying your best, only to have no one to tell you you are the best.

You’re tired of the almosts and not-quites, the posers, doppelgangers and imposters.

You’re tired of eating alone, and sleeping alone, and being alone. You’re tired of faking a smile every day of your life, because no one will help you carry your sadness, or give you a reason to smile.

You’re tired of the happy couples, the romantic movies and the love songs. You’re tired of pregnant moms and beautiful babies, tired of people telling you you’d be a great mom, asking you when your turn will come.

You’re tired of always having to do the heavy lifting, of being consumed from the inside out, of having to soothe yourself. Tired of feeling like the future is perpetually on hold.

Day is cold, night is long, silence is bitter. You want life to get started. You want to be understood, or for someone to at least try. You don’t want to be trapped anymore. You want a hello with promise, and goodbyes without fear.

You don’t want to be lonely.

Darling, it’s alright. I see you. Not with eyes, not the spectrum of mortal color channeled through the optic nerve, but a sense of the heart, a perception of the soul, an echo of eternity. I know what you feel, I see what you dream.

You aren’t alone.

I’ll get there. I spend every night praying I’ll get to be your hero soon. We are two years closer to our meeting, and though each day has been passed in loneliness and solitude, it is two years of waiting that are complete and behind us. Take heart! White fire and pure reward await those who fulfill their oaths.

Love,
Beren

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Our Timeline, To Be The One, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sundry Thoughts on a Frigid Night

Even Santa needs Mrs. Claus

Even Santa needs Mrs. Claus

Dear Luthien,

It’s after 3 a.m. on a frigid November night. I’ve been up almost 40 hours with only a four-hour nap to take the edge off. And yes, if you were here you’d close the lid and make me go to bed, because you’re thoughtful like that and I love you for it. But you’re not here. I’m free to be so irresponsible as to stay up and write to you, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop me.

1) It’s funny the changes in mood and outlook, and how they vary. That’s why we can’t rely on something as vague and transient as emotion. Yesterday I realized that, short of meeting you, life seemed to be going well. It’s a period of time where I’m competent and entrenched in the flow of juggling all the tasks in life and keeping a good rhythm. Then today I woke up from my nap and felt depressed. No, I don’t know why. I’m sure a little more sleep will remedy the problem.

2) Likewise, at work last night you could have convinced me I was the best in the hospital. We become different people depending on who we’re around, and once again I received the compliment of someone hoping they would work with me again.

3) I’m comfortable in my own skin, but there are times I need to know how I appear to others. I can’t wait to look at myself through your eyes. I want to see myself, failures and successes. I want to see the giant you look up to, and the flaws you rightfully abhor. You see, we’re constantly told we should compare and compete only against the person we were yesterday, not against other people. And yet, we should let another’s lips praise us and not our own. The end sum of those two axioms is that you can’t praise yourself, and you can’t gauge yourself based on the praise of others.

We all want to know we are good and brave and kind and skilled and compassionate. We strive for it. For my part, every time I allow myself to think I am, the built-in warning in my head cautions against pride. So Darling, I need to be told these things, and reminded of them. (And likewise, I must remember to do the same for you.) Alegfast left me a note of validation the other day, telling me he was proud of my work ethic. (It was after another one of those legendary 24-hour days.) I need to remember to leave validating notes for you like that, and I hope you can leave sticky note stepping stones of encouragement for me as well.

4) You know that identifying or blending with this culture is a losing battle for me. Chivalry, vigilance and virtue are scarcely prioritized. Add to that, the disparity of difficulty between jobs. Specifically, the concept of a “bad day at work.” During my appointed rounds, I contend with illness and pain and blood and death; the basest of circumstances are par for the course. How does one fit into a culture whose major problems are jammed copiers and difficult traffic? How do you make someone understand that while they were nursing a paper cut, you were holding back the hair of a patient wracked with liver disease as she vomited blood infected with hepatitis? And how do you avoid developing an ego or overdeveloped sense of significance based on these differences?

5) Do you like poetry as much as I do? Not the feeble and senseless meanderings without rhyme, reason or rhythm, but the kind intricately-woven and skillfully paced both to please the mind and to soothe the soul. I buy poetry books in pursuit of poems about you. Sometimes I sit and read them aloud to myself. I believe I’ve affirmed before that I would equally enjoy reading them to you.

6) I told you I’m done with my Christmas shopping. This year marks the another step in the circle’s completion, going from the boy who receives to the man who gives. That’s the transition we should all experience as we grow. I like becoming Santa Claus; I like finding and giving gifts. Mind you, even Santa needs Mrs. Claus.

7) I read some articles lately that I think you might appreciate. This one reminds you all the perks of dating someone in the medical profession. (They’re true.) This article is helpful to identify that lust isn’t just a man’s problem. Third, this article from a Christian source discussing virginity, and its alleged overemphasis in churches. I understand the sentiments behind it, but truly it seemed only to devalue yours and my struggle.

8) I was driving by the Bridge last night, and saw a man and woman walking their dogs in the cold. Sounds like fun, don’t you think? You with your dog and me with mine?

9) An unmarried classmate noted that she was going to spend a few days at her boyfriend’s house. For a moment I allowed my mind to enter the mindset of what it would be like to be married, and know I was going to see you and stay with you. A bright, momentary flash of heat ignited in my heart to imagine what it would be like to know some red-hot monogamy was pending on our calenders.

10) One of my parents celebrated a birthday recently. It’s funny how the relationship changes as time goes by. For the first time, you notice your dad is greying at the temples, or that your mom is repeating news. (I can’t point fingers on that, I’ve been known to repeat stories.) We don’t like to think of parents as human. We don’t like to think of them as having doubts, or flaws…or sex. We don’t like to think about the reversal of roles. But they’ve always been there for us, and we have to understand that one day, if not already now, we’ll have to be there for them. It’s a phase we all experience, those of us blessed to have good parents. You’d like mine, I think.

11) I wish I had grandparents. I wish I could introduce you to a really cool grandma that meant so much in my life. But I don’t. They’re either gone or were never in my life to begin with. Maybe you’ll have a pair or two that you wouldn’t mind sharing? I’ll gladly adopt them.

12) Finally my dear, I want to thank you for reading. When I’ve had a bad day — and even when I haven’t — talking to you through these letters makes it better. It makes me feel like it wasn’t all in vain and that maybe you’re out there somewhere, caring for me.

Love,
Beren

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Sundry Thoughts | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waking Love Suffereth No Sleep

Iambicum Trimetrum
Edmund Spenser

Unhappy verse, the witness of my unhappy state,
Make thy self flutt’ring wings of thy fast flying
Thought, and fly forth unto my love, wheresoever she be:
Whether lying restless in heavy bed, or else
Sitting so cheerless at the cheerful board, or else
Playing alone careless on her heavenly virginals.
If in bed, tell her, that my eyes can take no rest:
If at board, tell her, that my mouth can eat no meat:
If at her virginals, tell her, I can hear no mirth.
Asked why? say: waking love suffereth no sleep:
Say that raging love doth appal the weak stomach:
Say, that lamenting love marreth the musical.
Tell her, that her pleasures were wont to lull me asleep:
Tell her, that her beauty was wont to feed mine eyes:
Tell her, that her sweet tongue was wont to make me mirth.
Now do I nightly waste, wanting my kindly rest:
Now do I daily starve, wanting my lively food:
Now do I always die, wanting thy timely mirth.
And if I waste, who will bewail my heavy chance?
And if I starve, who will record my cursed end?
And if I die, who will say: “This was Immerito”?

November 23, 2013 Posted by | Poems | , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Years and Four Hundred Thirty Letters Later

Answer to a Valentine

Darling Mine,

It has been two years since I began secreting these letters online anonymously.

Five years since I first began writing to you at all.

There are now two hundred and fifty-five letters online, meaning I’ve written you more than one letter every week for the last year.

There are another one hundred seventy five in my private vault.

Four hundred and thirty letters with your name on them. Four hundred thirty letters we can read together; we could read one letter every day for a year and not have finished them. Are you pleased? Do you doubt the strength of my commitment? Is it even possible that any hesitation remains? Throne and crown and scepter, all await; you need only come forward and claim your throne to be crowned queen of my heart.

Until then, I’ll cherish every opportunity to write to you, and hope that these letters give you joy and hope, fueling your love, strengthening our bond.

Sealed with a kiss,
Beren

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Our Timeline | , , , , | Leave a comment

Weathering the Storm

Dear Darling,

Why is it I always arrive to the starting line of a long week and feel more tired than at its end? I ask that question right up until I recount all the things I’ve done this weekend. Then I know why.

Ah, why is it I’m so weak these days? Again I tell you, if you were here now, you’d not have to work hard to win my interest. Show sympathy. Care. Give me a little strength. A little bit would go a long way, and pity the poor people who don’t realize how great a small deed would seem. But no, they have their own storms to weather.

I got that third job. I just thought you’d like to know. It’s nice to have the freedom to make those decisions, but believe me, if we were together, you and I would talk about it long before. As it is, it’s just the same job in a different department. And yes, it’s in addition to my work now. So that’s three jobs, freelance writing and school. (Did you know, throwing yourself at your life is an excellent mechanism to cope and escape loneliness?)

I’m having a hard time caring about tomorrow’s exam too. 

I think I’ve officially made the transition to Christmas music. I turned it on the other night while working. The season goes by so fast now, I’ve no objections to extending it out a little — but only to mid-November. None of this November 1st business.

I think this winter will be dark and cold…if we’re lucky. I believe I’ve made clear my penchant for adverse weather of most sorts, with the expected caveat that no lives are lost in the doing. I love a good storm. We were expecting them today, but I only ever saw an afternoon of gusty rain showers. It’s always nice when the weather obliges your mood, and there’s nothing like standing outside in the dark and reveling in a great wind, letting the rain pelt my face. It was also great napping weather. Perhaps it would take a few months before all we could do was just nap together.

There are other storms on the horizon. There are many who say very difficult times are in store for this country. I agree with them. You may think me crazy, but if we accept that someone will not always be there to look after us, there is a need to store supplies and prepare.

I really need to leave that megachurch and set out to find a true fellowship of believers. Though they fed me twice today, and there are now so many people I know well, and who think highly of me, they don’t feed me spiritually. I’m weakening and malnourished in a church which caters to eyes accustomed to darkness. Although, tonight I saw a young man and woman standing off in a corner, with their arms around each other — praying. They retreated to solitude to pray together! It was a blessing to behold. Would you like to come along and wrap your arms around me to pray? Do you have any idea how startling, discomforting and refreshing that would be, all at once? While you’re at it, would you like to witness my malnourished state, give me a gently disapproving look, and drag me off to a real church? Sometimes the person we need rescuing most from is ourselves.

The neighbor drove up today to drop off their son. It’s painfully obvious it’s another one of those “weekend share” arrangements. How can people traumatize children like this? In the darkest and remotest of worst-case scenarios that you and I awoke to find we were not what either of us considered a “suitable fit” for each other (which would reflect poorly on our selection procedures) it would not matter, because marriage is a vow we made to each other, not a promise contingent on our feelings. If I decided some day that I did not love you by feeling, I would love you by choice…a conscious everyday decision to treat you with love. A promise is a promise.

You think you could carry me tonight if I asked you, my dear? During the race I ran, I felt like quitting many times. My feet constantly told me they couldn’t take the abuse. It becomes a mental exercise, to master limb and bone and trudge on. 

Here is a song of beauty and weariness for you to listen to while you’re waiting, my dear. Pardon tonight’s frank honesty. 

Love,
Beren

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness | , , | Leave a comment

Young Love’s Recital

“How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossow shew’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
That I to manhood am arrived so near;
And inward ripeness doth much less appear,
That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th. …”

Dear Darling,

She played piano wonderfully. A distant friend of mine, during her senior recital. She sent an invitation, but it was mostly a courtesy and a formality; I’m here pretty much at my own invitation. I harbor no illusions that my presence is of any significance to those gathered. I guess you could say I’m here for me. I figured a little live music and change of scenery wouldn’t be unpleasant.

I feel a sad sort of bemusement as I look around the room. There are familiar faces from churches in my past, few of whom know me, or if they do, bother to recognize me. One assistant pastor greeted me by name which surprised me.

I wonder how it is a person can amass so many friends. My own funeral could never pack this many people into a room, there’s well over a hundred, just for two girls. I’m sitting by myself, and I can’t be sure, but I think the girl in red across the room is making eyes at me. I’m sure I stand out, being tall, well-dressed and single. It’s been weeks since I’ve worn a tie. It’s an improvement.

That’s her boyfriend over there, the one whose height nearly rivals mine. Ours is an on-and-off friendship, but mostly off. We’ve had conversations lasting hours, pondering questions, sharing stories, being thoughtful about life and its meaning. He always ends by saying he enjoys our talks and we should do it more often. He never does.

It’s important to remember, this isn’t my turf, these aren’t my people. I’m just here for the music and to support a friend…one who doesn’t even know I’m here. But at times, it’s tempting to compare this place to my college experience, and think how it would have been nice to attend a cloistered liberal arts college which focuses on teamwork and friendship. It’s a club. These people know everything about each other but little about real life. They don’t know that they don’t know. They’re in debt up to their scalps, but they’re too early in to feel that weight, and anyway, it’s what all their friends did. They’ve only ever lived with, traveled with and studied with Christian friends. They haven’t had to defend their faith, and the most dangerous and rebellious they’ve gotten is sipping wine at the house of a graduated friend. This is the era of society and silliness and selfishness. I guess maybe that’s the way it should be. Let the young people be young…why should they forgo these years just because I came by another road?

There’s something I like about being an unknown; tall, dark and incognito. I guess I’ll always be alone in the crowd. The consolation is, I’m armed with the hidden means and knowledge to save the lives of these strangers if need be, though they don’t know it.

It’s actually a dual recital, with my friend’s counterpart playing violin, and admirably so. Upon the night’s conclusion, the usual applause is checked when the violinist is approached by a man who takes both her hands and speaks her name. The audience audibly sucks their collective breath in and holds it, knowing what’s about to follow. He sinks to one knee and proposes. She said yes. We all cheered. My heart sighed.

Young love. Not yet newly-christened in the latest decade of their lives, barely suited to take on the world, and already betrothed. The sweet is tempered with knowledge that life has a lot to throw at them that they don’t even realize yet, that soon they’ll have to leave this artificially protective bubble and make their own way in the world, and all won’t be as it once was. They don’t know it now, but they’re going to miss these years.

A queer thought revisits; that I’ve already missed “young love.” I’ve already missed a spring of love when we could have been carefree and innocent. I may not be old in the eyes of men, but there are more miles on my heart than my birth certificate would suggest. Now love, when it comes, will have to compete with work and study and obligations. It makes me sad.

Oh, I’m ripe for the picking tonight my dear. My heart is raw and exposed like a nerve. It wants only compassion and tenderness. You need only stretch out your hand tonight to make it yours.

So, armed with a somber melancholy, I set off to make the rounds, checking in with people in a half-hearted attempt to shift the focus off of myself. Most of them are about to sleep, or occupied with their own problems. Seems I’m not the only one feeling whimsically forlorn tonight.

I have an interview tomorrow for a third job. I should either be sleeping or working, but I felt more like hiding. I worked last night and slept this morning, so despite what my tired eyes are telling me, odds are I won’t be able to sleep yet.

I see the neighbors through the window, eating dinner and then implementing a school night lights-out. I think about the concept of bedtime, and how we’ll make our kids go to bed, and then we’ll stay up. When I was young, I used to think it was so unfair my parents could stay up as late as they wanted. I’d dread having to get up to the bathroom because they were usually sitting in the living room and would chastise me for being up late.

I think about how I’ve helped raise three of my siblings and am still scared of having children.

I wonder why I worry, about children or finances or love when God’s always taken care of me. You’d think I’d have learned by now.

I think about how, with my schedule changes, I don’t really dream anymore. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I’m thinking about coming home and finding you waiting for me wearing one of my shirts. You should definitely wear one of my shirts.

Life is poised to be amazing, my dear. All I lack is you.

Love,
Beren

“Yet, be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot, however mean or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven.
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great Task-Master’s eye.”

– John Milton

November 15, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | , , , , , | 2 Comments

If You Want To Win Me Over…

03. Borsos, Jozsef - The Dissatisfied Painter (Crisis in the Life of a Painter),1852

“And who would have thought that you’d be the one
That I would have found here waiting?
Lost in this night until you arrived
And always too blind to see;
And who would have thought that after this time
That I’d be the one you’re saving?”

Dear Darling,

People — including wives — once had very strict ideas about what a wife’s duty was; little more than to support her husband. I’m hardly so chauvinist as to think that is the sole purpose of womankind, and yet, would it be so chauvinist if I also held that belief’s opposite, that my primary purpose on this earth is to love, support, serve and provide for you and our family? In society’s haste to loose women from the chains which bound them, look at what we’ve done to our world. It was only fair to set men free from their obligation as well, and the bond of family itself is unraveling. We overturned kindness and compassion, restraint and charity along with it.

Society notwithstanding, my obligations are and must always be to serve God, and to serve my family…to serve you. Up to and including laying down my life.

Have you ever given thought to your obligations, or how you might win me over?

If you ever wondered how to win me over, start by being kind. You needn’t be a model or an astrophysicist. You needn’t even be altogether impervious and strong. Man, after all, feels a little diminished in his purpose if there is no one for whom he can be brave. Just be kind. Be loving, compassionate, supportive, nurturing. If you set out to win a man’s heart, start by becoming indispensable. Be a fountain of refreshment and retreat, someone who is safe and encouraging. Such a fountain will seldom fail to draw a man in, if for no other reason than to be intrigued by such a nurturing soul.

If someone showed me that kind of gentle, consistent support and grace, it would go far to win me over. But it seems no one of comparable worth ever made such an effort. And it’s sad, because I feel my walls rebuilding, and redoubling at such a speed as to leave gaps. Loneliness contemplates strange ambitions within those gaps.

One of the things I do when I’m bored is scroll back through my texts to see who I haven’t texted in a while, who should be checked in on, who needs encouraging. I could use friends who reach out to check in, just to show they’re thinking of me. I can’t help but look back over the people I’ve fought for, the people I’ve lifted up, and how they move on and leave you behind. Even those living under the provision of the Lord still need to be fought for. Think about Elijah. He was on an errand for the kingdom of heaven, but when he felt alone, he fled, collapsed and asked the Lord to take his life. The Lord fed him, stood him on his feet, showed him His power, and told him he wasn’t alone. I guess maybe I need someone to see that, to tell me that.

Especially tonight. I’m sick again. I’ve been sick a lot this year; it comes of burning the candle at both ends. I can’t tell you how it would warm the heart to have someone, a voice or a name from the past, reach back in and show tenderness and care. Is it selfish? Am I so selfish, who have stood at the ready to fight for you on so many occasions? Who have been supportive to so many, reached out in compassion to so many? When illness meets weariness and I am lain by the roadside, is it so wrong to wish a soul would come by, even unexpectedly, to help me up and stand beside me? Perhaps not; but apparently it is too much to ask, in the end.

Someone hooked a finger at me last night, pulling me aside in the crowd to tell me they wanted me to meet someone. I barely knew the woman that was asking, let alone the woman she recommended, but in the spirit of openness, I provided my number to hear her pitch. I began by asking what made her think we would be a good match, not knowing me. “Because you’d make such a cute couple,” was her reply. If it were only that simple.

Sometimes I’d like to show someone these letters, to give them a true understanding of this heart, of what they’re up against; to make them want to try harder; to show them what they missed. Sometimes I wish the Lady Kirche had seen them, and wonder what her response would have been. I know if I’d found a cache of love letters written by someone I was courting, it would be a game-changer. It would fill me with a desire to become that person, to be worthy of the one to whom the letters were written. But that would be like staging a death to witness one’s own funeral. Such an advanced preview wouldn’t be fair…would it?

Sometimes I feel like King David. He was a soldier and king, “a man after God’s own heart”, a warrior’s heart and a poet’s soul sharing the same body and destiny. He too poured out his soul, in psalm after psalm, alternating joy and anguish. He was unique to his day; men are seldom so honest. But then, he was also the leader of a band of rowdy men. It seems strange he made no efforts to convert them to God, yet God smiled upon him in his efforts. Maybe that’s a lesson. Sometimes I feel I should have been less conservative, lived a little more ragged. Life has taught me, most women don’t want someone who is good. They want someone good enough…someone even whom they can reform, but who is “bad” enough to excite them and feel a little wild.

Alagfast is gone all next week. I will enjoy the silence. And as of tonight, most of my Christmas shopping is done.

I should sleep. Daylight brooks no delay for saddened hearts.

Always,
Beren

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Babysitting the Beast

Dear Darling,

Do not awaken love before its time, cautioned Song of Solomon. Of course, no one really knows when the time of love is, but its definition seems self-reflexive — the time of love will be when love’s time arrives.

Well, it’s too late now. Love hasn’t arrived and the beast has. Sure, the goal was to prolong desire’s hibernation…to soothe and pacify and silence it and avoid the torture. I did a good job for the first two decades of my life. I didn’t try to awaken it.

But now it’s awake, and its hunger-pangs groan deeper than any thunder-clap. Now I’m stuck here babysitting a monster. It’s not just any dragon that a knight such as I might challenge; it’s part of me. It is the dragon within. It’s part of who I was created to be, and no matter how hard I try, denying it is denying myself. Maybe that’s what Christ meant about taking up the cross and denying one’s self. But no matter how much the church overlooks or insulates us from sex, the truth is that we were born with a sexual identity, a desire which defines us. Put simply, a part of our nature was created to have sex — to need it, desire it, crave it, pursue it. To exist as you and I do (or in the darker side of my dreams, as only I do) is to live out a paradox every day. Silencing the demand, rebuking the fire against every yearning and instinct.

Only those who hold fast to the end will be saved. And, we are what we feed. I haven’t been unfaithful to you, and partly only because I never trust myself on the matter. But this mind, this foolish, sinful clump of gray matter between my ears takes itself to places it knows it shouldn’t go, and drags me along because it knows we both like it.

I’m clinging to physical purity with a death grip, Darling, but the world in which I live feeds aught but desire. I need your prayers, and your appreciation. Darling…tell me it matters. Please, please tell me it matters. Tell me it’s important to you. Tell me you value this battle and are grateful that I’m fighting it. Tell me it makes you love me more. Flatter me with how relieved and glad it makes you. Tell me resistance has made a difference. Tell me you’re looking forward to the other side, where we can be free. Please. Without that, it’s going to be that much harder to remember what I’m fighting for, or why.

Love,
Beren

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Purity | , , , | 3 Comments

Requiem For a Day Gone By

20. Perez, Fabian - Baladas In Buenos Aires

“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er”

Dear Darling,

Again the thought comes to me in amusement, how I can burn so brightly the days in labor and study and then arrive at a day like today, containing no work or school obligations, containing no true obligations whatsoever — exactly the kind of day I needed — and I find myself bored. Did I tell you once, a friend observed how quickly I took to restlessness, noted I seemed to require “constant stimulation” and then noted that my future wife would have her hands full. Well yes and no, because in your presence I’m sure you will apply a steadying, calming influence and make me more content to apply the brakes. But in some ways, it does seem like the day was “wasted.”

Actually, I reviewed and signed a contract for the sale of a website, researched another article, submitted a supplemental document for the state medical reserve corps, laid plans for Christmas gifts, and attended a movie premiere tonight.

Tell me, how was your world today? Was your day productive? Did you find time to be happy, or to slow down and breathe, pray, to think of me? Is it cold where you are?

When was the last time someone said something genuinely encouraging or complimentary about you? It’s not uncommon to hear negative remarks from many — including myself —  and there’s just too much of that in the world. I’ve been trying to work on my encouragement, to some success. But on the opposite side of that, some remarks this have occasioned a reexamination of my reluctance towards accepting praise.

We all want to be unique and inspirational, to thought helpful and useful and wise. We all want to be someone of whom other think well. But as much as I strive for this to be true, I don’t know how to respond when people affirm it. I attend a weekly Bible study, whose study guides I regret to say are is often filled out in haste an hour or two beforehand. The subsequent discussions are often profitable however, and during the lecture my mind clears not just to hear the Word but to jot down thoughts for the day, or goals for the week, or notes about you. During this week’s, I talked with two other men older than I, who both asked me about my thoughts on a subject, and on one point noting “I wanted you to say something” during the group discussion. The phrase surprised me, and stuck in my mind — how do you handle it when someone praises you so highly? Another day, a friend and colleague referenced another colleague and said “he’s not like you; he doesn’t put others first, he puts himself first.” Again I was surprised at the flattering candor, and it stuck with me. At work, I encountered one nurse who had not seen me in two months, but enthusiastically requested my name and manager’s name again, to commend me formally on my help during a night when a patient neared death.

I remember one morning, about four years ago. I awoke in a strange hotel room with the knowledge that I had to deliver a speech, one I had been practicing for weeks, to a crowd of over two thousand. I felt small compared to the task, and remember taking solace in the song “Hold Me Jesus” by Rich Mullins. It’s still a song I turn to when I need help asking for peace from my Savior. I gave the speech to resounding results, though none were more gratifying than my mother meeting me offstage with a fierce, tearful hug and a whispered “I’m so proud of you.”

I don’t feel wise, or smart, or insightful. Indeed, I’m continually frustrated by my own ignorance, and the time I lack to remedy it. And I find that no matter how hard I’ve tried to become a little better than myself the day before, I am naturally inclined against accepting flattery or praise. Maybe it will serve me well one day.

But day by day, whether productive or idle, it is cheering to know the days are speeding on towards our meeting. It is good to see how God provides continually for me and forge ahead the paths He appoints.

But like today, it is sometimes dismal to eye the pile of days past, smoldering and spent, and to think of what we’re missing, together. It is not written in heaven’s Book of Days, yet I cannot shake the feeling that these ought to be our days, that something is amiss because we’re not spending them forging and celebrating our love. You should be calling me on my way home from work to pick up groceries. I should be buying for two, paying for two, ordering for two. I should be brushing your cosmetics to the side of the sink, kissing you good morning, and smiling to hear you stretch.

We should be crawling into bed together at night, reading to each other, discussing the news. We should be weighing each other’s opinions, advice and counsel. We should be singing together as we wash the dishes, reminiscing our lives and memories before marriage, mulling over how and where to spend the holidays. We should be crying and fighting and laughing. We should be kissing away these evenings, dancing in the dark, cuddling on the couch — guiltlessly feeding our desire for each other, finally content to do nothing more than exist. Our days should begin and end with God and each other.

Instead, alas, I’m alone and spilling my mind onto a blank page. It’s a poor substitute.

Listen to this song tonight my dear, because it made me think of you, and I hope that wherever you are, you know once again that I’m missing you tonight.

Love,
Beren

“The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.”

– Sonnet 30, William Shakespeare

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These, Poems | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kind Are Her Answers

Kind Are Her Answers
Thomas Campion

“Kind are her answers,
But her performance keeps no day;
Breaks time, as dancers
From their own music when they stray:
All her free favors
And smooth words wing my hopes in vain.
O did ever voice so sweet but only feign?
Can true love yield such delay,
Converting joy to pain?

Lost is our freedom,
When we submit to women so:
Why do we need ’em,
When in their best they work our woe?
There is no wisdom
Can alter ends, by Fate prefixed.
O why is the good of man with evil mixed?
Never were days yet called two,
But one night went betwixt.”

November 3, 2013 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , | Leave a comment