Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

The Comfort of Darkness

Darkness“Darkness, Darkness, be my pillow, take my head and let me sleep
In the coolness of your shadow, in the silence of your deep
Darkness, darkness, hide my yearning, For the things I cannot see
Keep my mind from constant turning, to the things I cannot be
Darkness, darkness, be my blanket, cover me with the endless night
Take away the pain of knowing, fill the emptiness with light…”

Lisa Torban

Dear Darling,

I’ve a window open tonight. If there weren’t so many neighbors stirring early, I’d leave it open all night. The noises of summer’s waning come through the window, crickets and cicadas. Both species humming and chirping to attract mates, I expect. Isn’t it strange that the anthems and beauties of nature are all the music of loneliness and mating? How much of all that is beautiful and sweet in this great big world would fall silent if every living thing found its match?

When you love the darkness or the night, they call it nyctophilia. I don’t know that I love darkness intrinsically, but it has been the province of my labors all the season, and I find it beautiful when night falls, with its contemplative silence. I wrap the dark of night around me like a cloak as I walk.

Some nights, all is right with the world, and all I lack is your company. But this is a difficult time of transition for me again. I’m having troubles with my family, they’re having troubles of their own and cannot offer stability or haven. It seems most people are. Friends are fading into the background, or fighting illness, or facing untold struggles of their own. Studies resume, finances weigh, loneliness waxes, kindness wanes.

Of happiness I wrote last, of how and when it is. I have to come to learn that sometimes we don’t know happiness when we see it; sometimes we don’t recognize we’re happy until after the fact, and that by then, it’s too late. And the times are emblazoned into your memory, crystal clear, along with the ways you could have made a difference, things you should have done differently. And you want to go back, you want to explain, you want to be understood. And you can’t.

Sometimes what we think we want and what we actually want are two different things…and finding what we wanted only shows us it isn’t what we really wanted in the end. I don’t know why our subconscious plays such cruel tricks on us…why women seem to respond better to detachment, danger, disrespect even. Men find exactly what they want, but don’t want it because it would come too easy. Playing hard to get always seemed a silly game, but it works. Every woman with whom I’ve been genuine and honest and open has, eventually, rejected me. Woman who I’ve politely declined have only been more attracted. We find it strange, and yet, I often find myself pursuing the ones who reject me. Unfortunately, I find myself in the position of having to gently part ways with someone else new. I make up my mind too quickly, and I find it sad that people who look like they align so much with my beliefs and preferences simply don’t work out at all in person.

And sometimes, you grow afraid. You worry you never will find happiness, that it’s passed you by, that you poured yourself out too much for others and they took you for granted and moved on.

You can’t think like this. You have to surrender these thoughts to God. But how do you do that? Is it mere words, announcing you’re surrendering the thoughts to God?

And why is it that either married couples or unbelievers are the ones willing to lend an ear, or to advise?

I’m facing a situation now where I don’t know what to do. The Bible really doesn’t tell us about every situation, and I simply don’t know how to proceed. Forgiving someone that isn’t sorry is necessary for your own sanity, but at what point is that behavior then sanctioned, enabled, encouraged?

To hear me talk, you’d think life is one big toil and pain, and I’ve halfway dug my own grave. Is it of any use to tell you that isn’t the case? It isn’t. People decently close to me don’t see this as an ongoing trend, except perhaps that I’m more grave, vigilant and somber about the whole affair. I think my biggest problem is, seeing. I can see the chaos of the world around me taking shape. I see a degrading culture. I see that financial collapse is a very serious possibility. I see misery and want and pain. Every smile you see on the street masks some kind of hidden pain. And I see it. I see vanity and selfishness on the other side.

And I don’t act Christlike in response nearly often enough. The other night at work, someone took out his frustration on me in contempt, and I was more tempted to confront than to return a soft answer. When someone beheads an innocent onlooker or the children of God, rather than pray for them as Jesus did, I want to murder them myself. I had to force myself to pray for those enemies tonight. Those enemies were among very great company, for I also prayed for you, as I do several times a day. And I wish I had happier news to report to you. If given the choice, I’d rather people be genuine than falsely happy. And writing down genuine sorrow at least lets me get it out on paper.

No matter what, cling to the promise that we’ll carve out better days for ourselves soon, and even if the days grow even darker, we will still have each other; I’d rather stand with you in darkness than alone in light.

Yours,
Beren

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August 26, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Downtown

Church StreetDear Darling,

I’ve been meaning to go down there for a while now. Tonight, it seemed the best way to solve the silence — or at least pretend.

After all, I can’t just haunt country back roads or lonely parks. I may as well venture downtown and see what there is to see. Not that Saturday night after the races is the ideal time. It’s not like I don’t know who I’ll be seeing…the same inebriated and the partiers I saw trackside earlier, the stags and drags of the town who’ve shuffled through another week and are ready to tender their wages into drinks. They’re loud. They’re inappropriate. And they look like they’re having a darn good time. I guess those sorts of things just aren’t marked out for me…I don’t want to surrender my caution or senses to the bottle. I would be less useful to people if I did. Don’t envy the wicked, right? Don’t desire their company. Be zealous for the fear of the Lord, right? Aha, and who is fearful or zealous for the Lord anymore?

For good or ill, we’ve gotten away from who we used to be. Feminism in its more extreme sense arose in response to the perceived insult on women. But I read an intriguing theory on this construct recently. It says that the concept of male and female equality only emerged because there was no longer hardship or competition in the land. Men no longer commanded respect for founding the household, providing the food and shelter or protecting the family from danger. Man has become weakened through his success.

None of that is on my mind as I stroll passed the eateries and pubs. The landmarks are of greater interest to me. I’ve been here before, last year. I may be haunting the city, but its bittersweet memories haunt me back.

The fountain in the park presents a fetching portrait, as does the courthouse by night. As I walk along the row, I spy a lit church steeple a few blocks over, under a crescent moon. The music and frivolity are fast to die away as I make my way to the base of the church. I’m sure there was a time when a restless and world-weary fellow could walk inside and be welcomed there, and meet with his Lord silently. I do love a good empty sanctuary. But of course, it’s Saturday night in the city, and nobody’s home. Those lights are just for show. (I’ve known Christians like that.)

It doesn’t last long. ‘Tis no place can quell the dissonant vacancies that stir my heart night after night.

I know one reason why I’m restless. It’s not just the weather. It’s that I’m not useful. I’m not really caring for anyone. Today I worked, but I only put on band-aids and tended drunks, not the truly ailing. Nor do I mean just patients. I guarantee I’ll be restless even through the summer as I work. I mean you. I keep thinking of places to go or things we can do. I keep thinking of nice things to do for you, and then those inspirations just sit unused.

It’s my job to make sure you’re okay, and I’m not able to. There’s a lot of things in this life trying to make sure you’re NOT okay and I’m sorry I’m not there to balance those out. Such a mystery God would create a heart bent on giving, and then withhold the soul who would receive it.

Rest well tonight, love. See you soon.

Beren

P.S. Did you know that humans glow?

May 4, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These, Restlessness | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rainlight

RainlightDear Darling,

We’re coming down to it…the term’s end, and summer’s beginning. But a few hurdles lie ahead, though large ones. I’ve finally been free enough to work some, and probably should be working tonight, as late as I’m up. But I’m not.

I think it’s going to rain today.

In fact, I know it will, because through the window I can hear the marching synchrony of raindrops on the streets outside. It’s knocked off a bit of the restless wandering urge, this rain, but only a little. It was a cold and steady arm around my shoulder as I walked in it tonight, getting soaked and trying to find the words to compose a prayer. I didn’t have much to say, but couldn’t hear much in return either. It’d be easier if all we had to do is listen, wouldn’t it?

I can hear a distant siren crying out as I pick my way down the sidewalk. The dripping trees offer little shelter as I pass under them, but I didn’t come out here for shelter. The street lights offer their own interpretation of the rain and bounce their light off the glistening pavement. The stone statue of a dog arrests my attention for a half-second before I see it’s only a statue. By the time I’ve returned, a half-hour has passed, and it seems very little has transpired between my Maker and I.

Of all the important things I should want or pray for, of all the sins I should confess or blessings I should count, all the petitions and praises I should offer, it’s only for you that I ask. To find you, and that until then you may find blessing. It’s the only thing I can give you. And for some strange reason, the thought crosses my mind that maybe you’re finding your blessing in the arms of another man tonight. I can only sigh and ask the Lord to let me find someone no less or more flawed than me. I’m sure that will be a low standard with which to measure.

There aren’t many people left to talk to these days. There were souls I once knew who could listen and talk, especially late at night, but I’m losing them one by one. And that’s just as well. I’m sure they don’t need a friend to haunt them at night with his meandering thoughts or wandering questions. And I should learn better how to get by without leaning so much on others.

Last summer was probably my favorite time of my life so far, so I’ve hopes that this summer will unfold at least as much promise, for travel and new experience.

No burgeoning revelations tonight, my dear. No profound thoughts leaking from a wayfaring heart. Just the quiet and simple thoughts of a loveless groom still waiting on his bride.

Yours,
Beren

April 30, 2014 Posted by | Nights Like These | , , , | Leave a comment

No Wind Is Favorable

Dear Darling,

Here you are, you’ve made it to the end of another weekend. As the world views it, you’ve spent two days at port and it’s time to put out to sea for another five days. I hope you were restful and productive, but more important, I hope you are caught up in something meaningful and worthwhile, sufficient that your week isn’t comprised of equal parts misery and endurance.

If I should be so fortunate as to receive your inquiries about my weekend, I had to work the megachurch again. I told them I would give them two weeks to find a replacement, feeling as I am like I am taking the devil’s paycheck to guard the church of sloven and slop. They exhibited music by Katy Perry, clips by Ellen Degeneres, and are inviting the audience to vote on the next best sermon. (There’s already a suspicious tally of votes cast for a concept so newly-unveiled.) God’s Word isn’t meant to be picked through like a child’s repast; it was meant to be a progressive meal, advancing through both the difficult and the easy parts, lest we conveniently avoid the difficult teachings.

Otherwise, much of it was spent on school projects, with some time spent visiting my family (at last). There are echoes of how things used to be, but bittersweet, because I know now I can’t seek refuge there anymore to flee my troubles. They have troubles enough all their own. It’s not a place of stability to which one can retreat.

We had more surprise snow last night. Most of the city is ready for spring, but of course it made me happy. I like the ground reflecting starlight, and the clouds reflecting the lights of the city. I like houses framed in frost, hooded in white with golden light wreathing the windows from within. Snow seems to be God freshening the canvas for us, if only for a little while. There’s something magical in it. Now they say warmth is coming. Nothing lasts forever.

I decided to visit the book shop tonight to see what specials could be had, or what treasuries of poetry could be found. I can never enter that shop but that I exit with several volumes. The problem was solved because they were closed upon arrival. And who should I spy discovering this fact at the same time but Loswen, her unmistakable silhouette visible in her unmistakable car. We’d never be lovers, Loswen and I. But I text her to editorialize the irony of mutual disappointment, and then later send her a message to tell her I can see she is having mild identity issues and to encourage her. Because of course, I can perceive the things in people that others don’t. (And when I say don’t, I mean won’t. Because after all, once you know about the problem, you can’t ignore it or not be accountable for not being part of the solution.) She was surprised, and then solicited specific prayer on the matter. Sometimes it’s like having emotional x-ray vision.

This apartment is quite nice, as is the price and arrangement. But compared to Alegfast, the extra pricing and distance made it worthwhile. This man, whom I shall call Araquilde, is deathly silent, introverted and unsociable. Moreover, his daughters came to visit — silly, giggling girls still amused by their own adolescence — and left personal hygiene refuse in my washroom.

I did something very silly on Valentine’s Day, my dear. I have a large black book bag that I carry with me nearly always. It contains weeks of papers, post-its, pencils and pens, as well as markers, highlighters, mints, lights, food bars, cords, a knife, pepper spray, a stethoscope and much more. I put it in the back seat instead of the passenger seat. You know, in case I met you. Such foolish things we do when we’re alone and lonely; such foolish hopes we cling to.

I read this quote recently: “It makes me sick, the way sadness is addicting. The way I can’t stop. Sadness is familiar. It’s comfortable and it’s easy in a sense that it comes naturally to me. But everything else about it is hard. The way my body aches with self-hatred. The way my mind spins and spins with hopeless thoughts. The way it poisons everything I do, every relationship I have. Yet it’s addicting, because I know sadness, and I know it very well. And there’s a sort of comfort in that, like being home after a trip or sleeping in your own bed after being away. There’s just a sense that this is where I belong. This is how it’s supposed to be.” (Marianna Paige)

I know I’ve wondered this before my dear, but maybe all these letters are in vain. We do have to allow for the possibility, don’t we? Maybe there is no high and lofty calling. I’m approaching my thirtieth trip around the sun. I’m too old to find young love, but too young to settle for old love. You know this; I’m older than my years. 

Maybe there is no reward for virtue. Maybe if we actually find each other, our existence would be its own poetry, without all these frills and flames and rose petals — a fair lot of nonsense fueled by fantasy and flowery-tongued poets. As I look back over the last couple of years, there’s so much I’ve done and so many things I’d do differently. I’m sorry I’m not ready in time, Darling. I’m sorry I haven’t found you and swept you off your feet. I thought business and law were my calling, that there was goodness and purpose to be found. I thought that being right, that behaving and living by God’s principles would pay off. I thought being tall and caring and intelligent and listening would be enough. I didn’t expect to miss you this much, and I didn’t think it would take this long to find you. My strength isn’t fading, my dear. I can and probably will keep holding on simply because I’m stubborn that way. But as the church emphasizes grace over obedience, repentance over loyalty, and as even the Savior himself promises the worker hired to work through the heat of the day will receive the same wages as the roustabout who comes on board for an hour’s labors, I increasingly question the purpose of clinging so carefully to hypertraditionalism.

Sometimes I’d like to break this silver armor of mine. I already wrap it round to conceal it, because people hate its shine, just as a woman may dislike another for being attractive.  Sometimes in days of uncertainty, we look for surety in the strangest ways. If insecure, we seek control if even through throwing away the things that made us secure. Sometimes I’d like to be more at ease with life and its vices; drink too much and become both the triumph and pity of the culture. “See Beren, laid as low as we! He drinks to forget. He’s no better than any other, he’s just like us.” With derision they’d say I’d fallen, and yet, it would relieve them of the uncomfortable knowledge that someone could both preach and uphold such a standard.

But I don’t. I won’t. I know now there’s little reward here on earth for those who wrestle with their attempts to be good. Women don’t find it appealing, men find it annoying and neither wants to afford the sacrifices it demands. The world doesn’t love it, the church finds no incentive to reward it, and even the Almighty seems not to reward good behavior like we were taught.

Don’t be discouraged by these thoughts, Darling. On nights like these, as we each trim our sails and prepare for another excursion across choppy seas, the darkness presses close, wringing only the saddest of thoughts onto the page.

Goodnight, my dear. I love you.
Beren

February 17, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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