Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

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.


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

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

Sundry Thoughts for September, Pt. 2

Dear Darling,

Man always wishes to fling off the chains of rule and routine which he finds cumbersome. He never finds it fulfilling.

In the beginning, breaking the bonds of circadian rhythm seemed empowering, to work by night and sleep by day. People shake their heads or comment on how much I’ve worked. But it’s taking a bit of a toll. Here I am again, sleepless at four in the morning, recovering from yet another bout of a cold, unable to sleep, but pondering if I have anything good to say to you, other than more confiding of my innermost thoughts, insecurities and questions. It seems I’ve done a lot of that the last couple of years, and the last thing I want is to leave nothing more than a trail of tears to revisit in our bliss — although perhaps the memory of tears will solidify the lens of happiness through which we peer.

Loneliness makes a poor and distorted looking glass of its own, especially when looking into something as unknown as the future. But I smile to think you’ll be included in it. I’m sure I’ll have some nights I can’t sleep where the screen’s glow and quiet keystrokes will roust you out — if I was so inconsiderate as to remain in bed while you slept.

The sheets are freshly washed, and the room is fairly clean. The laundry is done, the groceries bought, the dishes washed, the kitchen tidied. The air outside smells fresh, and of course it’s finally getting cooler again. I ought to find ways to be happy in all this, but it can be hard. There’s a constant undergirding of stress these days, pressures of school and work. And then when I crawl into this big clean bed and think about what it would be like to have you lying next to me to talk to, to fall asleep with, someone with whom to awaken and face the day together…everything will change once we’re married. There isn’t a single cloud on the horizon that isn’t brightened just a little for having someone with whom to face them.

There’s just something about autumn air. I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s nothing like it. It lures and soothes, but it stirs up too. There’s something fleeting and missing about it…something unfinished. Maybe that’s what it is: desire. There’s desire on the wind, and that’s why it leaves you both empty and full.

It’d be nice to have someone that I actually need, and want. I sure want to feel something. I want to feel, and fall and cry. I want to be brokenhearted and elated and passionate. Oftentimes, I’m just too doggone even-keeled and mature, too unflappable. One true observation the Lady Kirche made about me was that I’m comfortable with the epic and uncomfortable with the mundane. I suppose that’s true.

I want to find someone I can be sure about, someone to pursue with reckless abandon, with certainty they’re absolutely what I want. Truthfully, even someone who is worth the pursuit, but unconvinced that I’m worthwhile. Or, as I told a friend earlier, there aren’t many people who have saved up for a tall drink of water with a cache of love letters who gave up a law scholarship and a lucrative job in PR to scoop poop and be an RN. But oh Darling, if I really knew someone was meant for me, if I really felt I couldn’t live without them and I set my sights on them, what a pursuit I could contrive.

I’ve learned that there is nothing quite as potent as someone who understands you and makes you feel good about who you are. I’ve also learned that finding someone like that — especially when you’re complex hard to understand or perhaps even like — is pretty difficult. And here’s the kicker; I’ve learned I’m less that guy that makes a woman feel okay the way she is. Mind, it’s often because I’m not okay with things she’s done or grown to accept, but still, it’s something I need to work on.

I’ll get there, Darling. We’ll both get there. Someday.


September 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sleepless Sundry Thoughts

23. Unknown Artist - Lovers Under The Desert Sky, 1920'sMy Dearest,

Congratulations. Even separated by time and chance, you are keeping me up nights. I suppose the fact I slept in altogether too late has some small fault in the matter; my sleep schedule is a little messed up anyway, alternating between night and day labors. Did you know, in addressing you about them the other night, I hesitated to refer to them as shifts? I thought the word might seem too menial to you, to term my work as too diminutive. I suppose to some, it is. It is quite humble work, I won’t lie. But I know it will lead to better things, and I can take some pride in knowing I turned down some things which the world deems greater in order to pursue something higher. In recognizing my own propensity towards pride, I have often been grateful for the opportunities God has all-too-amply provided to remind me to be humble. In allowing me to be featured in the New York Times and USA Today, He has also granted my day labor consist of the sick and dying.

So! Since sleep eludes, what shall I tell you?

Shall I contemplate how you and I, on some sleepless night after we’re married, both have trouble sleeping, and elect instead to elope like the crazy young lovers we are, finding haven and communion under the stars? Shall I share with you the rapid dissemination of thoughts prompted merely by falling in behind a jogger whose scented perfume lingered? Shall I share with you why I chose the name Beren Estel as the pen name for your bridegroom? Shall I share how you will one day be irreplaceable, or how I realized that to love is to fear? Shall I share with you a list of the preparations about which I’m set about to better ready myself for your arrival, or the travel plans to which I am given?

All of them, you say? A tall order at four in the morning, but I will strive to oblige you.

First; today is the second day I have not worked. Fresh off some travel and much work, you would think I would be gratified for these two days, particularly when it affords the chance to do some writing and interviews, which pay ever so much better than my day jobs. Instead, I was restless and squirrely and bored. So I took my roommate’s dog to the park, the better for us both to get out and enjoy the weather. I happened to cross paths with the wake of a jogger whose perfume made me instantly think not of her but of you. (Unless, of course, that was by some peculiar chance you.)

I thought about how you will meet, fulfill, overpower and satisfy every one of of my senses. I am blessed to yet be in possession of all five; taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell. To touch you…an honor beyond imagining. To see you…for surely in my eyes, if not in the eyes of all who see you, you will be the handsomest and most desirable of all women. To hear you…the joy of hearing your thoughts, your corrections, your affections, your laughter and singing and tears. To smell your perfume, your shampoos and conditioners and whatever other cosmetic products whose use you require. To taste your skin, your lips, the salt of your tears. To these contemplations the mind ventured, and then soared.

Second; why the name of Beren Estel? It is some time now I have been enthralled with the mythological works of Tolkien, and from his earlier works I have lifted the name. Far from the bizarre derivative fantasy worlds of today, Tolkien invented not a story but an entire world, with many volumes of back-history, and several languages based on his study of linguistics. To these volumes I owe as much as any my learning of poetry, writing and of dreaming. Beren means brave, and in falling in love with the elf-maid Luthien Tinúviel, princess of her kind and fairest of all, he fought through fire, water, battle and death to both save her and win her hand. She too strove at his side to help him in his labors, and healed him when his mortality overcame him. Her name means daughter of flowers. Estel simply means hope. And yet, there is a deeper concept imbued in its meaning, one of faith and trust. It is the idea that hope, or faith, “is not defeated by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and first being. If we are indeed the Eruchin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves.”

So you see, my darling, that these names were not idly chosen, to deem you the princess of your people, the daughter of flowers and twilight, the fairest of all, and I assuming the mantle and responsibilities of the brave and faithful, who will fight as long as God gives breath in my lungs and you by my side.

Thirdly; Do you know what that means to be irreplaceable? We are likely both irreplaceable in some aspects of our lives, or at least to our families and friends. Were we to depart this world, there would be some aspects of our existence which could not wholly be healed or replaced. Yet when you become mine, and I yours, do you appreciate the significance of the fact that you will be utterly irreplaceable to me? Do you understand that this means no one else can ever, ever do what you do, or be what you be? One day, beyond the wildest of my dreams, you will tell me you love me. If that can be believed, then it must surely flatter and please you to inhabit the one form and existence without which I cannot live. The sum total of earthly desire and mortal longing, wrapped in skin and cloth and loveliness, surnamed Luthien, and one day bearing my last name. None other in the country, the world, the galaxy, the universe, has been created to be mine, or will be capable of bestowing or receiving the loving graces of my heart, to be needed and loved for no other reason than that I need you and love you. Though I yet know little of love, I know that it asks no permission of the heart, nor requires excuse or justification. I know that it is simply because it is.

Surely my love is a trifle and a pittance when weighed on this scale.

Fourthly, and in supplement to the previous; Surely to love is to fear! To love is to allow a portion of your essence and fulfillment to dwell outside of you. Life is no longer all or nothing; part of your heart resides with another, one who thinks, acts and chooses differently than you. The power to make them heal is also the power that can make them hurt you. To unite is to divide; to partake in the oneness of your soul with another, your world is split and a part of you is now in their keeping. Part of you can now be killed while you yet survive. I anticipate the mutual instruction of this fear!

Fifthly, owing almost exclusively to the providence of our good and gracious Lord, I have found several ways to travel quite cheaply to several nice locations. To Florida I return within days, and upon returning, I intend car trips both to the north and the south, as well as one more potential journey far to the west. A colleague recently shared with me the cheaper expense of travel by rail (wouldn’t that be fun?) and I recently uncovered opportunities both to Costa Rica and Hawaii for cheaper than most would make them out. Yet why should I go to Hawaii or Costa Rica? I have already discovered travel means less without you, and only makes me long for the days when you will join me.

And finally love, you will have to wait to hear my thoughts on the preparations for your arrival, but one more vision will I share with you before trying to sleep. My mind’s eye saw you again as I sat propped up in bed with a book in my lap. I saw you enter the room and regard my reading with some pleasure, while I regarded you and your entry with even greater pleasure. Your wordless approach, your wry and inviting smile as you wordlessly draw me in for a kiss, and more, reinforced my incredulity that you actually want to be closer to me. Far be it from me to deny the desires of my heart’s other half, but forgive me if I turn over the thought in my mind!

Here imagination must draw the curtain…but not forever. No indeed, not forever.

Love always,

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Nights Like These, Sundry Thoughts | , , | Leave a comment


The Fire Within

“A cardiac vortex of endless desire
Unquenchably craving as oft lovers do
A gnawing, imploring, unquenchable fire
Would virgin heart scold that I burn for you?

Tormented ignition of premature thirsting
Greater than voices of warning construe
Falling and soaring, converging and bursting
Oh bride of my future, I burn for you!

Lofty the promises, churlish and fleeting
Spoken so rashly from imprudent youth
For flesh and flesh only, in wickedness cheating
They burn for themselves; I only for you

What woman of virtue, fair maiden abiding
With basest of passions in barest of view
Could meet not accepting, rejecting or chiding
This gravest confession, my burning for you?

For long are the hours of fleshly endurance
Ravenous, pleading, voracious, taboo
Through veins flows the fire of turbulent currents
My dear, condemn not that I’m burning for you!

And long is the battle, temptation’s entreatment
Craving, despising its wanton pursuit
Unslaked and unsated, demanding beseechment
Allayed with conviction, I burn just for you.

Yet, fettered and shackled, with mastery claiming
Twice-bound and thrice-locked and enshrouded from view
Sanity grasped through true Master’s naming
Barely abated, my burning for you

Compliance unyielding, remorseless, nor shamed
In innocent pining, chaste, virtuous, true
By future enthralled, by enchantment inflamed
In boldness and pureness I’m burning for you.

Dear, when nuptial longing meets nuptial blisses
When lock is laid bare and the key has turned
Remember my darling, commencing with kisses
That long for this day, through the ages, I’ve burned!”

(Yes Darling…I wrote it.)

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Poems, Purity | , , , , , | 1 Comment


06. Unknown Artist - Lovers' Swing

“No joy for which thy hungering heart has panted,
No hope it cherishes through waiting years,
But if thou dost deserve it, shall be granted —
For with each passionate wish the blessing nears.

Tune up the fine, strong instrument of thy being
To chord with thy dear hope, and do not tire.
When both in key and rhythm are agreeing,
Lo! thou shalt kiss the lips of thy desire.

The thing thou cravest so waits in the distance,
Wrapt in the silences, unseen and dumb:
Essential to thy soul and thy existence —
Live worthy of it – call, and it shall come.”

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox

May 21, 2013 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment