Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

One Passion Grand and Vast

A Man’s Last Love
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Like the tenth wave, that offers to the shore
Accumulated opulence and force,
So does my heart, which thought it loved of yore,
Carry increasing passion down the course
Of time to proffer thee.
Oh! not the faint
First ripple of the sea should be its pride,
But the great climax of its unrestraint,
Which culminates in one commanding tide.

The lesser billows of each crude emotion
Break on life’s strand, recede, and then unite
With love’s large sea; and to some late devotion
Unrecognised, they bring their lost delight.
So all the vanished fancies of my past
Live yet in this one passion, grand and vast.

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June 24, 2014 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Love?

Dear Darling,

Do you find it unthinkable that anyone who writes letters of love to an unknown bride for a half-decade still question its definition? On its face, the question seems rudimentary.

But if we look beneath the face of love, the question is anything but. Our native tongue is woefully inadequate to define love; you cannot love cake with equal avidity as you love your job, or summer, or friends, or parties, or your mother, or your spouse, or your country.

To Scripture we must first turn, to find that God created love and God is love. When we love, we are like God, but only because love makes us like Him, not because we have approached Him or belong to Him. All lovers may for a time become better for having loved, more godly and virtuous in their behavior, more charitable and patient in their demeanor. The blessing of love is not confined to those who belong to God; He is generous enough to bestow its blessings even to the unrepentant. Because God is love, and loving makes us like Him, sometimes people mistake the two for each other. God is love; but love is not God.

1 Corinthians 13 famously expounds on its virtues by telling us that love is patient and kind, without envy, boasting or pride. It doesn’t dishonor others, nor is it self-seeking or easily angered, nor keeping records of wrongs. It rejoices in truth, not evil. It always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres.

All of these describe love, as we ought to aspire. But do they define it? The same may be shown to a sister as much as a wife. Nor can a list of mere descriptors fully define love, any more than the words “swift” or “beautiful” define a horse.

What does the world say?

The scientist says love is in our chemistry, neurons firing in the brain.

The teacher says love is in our actions.

The preacher says love is a commitment and service to others.

The mother says love is in the heart.

The philosopher says it is a force of nature, irresistible and untamed.

The hedonist says love is God, obeyed heedless of cost. The lover says it is a feeling; you have to go there to know there. The cynic says it is an illusion; the sensualist that it is sex.

This also is true, that some loves we choose and some loves choose us. After all Darling, you could not guarantee you would seek out and love every member of your blood kin had you not been born into their family. Families love each other, even when they don’t like each other. And some loves endure long after reason says they should.

The Greeks find greater variety of descriptors for love; in their tongue, there is ludus, the playful and unripe love among children. Then there is agape, the unconditional love and charity we show towards the world and its natives, a selfless Christian loving-kindness and altruism. There is philia, a deep affection, friendship and connection between comrades, which may be only friends or may be romantic partners. Of course there is eros, which may be the primal and passionate fire which presses towards any physical consummation, and the sense of being romantically in love with one in particular. There is storge, the natural love between family. Finally, there is pragma, the abiding devotion brought about through mutual understanding and longevity.

Why should such a question arise after so long? My Darling, I ask because I wonder how I’ll know that I love you. Such revelations take time, but may dawn suddenly or gradually. Some say there came a specific moment at which they suddenly decided, or realized that they loved. Others say it was a gradual process. Love (philia), I think, cannot come suddenly and spontaneously, not for me. I’ve inoculated myself against such uncontrolled sentiment. Reason has built walls and buffers to ward off such insensible emotionalism. (Though make no mistake, much of me still devoutly longs for surrender to such passions.)

It worries me, you see, because some say that love is putting someone else’s needs before your own (agape), and I think I would not be overly generous to myself if I say I tend toward this already. It’s hard not to be charitable of deeds when your life’s work is with the sick. Nor do I say this to congratulate myself; half the time I hate it. I hate feeling responsible for others, I hate feeling their pain and mistakes. I hate that people won’t listen. I hate that I am only human, much less others. I hate that “only human” is the excuse so many conjure in defense of their wanton misdeeds. I hate that I give so often and receive so little. I can’t deny this is just how I was created, one of God’s built-in cushions of the universe to balance out the selfish. I just have to make peace with it. That is, after all, one of life’s greatest blessings: to carry the burdens of others without breaking. To break, and only be kinder for it.

So Darling, how does a Christian discern between agape, eros and philia? How much play do we allow Venus and Cupid? What happens when you decide to spend time with someone, and resolve to model the behavior you hope is characteristic of yourself as a husband (why else would you date?) and you can’t tell between the deed and the feeling? It’s second-nature to me. More than getting doors or paying for meals, it’s an ongoing “how was your day” or “tell me your troubles.” It’s reading someone’s face to see what hidden meaning lurks behind polite formality. It’s being willing to get up at 5am if necessary to take you to the airport. It’s coming over and nursing you back to health if you’ve taken deathly ill. It’s sacrificing sleep to come help you change a tire. Within reason, it’s basically being available 24/7, and dearly hoping the same is offered in return.

Now don’t mistake me, Darling. I can be a selfish pain in the neck as well as anyone. That’s what will make our love last, a resolution to put behind us the parts which make us intolerable towards one another. But my inclination is towards serving as I describe above. You see how that already looks like love? Add to that a physical chemistry, which can present its own quandary by posing the question “do I like you for you, or do I just like having anyone to be with for a change?”

When do you choose to love someone, and when do you “fall” in love? How much is controlled and how much is loss of control? When do you possess love, and when does love possess you? To one who places high value on maintaining control of one’s senses and faculties, it takes a great deal of trust to be willing to let go. When do you love someone for what they do for you — for their mind? Do you need someone because you love them, or do you love someone because you need them?

You might say I’m an overthinker. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of such. But asking too many questions? Nonsense, my dear. The secrets of life are reserved for the one who never ceases to ask questions.

Here is what I know. Love is priceless. It cannot be bought.

Love is a flame that cools us, and an ice which thaws.

Love is the sixth sense that makes no sense.

Love is needing someone, as well as wanting them.

Love is more than a feeling, but it isn’t just all the bolstering spiritual intangibles. There’s head spinning, heart racing and blood pumping, and it’s here that I need the most work.

Love is a Verb. It isn’t what you think and feel and say. It’s what you do that defines you to another.

Love is a Command. God said to love one another, no options, no exclusions. That means even when you don’t feel like loving someone, you love them anyway. Love is a Commitment.

Love is a decision. It’s an act of will and sometimes runs counter to all our instincts.

Love never looks the way you wanted or expected. It will change us and shape us and transform us. In time, it will define us. Love is a force and a power, and like any power, it must be controlled. We must change and shape and transform it ourselves. We channel it.

Love is unconditional.

Love is a multiplicitous, jumbled, wonderful mess, one in which I can’t wait for us to become entangled.

I will meet you there. Someday. Somehow.

 

I remain ever yours sincerely,
Beren

May 26, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Questions | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Rain Will Make The Flowers Grow

Dear Darling,

I’m afraid it’s another one of those drained nights where I’m not in much shape to do much good for anyone.

It should be a day for celebrating…it is. It’s only that sometimes, especially when weary and sleep-deprived, I find it hard not to let petty things like jealousy take over. People graduated today, people are getting jobs, engagements, pregnancies. (I’m grateful that the one young lady in particular who expressed a steady but not overdone interest finally found her mate elsewhere, as she has announced her pending nuptials, and thoroughly happy for her and the invisible stress her unrequited attraction placed on our friendship.)

I’m still fighting that feeling that everyone else is ahead of me, and better off. I expect that makes me rather weak in your eyes, and perhaps that’s well-deserved. There’s a lot of pressure on men though, my dear. (“Pressure on men…!” you must justifiably snort in disbelief.) But there are expectations that force a constant inner dialog on whether or not they’re being met. And on nights like tonight, the tired frailties and insecurities, all the sore and tender places that bear hiding, are stretched thin and come out all too easily.  Not having the best grades, the best intellect, the best memory or appearance or voice, not having the best body, best handwriting or the best car, or even career. I chose not to pursue law for a host of reasons, but for friends who went on to get their law degree, I see prestige and success for them where for myself I saw none. The tiniest fraction of my mind will always wonder if that was the right decision.

I see people winning awards and acknowledgements for their academic prowess, and the pall is cast over my own. (They aren’t hard to overshadow.)

I worked tirelessly for years in the one wing of the political industry, yet it’s others who came along and reaped the results, or the adulation. Of course, these doors are all doors I closed for myself (or if you like, was led to close) but they still leave me wondering. I could have been in on campaigns, could be working PR right now, could be practicing law right now. Instead, I was led down a lesser-known road. I have to trust in that leading, but sometimes I don’t find those decisions to have been validated. While others stay their course, and receive awards and accolades, I never wound up standing in the light when it was time to be recognized and applauded. (I can think of one speech locally where I presented, and the fellow who spoke after me made certain the crowd knew I had worked hard, and should be applauded. This is the same speech I gave directly after a man who is now a leading contender for President.)

What do trophies and awards matter anyway? Aren’t they just the perishable tokens of human recognition? The appreciation of heaven is all I should need. The relieved looks and grateful expressions from the sick ought to be enough to fill my cup. The privileges of working behind closed doors to improve the lot of those who suffer and ache, to make them laugh and rest more comfortable…isn’t it enough to be an unsung hero? Yet, how else does one assure one’s self of heaven’s favor? Is work, even work among the ailing, the same as working for the Lord? Didn’t Jesus bless Mary for learning at His feet rather than Martha for her tireless and frenzied preparations?

I want to be the best for you. And when foolish character flaws such as these arise, I realize it must be my fault, not to have drawn closer to Christ, the better to have these infirmities of the soul expunged. The only expectations that matter should be the Lord’s…and of course to a lesser extent, yours. Ah, but if only there were eyes as pretty as yours to look up at me with inexpressible gratitude. If only I knew I was making a difference, or could feel the warmth of my heavenly Father’s pride and favor just a little more.

Well, these dark musings are only the byproduct of another 34-hour marathon, minus the three-hour nap. (What? Oh now, don’t give me that look. Now that studying is through, it was time to jump back in to the swing of things!)

And driving home from a graduation celebration, the lightning lit up the sky and the rain began to fall. So of course, I rolled back the moon roof. And, I went for a walk in it when I came home, apologizing to the Lord for these petty insecurities. They’re not pretty to look at, are they? And yet, I’ll wager that every other man on earth has them too. And which would you rather have, a man who holds back and hides himself from you, or a man who owns his weaknesses?

I really don’t want to miss you tonight, Darling. Anymore, I don’t even want to remember that you might exist. It hurts too much.

I guess I’ll always have a little darkness in my soul.

Yours,
Beren

May 10, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These, Questions, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Something New

Dear Darling,

After three years, life in its course begins to reveal certain patterns. I read back through these letters and realize I’ve told you the same thing different times, and each time as if it were new. Sometimes I fear the slightest vestiges of senility are lurking behind these incidents, but sometimes the churning agitations of my brain recapitulate old thoughts in new skins and I forget that I’ve thought them before. I’ve never made any sensational claims about my memory, and the nature of my work is such to work with quasi-strangers and throngs of crowds, with the end result of dulling my mind to new faces and names.

Among these repeated thoughts tonight is an apparent binge lifestyle with work and school. Last weekend was a move. This week, there have been projects due every single day. I’m writing another two articles, one of which the editor imposed upon me a tight deadline after weeks of my suggesting we cover this topic.

In short, I have been busy all week, up until about three hours ago. Poised on the precipice of a blank in my schedule, mere minutes after the week’s obligations rounded out, I immediately wanted something to do. On nights like these I get restless. Alegfast suggested it was one’s latent urge to have nearly as much enjoyment as one has had work. (We’ve much to catch up on if I’m to set those two at equals!)

I suppose I find myself wanting something new. Which should technically be branded as some outlying mode of insanity, given that my head is inundated with new information every day, information I’m expected to retain and master. But I do. On rare occasions, I do things simply for their novelty, simply because they break the molds. And other times, I wish someone would feel the urge to step into my life and make it better, the same urge I feel for others.

So what do I do? Browse a few headlines and video titles, try to clear out some of the multitasked browswer windows I maintain at all times. I converse with Alegfast for a bit. He and Gladhbrui want to go southward again this summer, but I fear their constant oversharing, discussion of private subjects and their undiluted, incessantly nonromantic intimacy will prove the unmaking of any relaxation I may find.

Visiting an ice cream shop appeals, but the hour is late and they don’t sell abs next to the double fudge brownie triple-scoop.

I started a new job too. You should have been there. It required getting up long before the sun, but you’ve done that enough to know it has its own unique and worthy advantages. It was a chance to renew my love for this land and its roots. This is horse country and these are horse people. They all know each other, but I’m new so they’re a little closed off. They’ll give me time, and until then they’re not unkind. My colleague is not terribly older than I, open and honest, not yet particularly jaded or crusty like most emergency responders. The outrider with whom we’re talking has a voice like Jack Webb, sitting tall atop his horse and dragging on a cigarette. He’s constantly but good-naturedly berating every rider and worker he sees. The horses and their riders race by. One in particular pounds past at full racing speed with leather cinched, muscles tensed and mane flying. I breathe in a silent thrill; there was something familiar and vicariously stimulating about a horse and rider moving in synchrony.

Only a few short weeks remain in this term. If I’m honest, last summer was the best I ever had. This summer could hold just as much potential. Imagine this relentless pace, but lived at my own discretion for work and travel.

It’s all coming together, Darling. It’s almost like the saying of Scripture, “do whatever your hand finds to do for the Lord is with you.” I lack only you. Sometimes in these turbid and tumultuous weeks, there are fractions of a day I even lack the time to think about or desire you. I feel like every day I’m becoming more the man God wants me to be, the man you’ll want me to be. But these are also the days of growth, days we should grow together, and we’re missing those.

Well, cheer up Luthien. Spring is breaking and summer is not far behind. The future comes at us sixty seconds per minute, and of all the seconds amassed behind and before us, there is yet to come the first to share together.

Until then, never forget, I love you with all my heart.

Yours,
Beren

April 3, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work Without Hope

Work without Hope
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrighten’d, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good Days and Loud Thoughts

man-and-the-moonlightDear Darling,

I’m back on the homestead tonight, managing by myself. It’s a full moon, and probably the first one in months whose light I can walk in, quietly and undisturbed. But like a head that keeps spinning after the ride has stopped, a swirling mist of thoughts still impede the calm I’m seeking. It would take a World Detox to restore the full potency of the moon’s calming effect.

It’s not that I lack peace, or am deeply troubled by these thoughts. It’s only that the ringing of ears and whooshing of thoughts doesn’t slow just because my pace has. And anyway, the pace the last few days has still been crazy.

I fear my prayers are falling into something of a cycle any more. I’m rising before the sun five days a week now, and often eating the morning meal while preparing the afternoon meal. Thus, the Word falls by the wayside, and while I’m making up for it by listening to its preaching, I know I need to be more diligent about carving off my own slices when I can. I’m mostly praying for friends, family and my own horizons. (And, of course, you.) But the slain saints in Iraq? The oppressed in Russia? The grieving in Nigeria, the laboring in Haiti, the political struggles and ever-diminishing freedoms of my own people? The patients I see at the hospital? Not often enough.

Here we find two conundrums of the Christian’s walk. The first, forgetfulness of neglect or forgetfulness of repetition. The Lord repeatedly admonished His people on ways to remember, because we humans are prone to forget. He carved these traditions deep into the minds of His people, lest we forget. But then, how many times have we said a token prayer before a meal because it’s ingrained in our mind to pray and we sent not the slightest emotion of true gratitude heavenward?

The second, the balance of living in the world while not being of it. You want to find some degree of comfort and rhythm to this life, but not finding a place in the world so much that it finds a place in you.

That’s where I am right now. I’ve had several good days recently. The weather has changed, and kept on changing, bringing with it the sunshine’s thaw and then winter’s freeze, sometimes under the same sunrise. I just don’t want to drift afoul of God’s will.

So these thoughts continue to swirl along as I walk. The robins in the pine trees protest my presence, and I’m pretty sure that’s a rabbit I hear bounding away in fright. Maybe my thoughts are too loud for them. And unless I’m mistaken, that’s the first spider-web of the season caught on my forehead.

I like a good quiet walk…but I like a mad pace too. Yesterday I wrapped a class, ran some errands and then returned to swim a personal best distance of six and a half furlongs, on top of a mile run. This morning I ran a race with a classmate and his brother-in-law, and we unexpectedly took second ranking in the whole city.

I previewed the miracle of birth this past week, my dear. Three tiny lives newly-begun in the world. I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s such a privilege to be at the forefront of such pivotal moments in life, spending time with the laboring mothers or the nursery with the infants. Once again, it will put me ahead of the curve for when our time comes.

Looks like I’m moving this weekend. Although I do believe the Lord opened up the opportunity at the time, I came home the other night and am fairly certain my roommate had engaged the services of a hired woman to share his bed. He isn’t the sort I estimated conducting such business at all, and my judgment may be far askance. However vague the nature of the transaction, the process was abundantly obvious. I believe I even heard the muffled exclamations. Such things were thoroughly lacking throughout my upbringing. So, yes. Time to move on. It tends to keep one imbalanced when “home” changes so much, you know.

Also, I hope you’re not particularly attached to television. Mind you, the point is inconsequential. I simply find that if I sit down to watch it, the hours while away in idleness and I’m ill-at-ease when I rise and see how much time is wasted with nothing done.

Ah, but these have been some good days of late. I’m laying by some promising plans for the summer, and it’s only another handful of weeks before that begins.

I hope your mind is bathed in serenity and your hair bathed in moonlight tonight. Rest well, love. Pleasant dreams.

-Beren

March 16, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Just Another Day

Dear Darling,

I’m sorry. I know today must have been at least a little unkind to you, if for no other reason than because you were alone. With valiant shades of pink, red and purple, with confectionery treats and horticultural blessings abounding and a dance floor full of fools, floozies and lovers and a tune you love, it’s hard to bid your feet be still. Truly, I wish I could have been there for you, to rescue from it. It may not have been a night to be carried away on a violet cloud of emotion and sentiment, but it could have been a day to spend together, or a chance to grow fonder. Instead, we spent it apart.

I’m so sorry.

I dearly hope you made at least some use of it. I? Well, I spent much of its darker hours in the Houses of Healing, and some of it at rest afterward. Actually, it was another overambitious play for study and work, beginning with a live simulation in the morning, a hasty lunch, a work-related training module and then sixteen hours across two different floors. This was followed by a swift breakfast and two hours of lecture for which I could scarcely stay awake.

By the time I wearily rolled to a stop, it had been a straight twenty-eight hours without rest, most of which were spent either with schooling or working. It was the kind of long day and night where you wish and hope someone will be waiting for you, to feed you and praise you and put you to bed. Someone who will show appreciation and pride and gratitude for your hard work, taking pride in a husband so fine as to give so deeply of himself daily. Not too long ago, a friend exclaimed “night shift is hard!” This is a truth with which I am intimately acquainted, but hearing it validated for the first time was gratifying. Before then, it was borne as truth that is silent and unacknowledged.

It’s a different world there Darling. Truly — a different world. Here death and his enemies dwell together, fighting a unique and often unseen war, behind the curtains where society shouldn’t look, and often family members dare not.

There is a brink and a chasm between life and death and standing in that gap are the healers charged with keeping as many souls on this side as they can. We see how fragile life can be…and how tenacious. Sometimes it comes down to the balance of a hair…a balance whose weight rests heavily on all of our shoulders.

There is no makeup, no hiding, no masks. Modesty, propriety, our public game faces, all are left at the threshold. Errors paid for in blood and death.  Wounds seep, tears are shed and cries of pain echo. Their worst day is our everyday. We exist to lend grace and dignity in their most undignified moments, making the best of a bad situation. We are professionally and habitually unselfish. We put ourselves dead-last twelve and fourteen hours a day. We routinely, habitually and completely empty ourselves every shift. We surrender sleep, sanity and self to make our patients feel better. Our every day is the occasion to which others would have to rise.

I’d like you to be able to take pride in what your future husband does, my dear. That’s why I tell you this. No one wants to feed one’s own ego with self-placating praise, but we all need to hear that what we do is important, that we’re making a difference and our time isn’t wasted. When no one else (outside of the Houses themselves) understand this, one may resort to assuring himself of that fact. Healing is never “just a job.”

It is of course difficult to inflate one’s opinion of self-worth when one’s tasks frequently include the most menial of assignments, lowly of patients and basest of filth. And yet, it is difficult to diminish one’s worth when its direct results are seen in relief, gratitude and improvement in the condition of human suffering. In short, it’s meek work, but it always makes a difference, and if no one else tells us that, we have to tell ourselves.

I’d like you to be nurturing enough to know I am spent or weighted down and feel it incumbent on yourself to respond, whether by feeding me and then laying my head in your lap and asking what’s the matter, or by lovingly ordering me to the destination for which I was already bound.

We all need to be held. There is no substitute for arms full of compassion and willing to hold you for as long as you need it. Or so I’m told. I’ve never been looked-after in such a way. I hope I can look forward to it. I certainly know you can, and God willing by the skilled and well-taught hands of someone who knows.

It snowed again tonight. I spent some time with Loswen, Alegfast and their friends, before accepting the invitation which dispelled the last six weeks of silence between my family and I. I hope and pray those wounds, though maybe not forgotten, can be recovered from.

I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, my dear. I’m sorry today was just another day. I promise I’ll make it up to you in the days to come.

Fondest thoughts from far away.

Love,
Beren

February 15, 2014 Posted by | About Me, Holidays, Loneliness | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Respite

Dear Darling,

It’s been quite a varied and interesting couple of days. Friday began with an examination for which I in no way felt prepared. (My pursuit, you see, is largely and capably designed to trick its pupils into answering incorrectly.) Instead, the final result was triumph in the highest degree.

The day then progressed to an hour-long session of testimonials for the medical field, which I found fairly unusual since everyone present was already within the field. But they provided lunch, and who am I to quarrel with a free meal? I was particularly grateful for the woman who put the Lord at the forefront of her short delivery, placing him as the guide in her life.

Then I went to work and asked if they needed help. They initially said no, but I knew one of the floors well enough to visit and tell them to call and confirm they did, in fact, need help. They did, and most gratefully accepted my assistance for the remainder of the work shift.

I visited a foreign eatery with some friends afterward, though by the protestations of my stomach, the amounts were insufficient. To my surprise, the Lady Kirche was there. A wound reopened can neutralize any triumph.

Yesterday was quiet. More snow fell, making for a very scenic afternoon overlooking the whitened yard in between buildings. I studied and worked a shift at the megachurch. I was invited out by a few people for dinner and a game night. This makes the third “crew” of young(er) adults willing to invite me along, which of course is kind, but they’re cut from the same cloth. Silly and giggly, with suggestive humor, crude joking and irreverent use of the Lord’s name. (Generally a very strong argument against fellowship — treating my King’s name casually.) They’re certainly not the type of people who understand me. I don’t know how I swam my way into the shoals where schools of fish find me attractive, but among whom no attractive mate seems to emerge. Another volunteer at the church announced her anticipation of Valentine’s Day. She was quizzical about my distaste for the upcoming celebrations until she remembered with whom she spoke, and then paid me the compliment I often hear but seldom internalize — “you’re such a great guy!”

The weekend is supposed to offer respite, but it’s been mostly all work and study. One day I’ll break into a new lifestyle, but for now I couldn’t imagine having the free time I’ll have then. Right now, everything seems up in the air again. I haven’t seen my family since New Years. I’ve only lived at this place for a couple of weeks. I think my roommate was drunk last night but I’m not sure.

And yet. It’s so nice to have an actual winter. The trees are frosted. The taller ones are topped with frozen diadems that sparkle in the sunlight. The smaller trees are bent low with ice as though bowing to them. It’s interesting how the same weather can affect both plants and people so differently, depending on their resilience.

I was surprise to learn a colleague of mine passed away three days ago. We worked on some of the same cases though we never met, and had communicated on several occasions. Her faith led her home, but it was unexpected.

On the subject of caring. I’ve mentioned before my attempts to stay friendly but properly distant from one of the production directors who clearly is attracted. An officer friend of mine told me that by perceiving she was upset and inquiring, I was sending mixed messages. I told him I tried to strike the right balance, but that professionally and personally, I care about people. I don’t know how not to do that, nor how not to be the person I often need others to be. But, that seems my fate, or the fate of anyone who really cares — ever caring, seldom cared for. I hope I’ve never showed improper restraint enough to hurt someone by sending mixed messages.

That particular young lady is also much younger in her mind and her experience than most people her age. Therein lies a much greater problem. It’s not the years, it’s the mileage. For the miles I’ve been through, I often find myself more on the level with someone older than me…something I often said was not a preference. Generally speaking, it seems wives are younger than their husbands, but most anyone who is younger is very young.

 

I’ve begun operating off the presumption that, deep down, “no one cares.” It’s more than a misanthropic platitude; it’s the assumption I find fits most of life’s experience, and a careful reminder not to share or open up with people unnecessarily. It’s also translated into a vast reduction in activity on Facebook. No one cares where you are or why, and the majority of motivations for posting are to perpetuate an image because you think it will improve peoples’ opinions of you. My reflections, my opinions, my activities and my achievements, all are becoming my own rather than for others. It’s a despondent sort of liberation, but a true and necessary one, and ushers in its own variety of peace.

Darling, I hope you are enjoying your snow if you have any, and are enjoying a weekend’s respite. I hope you are praying for me half so fervently as I pray for you.

Yours sincerely,
Beren

February 9, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When You Are Old

When You Are Old11. Baur, J.M. -  A Loving Couple
William Butler Yeats


When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Poems | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meetings and Partings

Dear Darling,

Is it just me, or are older single people sometimes made to feel ashamed, somehow a failure for not being in a relationship? Surely you’ve sighed and wondered what’s wrong with you, not to have met someone that’s felt like the real thing, the torch that finally stays lit? Ah, but maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’ve got a few years on you yet, years that haven’t stretched on for you as much as me. But yeah, sometimes I feel that way. Like I’ve said, I watch these people all file in on Sunday mornings, attractive couples, all bedecked with smiles and fine clothes, younger than me, many of them. And you just start to wonder, what have those people have that I don’t? We can’t look at it like that, but I know the temptation is there.

I’ve lost count of the people there who desire my better acquaintance. Probably a half-dozen. Nice young ladies, of course, but it’s hard to explain exactly what kind of person will fit the bill, or why — through no fault of their own — they don’t. I suppose I don’t entirely know myself.

It’s the unknowing that gets you. Not knowing when, or where, or how. Not even knowing how you feel sometimes. With classes starting, changing apartments, church services changing, the family upheaval, there’s a lot of change on the wind, and sometimes it takes longer to process.

If you asked me right now what I’m feeling, I could honestly say I don’t know. Sometimes like I’m in God’s purpose, but yet there’s still something missing. Feeling behind, ahead and right on schedule. Like everything is up in the air and changing, and yet, I want something new. Like I’m living the most amazing, blessed and enviable life, and yet, an unfortunate one at the same time.

That’s part of the reason why I won’t always tell you what I need. Not always, anyway, not unless you ask. Sometimes I just won’t know. It’s not fair to you, and I don’t intend to leave you guessing. But unless with you, I’m not usually the sort to sigh and say “you know what, I think I just need a hug.” It may be true more often than not, but I don’t ask. I don’t feel entitled to put myself first.

Alegfast asked tonight if I’d like to join them in the hot tub. It’s a small tub, and barely room enough for him and his friend — the woman he spends all his time with but won’t date. I think he knew I would decline. Why wouldn’t I? I don’t fault them, or anyone at all, for hot tubs or massages as some of them do. But I don’t think that way. I don’t think of ways to treat myself, or to relax myself. I don’t live for myself, not normally. I live for others. That’s why I feel stale when I’m not working, even after working long hours. I think that’s also why I write, even when I have little to say. If I’m not serving a purpose, I don’t feel worth much. I don’t think it’s always a good thing.

On the subject of being purposeless, I’m still having internal conflicts with the family. I’m standing up for what I know is right, and it’s not setting well at all. I sought counsel on the matter, and among other things, was asked what my father and mother, but especially my mother, have to live for if not their children. What would they do when they all left? The question nearly stunned me. My mother has spent every ounce of her energy fostering family, education and household. I’m not sure that she has much after that. I’m actually disturbed to realize my parents may have spent so much time orbiting around their children that they forgot how to be a husband and wife, or that they could find new identity as “just” a couple. At least until the grandchildren come along. (That’s up to us you know, at least for now.) I’m told strife is still rampant and the discord runs deep. (Pray.)

I have been of a fairly strong conviction that a wife’s optimal role was that of Proverbs 31, to manage a household. I have never been of the persuasion that “a woman’s place is in the home” or that women cannot work. Rather, I have held the conviction that children are not to be birthed only to be bequeathed first to childcare and then to the state to educate and safeguard. These roles are given by God to us as parents, and that a mother and wife is most often best suited to care and manage and instruct, supporting her husband as he supports her, while the father is to bear the curse pronounced in Genesis 3, by the sweat of the brow will we earn our daily bread.

This concept, that of robbing a mother of purpose or identity outside of her children, suddenly became clear to me when I saw my mother — and how she might see herself — and all of her labors imperiled if she thought her children had not become as she believed they ought. Maybe my parents haven’t been diligent to pursue an identity and a life of their own beyond the household, but it was the first time a compelling argument has entered my mind against mothers primarily as caregivers.

We shall have to discuss that one more in person.

There are some houses about which still have their Christmas lights up. I’m always grateful for these people. The world needs the cheer of Christmas kept burning into the cold January nights.

Some friends and I played some games into the night, and it turned into men versus women. In a bid to distract the men (and in vengeance for the lads’ own ploy) the women began discussing hygiene, cycles and cramps. It resulted in a victory for the women, and turnabout was fair play for the men that started it. But I rather think, at least in public settings, some things are best left unsaid, don’t you?

Ah my dear, I’m sorry again that I’m not there for you. Life is long and love is hard, and I know your hardships are harder to bear in my absence. Missing me is just another part of loving me. My prolonged absence is what will make the payoff all worthwhile. Every day I’m not with you whets our appetites for our union and lives together.

And one day, it will happen. One fine day you’re going to turn around and out of the blue, I’ll be there. Unexpected but right on schedule. Someday not too distant, I’ll take you by surprise, and, if I can, I’ll leave you speechless with a very forward but casual invitation to see you again. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll have a race between the butterflies in your stomach and the ones in mine.

God bless and keep you my darling, and may he guard you in his care until such time as he delegates the task to your one and only Beren.

Love,
Me

January 13, 2014 Posted by | Anticipation, Loneliness | , , , , | Leave a comment