Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

Earliest Spring

Earliest Spring
William Dean Howells

Tossing his mane of snows in wildest eddies and tangles,
Lion-like March cometh in, hoarse, with tempestuous breath,
Through all the moaning chimneys, and ‘thwart all the hollows and angles
Round the shuddering house, threating of winter and death.

But in my heart I feel the life of the wood and the meadow
Thrilling the pulses that own kindred with fibres that lift
Bud and blade to the sunward, within the inscrutable shadow,
Deep in the oak’s chill core, under the gathering drift.

Nay, to earth’s life in mine some prescience, or dream, or desire
(How shall I name it aright?) comes for a moment and goes—
Rapture of life ineffable, perfect—as if in the brier,
Leafless there by my door, trembled a sense of the rose.

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , | 8 Comments

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

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

Dead to Hopes of Future Joy

The River
Matthew Arnold

Still glides the stream, slow drops the boat
Under the rustling poplars’ shade;
Silent the swans beside us float
None speaks, none heeds—ah, turn thy head.

Let those arch eyes now softly shine,
That mocking mouth grow sweetly bland:
Ah, let them rest, those eyes, on mine;
On mine let rest that lovely hand.

My pent-up tears oppress my brain,
My heart is swoln with love unsaid:
Ah, let me weep, and tell my pain,
And on thy shoulder rest my head.

Before I die, before the soul,
Which now is mine, must re-attain
Immunity from my control,
And wander round the world again:

Before this teas’d o’erlabour’d heart
For ever leaves its vain employ,
Dead to its deep habitual smart,
And dead to hopes of future joy.

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Haven of Tempests

Caught in the StormDear Darling,

The fireflies are gone from the meadows, their light replaced by the whirring buzz of cicadas.

I don’t find a lot of answers hanging from the overhead limbs near the bridge as I walk tonight. Maybe that’s because I’m too tired to ask the questions. Last weekend, the lightning lit up the sky terrifically and while it quite reflected the disquiet within, it also shortened the time spent outdoors. And yet, sometimes the best shelter is the storm.

The moonless night offers very little sympathy, and off yet another long week of shifts, with barely time to wash, dine and sleep before rising to repeat, I find myself mentally probing through the lack of havens I have. I have plenty of friends with whom I can call up and go see a movie. Plenty that identify with the dim and daunting view of a rotting society. But no one that’s proved much of a shelter, nurturing, energizing, pleasant, and yet without sacrificing the knowledge and understanding that might contribute to such concern. It’s uncanny that some of the people with whom I am on best terms are at work. Long labor is, like people themselves, both the curse and the cure.

“What’s really wrong?” I imagine you asking, as if you were in spirit at my elbow and writing the question across the page.

Darling, you know enough, and I needn’t multiply these thoughts by spreading them.

You’re hurting. Tell me.

Very well, you asked.

What’s wrong is that I’m tired, the kind of tired that cannot be fixed by a vacation. It dawned on me this week that for the first time, I grow a little tired of this job, or at least of its dominance in the schedule I keep. Whether clouds or sun, there is a tempest within that cannot be fled.

I grow tired of an amoral society. Of mediocre friends who neither understand nor support nor share my fledgling attempts at righteousness, who don’t see the storms forming in the eastern sky. Of working and eating and showering and sleeping, and then working and eating and showering and sleeping. Tired of dwelling with those who put forth a fraction of effort and reap far more generous harvests, enriching businesses but not lives. He produces value for companies; I produce value for people, one tender and failing soul at a time. Everyone looks down on someone whose job expects of him to bathe old people for a living — until it’s their grandmother that needs a gentle hand. I don’t understand the people who live for themselves and their personal pleasures. “Day is done, now my life can resume”; the people who get loud and drunk, who have card games and drinking matches, club binges, all-nighters.

I’m tired of being inundated by sex; of seeking a quarry so necessary and yet so elusive.  Tired of needing someone who understands, but too tired or or too unwiling to lift the weights and raise the gate. I don’t want to feel invaded, nor to be someone’s burden. Tired of seeming worthwhile and impressive to everyone except the people I find worthwhile and impressive. Tired of making sacrifices which are seldom seen and less often appreciated. Of giving all night and being underappreciated. Of sleeping through the choice times of day because I need the money by night.

I met a man who told of revitalizing the asphalt industry by infusing greater percentages of polymer into the mix, at a time when it was most needed. Then competing companies orchestrated false reports of danger to undercut his efficiency and maintain their lucrative contracts. There now, you see? Everyone who does important work is overlooked. The cleaners and bakers, the butchers and road-makers, pilots and engineers. I suppose in the end, everyone’s story is forgotten, even if their labors live on.

I’m tired of eating right, living right, exercising right, working right, and sensing no reward. Of all that I need being all that I lack. Of the song and singer, act and actor, the poet and lover, all confessing “You are all I need” and “how could I live without you?” and knowing their fear has been my reality I every day of my life.

Tired of feeling like I have no true haven. Tired of being suspicious of those that portend compassion, holding people at arms length because I distrust the ambition behind their kindness.

I’m tired of a ceaseless flurry of thoughts unfulfilled. Of becoming dull and witless, by virtue of time spent in the company of the dull and witless.

Of loving more and not being able to. Of hungering and thirsting and not being filled. Of seeking the kingdom of God and not having the rest added. Of being told God is enough, yet feeling empty as often as not. I’m weary and heavy laden, but not given rest. But then, maybe Jesus didn’t mean those choosing to work overtime hours to put themselves through school.

I’m tired of civil enemies and uncivil friends. Of waking up on a Friday and having no idea what to do with the evening because places are closed and you aren’t here to spend it with.

Of looking for something new.  That’s why a stranger saying hello at the theater was welcome, even though I was guarded against it. Even though I had to tell her I wasn’t looking for a relationship, not with someone who wasn’t in the kingdom. It’s also why I bought a trove of new books recently. Maybe one day I’ll take you to that store and buy you some books.

I suppose, in the end, I see very few caretakers left in the world, and I worry that I won’t be able to find someone to take care of me.

I flatter myself in taking for granted that I will care for you. Caring is in my DNA. To protect you, I have worked federal and private security, trained with weapons, my hands and my mind. I am tall, my gun is never far, and I train to be strong. To provide for you, I have left the calling I thought I knew to pursue a sure career. It will provide opportunity to grow and advance. I have given of my life to learn how to save the lives of others. To look after you, I’ve learned about how your body works, and the battle-plans of the many diseases which afflict mankind. To please you…well, we will discuss that when the time comes. To plan for you, to prepare for you, to listen to you. I’m ready for that. I’m ready to try. I’m not afraid.

One reason I hesitate to venture into the land of internet matching is because I am ever the writer; in my head, the story you and I are writing separately, but will one day harmonize, writes much better if we meet and happen to hit it off unintentionally, rather than selecting each other as acceptable to meet in hopes that we will hit it off. There is so much less pressure, obligation, expectation.

There you have it, dearest. There’s the lion’s share of the clouds in my heart tonight. Thank you for asking, and listening. To know you care, well, that is a gale that would daunt any dark horizon. They aren’t always yours to drive away. Sometimes God drives away the storm…and sometimes His greatest lessons are taught in its midst.

I remain ever

Yours most sincerely,
Beren

August 2, 2014 Posted by | About Me, Loneliness, Nights Like These | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

There Was Evening, And There Was Morning

MaidenVoyageDear Darling,

The days and feelings all jumble together.

Two nights ago, there was a great storm. Alegfast is away and I’ve the house to myself, and my heart smiled to hear rain on the roof. The clock struck midnight, and the lightning flashed on the horizon. I chanced to venture outside before a particularly close bolt strongly recommended the indoors as a safer alternative.

What phenomenal creatures, lightning! Transient suns in forests of rain, huntless game both proud and wild. They contain more power than we could hope to harvest, and yet are casually wasted in errant displays of might, flashing as if only for their own sport. They outpaces the blink of an eye, creatures “which doth cease to be, ere one can say it lightens” leaving its footprint on the ear only in the wake of departure. Yet they are idle enough to meander in their path. Fearsome to hunt indeed, would be the lightning.

The following day is mild and beautiful; it wants something done with it. It wants wordless enjoyment and appreciation, it beckons to be celebrated and reveled in. Yet, here I am torn, for words are all I can avail myself of which affords any sort of connection with you!

Changing winds always stoke up the restlessness, and this preview of autumn is no different. It wants for impatient chasing through pastures and by creeks, it wants for hiking and biking, snuggling and conversing. It challenges us to chase starlight and hail the smiling moon. There is nothing I can contrive to satisfy what this day wants of me. It wants us. Fleeting winds brush the skin only remind me they can’t be caressed in return, nor do they care. They only whisper “She’s not here. She’s not here. She’s not here.”

Uncertain of how to answer these challenges, I load up my bike and drive to the southern trail. The rain-washed sky against the vibrant green fields makes the perfect backdrop, and I listen to sermons as I ride.

Telling myself I can still go to work later in the evening, I open the windows, wash and lay down to rest. Hours later, I awaken halfway through the night, well-rested and faced with a neighborhood submerged in silence. Circadian rhythms are overrated once you break out of them. Now, with nothing better to do, I dress and go for a walk. It’s a morning crisp and chill, promising another mild and inviting day. Prayer and memory mingle with aromas and essences, some of them unexplainable. Why do I smell the old motorhome that my grandparents once brought to my childhood home? Or why the disinfectant which recalls a class three summers ago? How inextricable are the aromas from their memories.

Wherever you are, I imagine you are somewhere adrift on the high seas of your dreams. Your chest is rising and falling amid slumbering sighs, missing me during your days too if I’m not mistaken; you’ve no idea that you’re being prayed so intently while you sleep.

I’ve examined this paradox before, but I remove it from its box to ponder yet again. Contained within this life of mine are all the ingredients that should make a body happy. (And indeed, coming off one of my longest stretches yet, logging nearly a hundred hours at work, there is a sort of blissful content to be had, the kind only wrought by cessation of an unpleasant task, or a pleasant one maintained too long.) My work has purpose and meaning. I seem to find favor with my colleagues and clients alike. The path none too distant can only improve. During intervals in which I don’t work, I collect whomever will follow and find some dinner or a movie or both. I owe no financial attachment to anyone, and the Lord is attending all my needs. My prayers ought to consist only of thanks and gratitude. Indeed, for the present, there should be no petitions to present, no pleas to proffer. The Lord knew them before they were spoken the first time, and they’ve been spoken often enough since.

And yet. And yet, when I’m out here, I am aware that in a way, life hasn’t truly even begun yet. That’s a harrowing thought, considering the ages and afflictions of some of my patients aren’t so much greater than mine. This life misses the care and companionship of someone sensible, gentle and devoted, someone made kind from seeing enough pain and loneliness. The kind of person who wins me over with the little things.And you know, it will really be the little things. It’s always the little things that catch my eye, that give grounds for a second look. Someone using a minced oath rather than a true one. Someone who ignores or walks away from the obvious vulgarity. Something as simple as handing someone else a piece of cake before taking yours. The way you interact with children. There was a girl with whom I worked some days back. A patient, half out of her head, expressed fear. We attended her physical fears as much as we could, and as I left the room, I heard her gently ask if she was a woman of faith. Halfway out the door, I was awestruck as I listened to her unfold a prayer before the throne that would make any minister’s congregation proud. Oh, she’s taken, never fear. But it’s little things like that which grab and hold my attention. It’s the behavior of an outlier, and seldom have I seen such deeds as make me give glory to God.

She later confided troubles she faced between her family and her current suitor, troubles which I could tell she would not tell just anyone. (I’m always so infernally safe for people to confide in.)

And look at all my friendships. Most of them seem to be ministries of a sort. I wasn’t the sort of kid when younger whom others came up to and invited me along. I learned how to grow up on my own two feet. I can’t immediately think of someone who isn’t family that I’m not on guard against in some small way. Some nights, I conclude I need to leave people to spin on their own wheels for a while and attend my own needs. But only for a night. A full night’s sleep later, I’m fresh enough to start the circuit of checking in on people again, because I know they need someone to check in on them. I can’t really think of anyone who’s doing the same for me.

You know, I was listening to a radio program on my way home from biking, one of those programs that troubleshoots and advises couples on love and marriage. The wife interviewed spoke of mismatched blind spots she didn’t anticipate, like being a morning person versus a night owl, or serving someone who’s laid up sick. Surely these are the words spoken this side of ignorance, but the warnings mentioned did not even faze me. I’m both a morning and an evening person as need calls; and pull 24- and 36-hour shifts when need arises. I’m used to attending the needs of seven and twelve patients at a time, laid up sick and hurting and all having needs to be prioritized and met. Do you think one wife laid up will be a trial?

I am considered by many to be unwavering and unbending on many issues of import; but beneath that, beyond the standards laid down by God Himself, I believe most people who truly know me would say I am pleasant and easy-going. I don’t get hung up on the trappings and bickering of too many insignificant things like I’ve seen so many colleagues or friends do.

So when I make my vows to you, to serve and honor and cherish, it’s because I will mean it. When I discharge the duty laid upon me by the Lord Jesus through the Apostle Paul to love you as Christ loved His bride, it’s with the intent of loving you up to and including my own death. You will be my wife. You will be part of me. As woman was taken from man, so man takes woman back to himself; I will fold you into my own existence and protect you as my very own — bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. There will be times when reason rejects and inclination opposes; you won’t want to love me, nor I you, and for perfectly valid reasons that either of us is, in the moment, acting incredibly unlovable and stupid. There will be highs and lows of our voyage together. But when the storms come, at least you and I will have each other to stand beside at the helm.

Until then, my dear, I salute from afar the memories we have yet to make, and the appointments we have yet to keep. I’ll turn my attention back to the waves and sails, and navigate them as best I can until you come to claim your place at my side.

Affectionately yours,
Beren

July 16, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sundry Summer Thoughts

Man Alone by the Sea

“The urge to run, the restlessness
The heart of stone I sometimes get
The things I’ve done for foolish pride
The me that’s never satisfied
The face that’s in the mirror when I don’t like what I see
I guess that’s just the cowboy in me.”

Tim McGraw

Dear Darling,

I’m not entirely sure my little vacation did me the good it ought to have. I think instead it was a respite without requiescence, disrupting the restless and sometimes reckless pace that I love — and hate — to maintain. The past couple of nights at work I’ve struggled. There were patients who offered a meaningful thank-you when I was able to console and relieve their pains; a tender reminder of exactly why I’m in this business. Of course, tonight I must needs reshuffle the sleeping arrangements for church tomorrow, and the hours of night already fly.

1) I went walking tonight, but I find my walks less productive of late. Perhaps they needn’t always produce fervent prayers or glimmering revelations, but it does seem as though desire and inspiration have trended downward. Perhaps I am in a holding pattern at the moment, biding my time for studies to resume, and until I find you. Perhaps desire smolders and inspiration is subdued through some disuse. I haven’t found you to live for and care for, nor anyone to render like compensation in my name. I think I’ll always need something for which to struggle, even though it weighs heavily at the time. I’ll always need something to which I can look forward as well. I hope you’ve likewise set goals for yourself? If not, I hope you will. I hope to learn archery, to ride a hot air balloon, and to once again straddle a horse. Then of course there’s the travel I mentioned, and the time to pursue more outdoors sports such as biking, canoeing and kayaking.

So my walk seems devoid of true purpose. The thoughts aren’t so loud as the often seem, nor so pressing. The silence seems a poor gift to lay at the throne, but so do the same names I’ve brought before, or the nameless, selfsame bride to whom I write.

2) There are nights where yours and my words will run dry. Ah, but that’s why they invented kissing.

3) I’ll write more about this one day, but as you might imagine, there are a great number of women who think shedding the majority of their raiment for seaside recreation is perfectly acceptable. By society, it is. (And what man wouldn’t approve of a woman feeling herself “liberated” from clothes?) By myself, it is not. Please remember, my dear, the simple reality that you can either cover up, or contribute to the constant battle of a man to look at women honorably, no matter how dishonorably they dress. Some men still wage such a war, and I greatly hope you will want to air on his side.

4) On my travels back, I sat between a Buddhist and a lesbian. I struck up a conversation with the former and, being a dabbler myself, was able to instruct him about some of the more technical points of photography and camera operation. The woman to my right paid some attention, and when our plane landed, we all sat down for a bit before our connecting flights. I was able to share the gospel with both of them at that time…perhaps the most gratifying moment of my trip. At a time when I felt like I’d neglected the things of the Kingdom, or that I wasn’t shining bright enough, it seems He sent to me the opportunity to shine for Him, and for that I was thoroughly grateful.

5) Within two sunsets of my having returned, I prevailed upon a friend to temper his urge to move, and accompanied him on a thirteen hour excursion into the deep south with a load of furniture and possessions. He is an intellectual, and he understands fully the perilous direction society is trending. Our conversation was heavy with topics ranging from Catholicism and transubstantiation to farm subsidies and taxation. Before we left, I had occasion to play with, feed, change and then rock to sleep his infant son. It reminded me again that although there are things I hope for us both to accomplish before we begin our own family, I will be gratified when the day comes. On our car trip, his father noted the Catholic enjoinment that marital intimacy was reserved strictly for reproduction. This reminded me that I am most certainly not Catholic.

6) I wonder what excuses I will find when I am finally out of school and fully commissioned, but this summer has afforded the opportunity to resume some reading. I’ve put away the Diary of Anne Frank, The Last Lecture and am currently working through Oliver Twist, to say nothing of the poetry I continue to peruse. (That last bit comes from a volume I found tonight in the shop, and is best read with a crisp Scottish brogue if you can manage it.)

7) Did you ever stop to wonder when you became “the smart one”? I’ve noticed an increasing trend here of late. A comment on the subjugation and colonialism of south African nations (and how diamonds are a marketing trick) led one nurse to look at me and ask, not entirely without sarcasm, how I got so smart. I’ve reached a cruising altitude in my job now where some nurses ask me questions. A friend asked me the meaning of a word. Naturally this makes me check myself to make sure I’m not swaggering knowledge. But of course, I forget not everyone is on the same page as I.

8) Do you ever evaluate in your own way whether or not God is happy with you? Of course, we are all made perfect in the sight of God, but if that is the only standard by which to measure, then there is no incentive in striving to please God passed the shadow of the cross. For example, does it make God happier that I sponsored a child than if I hadn’t? Would be be more pleased if I paid more? Not, of course, that the favor of the Almighty can be purchased, nor that scales such as the widow’s mites can be ignored. But I do find myself wondering, asking, hoping, that God can smile down from heaven in pride, knowing that His son is seeking and striving to better the world as often as may be, and imploring others to repent and be saved when he can. I do know that I need to work on grace and forgiveness, love and acceptance and patience. I think the prayer we must all pray is that God may make us more like His Son each day.

9) In olden days, men of valor performed great deeds and the minstrels sung of them. Now as a rule, neither men  nor their deeds are great. They sit idly by and revere the minstrels. I live to see the most amazing things, working with the warriors, the guardians and sentinels, the menders and the healers, preservers of peace and keepers of health. We don’t ask for admiration. But on nights when I venture out among friends, I often harbor a hidden disbelief that they laud the vapid and insignificant stories and brush aside those who stand on the front lines of all that has meaning in this world.

10) Often it’s the saddest and heaviest of emotions that drive me to process them in a letter to you. I think it’s the same with God; we hear him best when hardship drives us to Him for answers. And so, when I seem to unburden the gravest of loads, I hope you appreciate that these are not the sum total of my thoughts or experience. Much of it means I’m only unhappy in your absence; that I don’t have someone else to live for, and that when I have entertained such hopes in the past, I’ve been far more pleasant to be around. My dearest, you’re the answer to this problem. You’re the other half. You’ll mellow me out. You’ll make me okay either with relaxing or with not being relaxed.

There’s more, Darling. There’s always more. But for now, the loose ends have been threaded through honesty’s ink-jar and arranged in a way which I hope you will find agreeable. Doubtless you’ll be rising before long for worship, and I hope you find it meaningful.

Yours,
Beren

June 29, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness, Nights Like These | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For You Alone I Strive to Sing

Bowing to the Queen

O Tell Me How To Woo Thee
Walter Grahame

If doughty deeds my ladye please,
Right soon I’ll mount my steed;
And strong his arm, and fast his seat,
That bears frae me the meed.
I’ll wear thy colors in my cap,
Thy picture in my heart;
And he that bends not to thine eye
Shall rue it to his smart.
Then tell me how to woo thee, love
O tell me how to woo thee!
For thy dear sake, nae care I’ll take,
Tho’ ne’er another trow me.

If gay attire delight thine eye,
I’ll dight me in array;
I’ll tend thy chamber door all night,
And squire thee all the day.
If sweetest sounds can win thy ear,
These sounds I’ll strive to catch;
Thy voice I’ll steal to woo thysel’,
That voice that nane can match,
Then tell me how to woo thee, love;
O tell me how to woo thee!
For thy dear sake, nae care I’ll take,
Tho’ ne’er another trow me.

But if fond love thy heart can gain,
I never broke a vow;
Nae maiden lays her skaith to me,
I never loved but you.
For you along I ride the ring,
For you I wear the blue;
For you alone I strive to sing,
O tell me how to woo!
O tell me how to woo thee, love;
O tell me how to woo thee!
For thy dear sake, nae care I’ll take,
Tho’ ne’er another trow me.

June 29, 2014 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy We’ll Be

beachlove-15Dear Darling,

I’ve lately returned from a seaside excursion with friends. I expect you will wonder if I had a pleasant time, and the answer is partially. My friends are a bit absurd, as so much of my generation is. There were some nights where the conversation could be guided into a greater depth of topics, but for the greater part of the trip, self-photography and deep thoughtful conversations on how warm coffee should be. These are adults chronologically more advanced than I, yet the senses of humor drifted between the risque and the childish, the perpetration of acts of flatulence and a childish amusement therein. By virtue of my disapproval , I was rendered the antediluvian mossback.

Furthermore, I found irksome the contemporary conversational expression “I feel like” as a substitute for a statement of belief. Instead of saying “this bread tastes stale” the statement transitions to “I feel like this bread is stale.” Coupled with the trend of phrasing each sentence as a question, I observe that these are symptomatic of the subtle poisonings from relativism, self-centeredness and a slackening of conviction. It seems most Christians I meet are liberalized in some form, shallow in conviction and supposing themselves enlightened because they can see “shades of gray.” I wondered at their intimate knowledge of songs and films not just that fail to honor God, but which actively dishonor Him.

Well then Beren! Is this all that you have surmised in the wake of your retreat? Could you not take even a small reprieve from your consternation over the encroaching ills of society?

Naturally not.

And so you see now my dear, your Beren cannot even holiday by the sea without expounding on his grim expectations for society and the church. Yet I challenge you, as a woman of dignity and grace, to overlook the churlish pastime of breaking wind for idle laughter with no more than a rolling of the eyes.

Satisfaction and fulfillment in their true forms seem more elusive for me. Perhaps it is my situation and circumstances. I prefer the company of those who value purpose and depth over those who prioritize fun and pleasure, and find more loneliness than satisfaction among the latter. I prefer distant mountains, challenges to myself, and a sense of accomplishment. I would rather canoe, camp, hike and cycle, or see more return on my investment than just a moderate tanning of the skin. I prefer that which draws me closer the Lord, and on this trip I quite nearly forgot Him. Furthermore, I found in myself a striking lack of inspiration. I quite thought rejuvenation should be the necessary conclusion of such a trip!

Insofar as you are concerned, your absence wasn’t escaped, merely diminished. You’ll think me rather silly if I tell you I looked for you as I made my way through the concourses and byways of my trip. You do think me silly, I am sure, but I’m not afraid to own it.

I did find time for reading and relaxation. And I suppose I am dissatisfied to find the trip dissatisfying, if you take my meaning. Happiness is simple, but not easy.

Ahh, but then there were the moments wherein I imagined you present. I rewrote the script in my head starring you, and bathed the moments in the imaginings of us. The planning of the trip, and the packing. The travel, the arrival. The dinners out, the picnics together. I saw you in a gentle island-print dress as we dined on seafood, and I saw you silhouetted against a nautical sunset as we waded in a tranquil sea of deep red. I saw the freedom we had with each other, the breathless racing back to privacy when desire overcame us.

I wrote to you but once throughout the week, a letter which was surrendered to the waves by twilight.

So Darling, as you lay your head on the pillow tonight and if your thoughts drift to your future groom, consider that somewhere beyond the sea, your lover stood on golden sands and watched the ships as they sailed, and thought of you. In the company of friends and food, still the moments were incomplete, and he spent them loving you. And that we may very well return to these shores, to the fulfillment of the song that flowed through my head each day: “Happy we’ll be beyond the sea; and never again I’ll go sailing.”

Yours,
Beren

June 26, 2014 Posted by | Loneliness | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

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

So Late It’s Early

TheBridge

“But always and ever when high and far
The old moon hideth her troubled face,
I think how the light like a falling star
Lit all my world with a new strange grace.
The passionate glow of your splendid eyes
Shines into my heart as it shone that night,
And its slumberous billows surge and rise
As the ocean is stirred by the tempest’s might.”

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Dear Darling,

It’s the brightest moon of the year tonight. A “honey moon” they call it. It’s directly opposite the sun tonight, and lowest in the sky. Having one this close on a Friday the 13th won’t happen again for another 84 years, if you didn’t know. So enclosed you’ll find a picture of the old bridge I keep talking about. It isn’t much to look at; no testament to architectural art or tribute to an era gone by. Just a simple old bridge that does the job so no one has to ford the creek.

Now that I’m back home, it’s so late that it’s early. Adjusting back to days is always a bit of a hassle after working nights, and often leaves me a bit down, especially with no one to talk to on nights.

Tonight I’m somewhere on neutral ground between felicity and futility. What did I call my lifestyle? Binge and purge. This week on my way to work, I felt myself infused with an energy, eager even to lift many times the panel of patients I would care for that night. Brief periods of rest and relaxation often give me that surge.

On to the news before I cash in for the night.

I adopted a child this week. Not physically of course; I decided it was high time to give a little more of myself than I have been, so I’m now the sponsor of a young girl on the coast of east Africa. Now this led me to an interesting ponderance, Darling, and on this I must solicit your opinion. Where do we draw the line between letting our light shine before men, and not doing our good deeds to be praised by them? In sponsoring this child, I wished to urge others to join me in the act. But then I questioned whether I was doing so to garner the praise and attention of others. Our Father who sees what is done in secret will reward us. But I also believe good deeds are easier done in tandem. I gambled against my own pride and haven’t told anyone, except a coworker or two. (I met one young co-worker who reminds me a little of you; her soul smells of Jesus, though her language sometimes stank of hell. She has a heart and passion for overseas missions, and her position as a nurse allows her that luxury.)

Now I will brag just a little. I’ve alluded to the fact that I’ve been going to the gym since the beginning of the year. We gym monkeys sometimes do deadlifts and obviously want to do our best. This week, my new personal best was 270 pounds. This too leads to another question. I’ve been working on the concept of doing my best for my own sake, not because it will make a good story to tell others, or because it proves something to them. But, we like to share personal triumphs with others, and heaven knows our friends and their albums are full of them. So I found myself again asking, would I be showboating if I were to have documented this moment? Again, I hedged my bets against pride. If in doubt.

A patient of mine was featured on the Today show. One thing about being with a nurse my dear, you’ll never lack for good stories!

I’ve also been (tentatively) invited to speak at a convention overseas. The expenses would be covered, but the times and dates are up in the air. I’m hopeful. You know I do love to travel…and if God is willing, I will go to the beach, the mountains of Appalachia,  the jungles of South America, the orient, and India all in the next six to eight months.

Tomorrow begins the first journey, and hopefully one of relaxation and rejuvenation. I’ll write as often as I can, but if you don’t find any further letters here, look for one or two bottles afloat in the Atlantic ocean addressed to you.

Goodnight, my dear, and Godspeed.

-Beren

June 14, 2014 Posted by | About Me, Loneliness, Nights Like These, Poems | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments