Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

Balancing Head and Heart

Balancing Head and Heart

Dear Darling,

And here you are, arrived at another weekend. You are probably sleeping as I write; I ought to be. But sleep eludes, and we both know our relationship is more important than sleep, even if it exists only in the letters we write.

I think we all experience the moments (hopefully brief) where we don’t like ourselves. We balance our looks, knowledge and personality against what others have and find ourselves wanting. I’m sure you’ve looked at yourself, at your life and possessions, and not liked what you see.

I think all wise people at some point in their life come to dislike themselves, by knowing themselves too well and dislike the frailties they see. Sometimes I don’t like me. I find it strange that a lot of other people seem to. But then, I don’t think they like me…they like the side of me that they see. They like social me, professional me, the me that has learned how to make fast friends with people, especially with whom you’ll be working for the next twelve hours. We all have different sides we show, different masks we wear. We all become just a little bit of someone else if we like them and are with them.

That’s why people like hanging around Alegfast. He’s happy and positive most all of the time. There are people who artificially portray this (the overcompensating fakers…we’ve all met one of those) and then there are those who are just generally positive and outgoing. I have a classmate who constantly radiates sunshine and joy, and I truly don’t know how she does it. Happy just isn’t who I am deep down, not all the time. I’m no war-scarred veteran, but I’ve seen death and sadness and tragedy. I stay alert to what’s happening in my world. I hear the thunder-peals of storms approaching. I’ve studied the darkness, the better to know how to prepare against it. The heart doesn’t break; it just has a thousand tiny fissures in it. Soon enough they calcify and harden. “To love at all is to be vulnerable,” wrote Lewis. “Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become breakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

Still…there’s something to be said for a heart immune to the sting and stench of brokenness. Or at least, a heart so accustomed to ache that it bends with pain rather than breaking from it.

What if you could go back and visit yourself as a child? What would you wear? What would you say? I haven’t the slightest idea where I’d begin. But I’d like to think that the me of fifteen or twenty years ago would look up to the tall man of his future walking towards him, confident and grown…and he’d be glad to know he’ll grow up to be at least most of the man he wanted to be. And as for advice? Well, how does one summarize two decades of life, in all its disappointments and triumphs? Like love, it’s really something that has to be lived to understand. Life is truly just a process of building up and then breaking down our illusions.

But again, this chubby young lad with his hick accent, goofy smile and hopeless personality was also naive enough to think adults knew what they were doing. Perhaps that would be the quickest rumor to dispel. Christ really is the solid rock, and everything else really is sinking sand. No one is ever absolutely certain of what they’re doing, and can seldom advise others any better. Often when I confront life’s dilemmas, I want to hear a word of wisdom from someone who cares enough to offer some sage counsel. Life seems increasingly flat, and people increasingly unintelligent as they offer such witless suggestions as “it’s just one of those things” or “you’ll just have to let that go.” I don’t know why I keep asking questions of people and thinking they might have a better answer than I. By the time they’ve offered a thought or a suggestion, my brain has already gone six steps ahead, and wants a new thought or a new perspective. Illuminating insights are hard to come by. And that’s why I’ve resolved to at least try to be that voice for others…advice and reason and compassion.

A nurse was obviously angry with her husband this week while we were working, and it bled over into her work. (She was unapologetically but consciously venting.) Well I don’t quite know what got into me, but I came over and massaged her shoulders and told her she needed to calm down. Then when she enumerated her cold intentions for the husband in question, I suggested going one more level up…the level of angry response where you’re so angry that you resolve to kill someone with kindness. “Tell him he may be a jerk but you love him anyway,” I suggested. “Bring home Chinese food.” She liked the Chinese food idea.

Sometimes I wonder if being Christ to the world doesn’t always mean just sharing the Gospel. Maybe it can be just the voice of being Christlike. But then, Christ emphasized to those He healed that salvation and forgiveness came before physical cures. It’s no good acting like Christ if you never meet Him.

I’m trying to reclaim that concept. I’m trying not to lose sight of what’s important. I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept of grace, and if there’s such a thing as too much grace. For example, if a couple is living in sin and violating God’s design for sex, marriage and relationships, is inviting them over for dinner a form of acceptance and fellowship with darkness (that which light ought not to have) or is it an opportunity to be a gentle witness? Why does it seem like those who throw grace at you are merely wanting you to add your signature to the permission slip they’ve written themselves to sin?

We shouldn’t continue in sin that grace may increase, but obviously the Lord forgives and wipes away the debts of our immoral deeds, and rejoices over the repentant sinner. Of course, I’ve asked the question before if “behaving” is worth it, since the prodigal son is invited in for a feast (having sipped dry the fountains of sin) while the loyal brother stays in the field. When I was young, speeding was a cardinal sin, and I once admonished my father for it from my car seat. Even when older, I was careful to follow it. I suppose I’m still proud I’ve never been pulled over, while other friends share their amused commiserations of the traffic schools they’ve attended and tickets they’ve had to pay. I assumed from the Bible and my upbringing that alcohol was, if not sinful, at least a vice and certainly less preferable. But that aversion evolved into something akin to a graceless and proud perspective — graceless in struggling to accept drinking in other believers, and proud because I’ve never joined that activity. And anyway, if God forgives, what’s the point of trying? If obedience pleases God no more or less than anyone else because all our righteous acts are as filthy rags, then why wouldn’t you have a little fun? Why not let that profanity slip out a bit more easily? Why not watch movies or TV or music that set a tone far more resonant with hell than heaven?

Maybe grace is what’s more important. Maybe I’ve just been to uptight about all of it. After all, God didn’t even get on King David’s case for multiple wives…only for having a kid out of wedlock. And God was pretty matter-of-fact: “You’ve done wrong, you’ve got some consequences to pay.” The baby died, and David was sad. No death penalty. No time behind bars.

God forgives. He’s really, really forgiving. And we should all be grateful, because no one doesn’t need grace. But beyond that, I’m understanding increasingly less the fact that additional obedience doesn’t matter. Whether you’re Mother Teresa or a reformed killer, no one can “earn” God’s favor, and anyone who tries is just admonished for falling into the trap of earning God’s favor, or trying to be better than someone else. And the more people to whom I pose this question, the less answer I get in return.

That’s the balance, Darling. Balancing the head and the heart…believing what God said and lining it up with what we feel. Feelings, someone said, should be viewed through Scripture, not Scripture viewed through our feelings. Finding the heart to accept people even if your mind assertively stamps their behavior as intolerable. I stopped by to see a few friends-of-friends that are becoming friends last night. One was meeting a man she’d talked with online, and asked me for my advice. She abruptly mentioned my pursuit of purity in a mate (something I hadn’t mentioned since I’ve resolved to keep that quieter, so obviously our mutual friend brought this to her attention) and this immediately became a focus of the conversation. “It’s not a standard for me!” announced one of the girls. “You have to have some grace!” Clearly pride can be found within grace as much as in its absence. I changed the subject.

On another subject, I picked the wrong field to be a gentleman. I spent all Thursday night and Friday morning studying even further the art of breastfeeding, its pitfalls and complications, with a great many accompanying photos, illustrations and videos, along with a helpful teacher gesturing with her own body. It makes me appreciate who you are as a woman my dear, able to produce and nurture a baby. And no doubt it makes me more attuned to these things for later reference. But I can’t shake the feeling I’m being slowly desensitized and conditioned in so systematic a way as to rob from some future date the pleasure of that discovery.

In closing, I was profoundly amused tonight when my silent and stoic roommate returned home this evening with a woman with whom he’d apparently shared a date. They are both older, easily their forties or fifties. He’d only said “a friend” was coming over, he’d said nothing of a woman or a date, and I was thus unprepared to meet her. But we immediately hit it off and launched into a twenty minute conversation about politics, government and our mutual opinions of world affairs. If I had to guess from what I know of him, this was the most animated the conversation had become all evening. He sat there rather silent for most of the conversation, until I realized even if he’s been self-absorbed and remote, I should still leave him alone with his date. A brother never shows up another in front of his date, so hopefully that wasn’t the most amused she’d been. But I laughed all the way to the shower on that.

Good night, love. I hope your dreams are pleasant, and your waking no less.
Beren

Advertisements

February 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Valentine’s Day: A Kiss of Desire

Rosebud of desire

The White Rose
John Boyle O’Reilly

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

February 14, 2014 Posted by | Poems | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Worth It?

Saddened Knight

“He believed in the things that he always thought he knew
And had done all the things that he always wanted to do
Collecting each thing, reflecting his worth
But now he pondered, how he had wandered this earth

For we all seem to give our lives away
Searching for things that we think we must own
Until on this evening when the year is leaving
We all try to find our way home.”

Dear Darling,

The storm’s blown over. I woke up this morning before alarm or sun, finding myself feeling hurt and distant, continuing this feeling of being on the outside looking in. Four and a half hours’ sleep will have to do. I roll over and begin telling these things to God, but even He feels distant.

I don’t have to be at the church for two hours, but I dress anyway and prepare breakfast while asking of the Lord what He would have me do. Am I truly in His will? To be sure, He has blessed me with unique and rare gifts and experiences this year, and taken care of all my needs. I am not rich, but if enough is as good as a feast, then I have feasted. But does that mean I am doing what He wants me to do?

The question that has been haunting me of late is, has any of this been worth it? Trying to be worthy…worthy of God’s favor by following His laws. Worthy of men’s favor by being a servant, a hard worker, someone who helps. Worthy of you.

I have not seen my family in a week; it’s the first time such hostility has gone down, the first time I actually thought I would be disallowed from spending Christmas with family. I serve them as best I can, and am treated worse than my elder brother. Mounds of ill overshadow mountains of good.

Is it possible to please God? “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Therefore, there are very specific things that I have tried to avoid in deference to remaining unstained from the world. I don’t drink. I don’t indulge the angry or frustrated impulses to swear, although God knows the words have entered my ears often enough to be found in my heart in times of anger. I don’t go to see movies which I feel dishonor Christ with such behavior, and I view dimly the celebrities who do so.

These are rifts between myself and my culture, and with this culture, they grow ever wider. Very often they occur between myself and my friends, or coworkers, or even would-be mates. I struggle not to think less of them for these behaviors…drinking to become drunk or even “tipsy” or leaving unbridled their tongue of fire. A good friend of mine explained that she would not have had the courage to dance unless she’d “had a few.” Friends gather to watch movies or shows that are crude and crass. “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving,” wrote Paul, and so I try to avoid indulging in such entertainment. The other night I made excuses to leave a gathering because their plan was to watch an R-rated movie…a gathering which revolved around “church.” I still wince inwardly at every single profane word (particularly that of my Savior’s name) even though I hear these words constantly. The minute someone casually swears, they have told me a lot about themselves and it saddens me. When someone shuffles around in tight-wrapped jeans, indecently short skirts, obscenely tight yoga pants or revealingly low-cut tops, they too broadcast a message which saddens me.

Whatever happened to Philippians 4:8 and thinking only on what is righteous? Whatever happened to walking as children of light? Whatever happened to putting away “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” or not even naming sexual immorality and impurity? Is life so miserable that we must chemically augment its reality with fermented grain and grape? Is God asleep that we should defy Him by conversation riddled with the ugly and bitter words of profanity? Is the darkness not sufficient for our ignoble deeds that we now parade them into the light and make them acceptable? “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

But why? What is the good of trying? Why worry about trying to please God? Where did we get the idea that our good behavior will be rewarded? The Bible talks of obedience “so that it may go well with you” but even the Psalmist worried and wondered about the righteous man suffering while the wicked prosper.

The challenge goes like this. I hold a standard, of finding a wife who is wholesome and dignified and pure. People ask me what I’m looking for, and then question that decision because it tweaks their own guilt. “We’ve all made mistakes,” they say. “If you’ve looked with lust, it’s the same as having sex,” others insist. (Looking with lust is a sin, but surely not equivalent to the deed itself?) “You have no room to judge if you’ve ever looked at pornography.” Can it really be true that the occasional loss of every man’s battle is tantamount to fornication itself? Do the moments of weakness which I would easily forgive or overlook in a mate nullify the hope or expectation for a partner who is not plundered of physical purity by choice and surrender? Are some sins not greater than others, or do we damn a child’s lie with equal enthusiasm as a murdering rapist? And if the sins and their penalties are commensurate, why wouldn’t someone struggling to please the Lord choose the sin with greater pleasure?

The Workers Wages and the Prodigal Son, of which I’ve written before, both point to the futility of sacrifice, of following God and disciplining one’s self to remain unstained by the world. Where is the incentive to act in a way which pleases the Lord if there is not greater merit to be found in obedience? I esteem more highly those who take God’s will seriously, and who have disciplined themselves sufficiently to follow His word. Likewise, I aspire to the same standard to please God and show Him to the world. But in doing so, I’m accused of thinking myself better than others, or of looking down on others. Not to say I am better than anyone else, but if there is not greater value to be found in such pursuits, why ever would we try to uphold a higher standard, or to find fellowship with others of like mind? Why not drink? Why not carouse? Why not flirt with disaster and dance on the fire’s edge?

Thus is the riddle. Obeying a standard earns no favor. Asserting such a standard means you are judging. Seeking it of others is too discriminating. A disappointed or diminished opinions from such behaviors make you critical and harsh.

Very well then, why have I tried so hard, consciously trying to prepare myself for a wife of virtue, faithfulness, kindness and compassion when none seem to be found who desires the same, and when others encourage me to lower these expectations out of practical reality in the world? Why place a higher premium on good behavior if everyone in the kingdom is redeemed, and preference beyond that is subjective and ungracious? Perhaps she has slept with a man or two before she got holy. That is no reason to reject her. I might just as well bring home a repentant murderer or a penitent stripper — after all, if they are forgiven, who am I to judge?

You cannot earn God’s favor but through Christ. But can His favor be earned beyond that? Are all really on the same platform, the repentant serial killer and the charitable benefactor? Does God really care whether we drove ten nails or ten thousand into the cross? If there is no favor except by the blood of Christ, why try to be “good” if you cannot maintain any higher degree of pride, favor or approval from God for “behaving”?

And what of your favor? As my third decade dwindles and I cannot find anyone to match your description, I find myself asking what was the good of trying to anticipate how to please you, when all I can find are those who insist I should lighten up and relax.

But fear not, Darling, if fear you ever did. Conscience and principle still forbid great departures from the path of wisdom. But increasingly, I fail to see the solution to this riddle between virtue and virtue’s reward. Increasingly, despite the words of Paul in Romans 5, blanket pardons and those who wave them increasingly appear as a license not to worry overmuch about one’s sins. Let those who read and follow hereafter gainsay if they can.

Love ever,
Beren

“For we all seem to give our lives away
Searching for things that we think we must own
But on this evening when the year is leaving
I think I would be alright if on this Christmas night
I could just find my way home.”

Trans Siberian Orchestra

December 23, 2013 Posted by | Holidays, Loneliness, Purity, Questions, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Present in Absence

Present in Absence
John Hoskyns

Absence, hear thou my protestation
Against thy strength,
Distance, and length;
Do what thou canst for alteration:
For hearts of truest mettle
Absence doth join, and Time doth settle.
Who loves a mistress of such quality,
He soon hath found
Affection’s ground
Beyond time, place, and all mortality.
To hearts that cannot vary
Absence is Presence, Time doth tarry.
By absence this good means I gain,
That I can catch her,
Where none can watch her,
In some close corner of my brain:
There I embrace and kiss her;
And so I both enjoy and miss her.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sundry Thoughts on a Frigid Night

Even Santa needs Mrs. Claus

Even Santa needs Mrs. Claus

Dear Luthien,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love,
Beren

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

Sundry Thoughts for October, Part IV

Dear Darling,

How was your day? What did you eat, who did you talk to, where did you go? My day was the same as the rest of my life — an unfinished song. I wanted to write several things, and as they all wished to be written at once, none of them were. I have to be up for a video shoot tomorrow early, but I must write to you again before sleeping.

1) It snowed today. I can’t recall an October that gifted us with snow so early. It was just the right kind of weather for afternoon cuddling, dreary and plodding, cold and blustery. I had on my favorite, slightly-oversized fleece pullover, and I cleaned up the car and room, wrote a little, shopped for medical stock, went to the bank, gas station and store, and wrote a letter. It was a laid-back day, honestly.

2) I’m sorry I can’t come sooner. No one should be more convinced my desire is to find you as quick as may be, but I follow the orders of my King, and He has deemed it is not the due time. But I know inwardly you must be lonely and suffering to bear up under these days of solitude, with no one to share your secrets or sadness. Take some solace in the fact that I am poised at the starting gate, and it is only my Savior who stands waiting to give the signal. Join me in asking Him that the time will come, that He will release me to come and find you.

3) Where do you spend your spare time? At home? In a coffee shop somewhere? Out with friends? If I knew where you tended to hang out, even in general, doubtless I would pay call and loiter about those places. But where does a servant of Christ spend his time that would allow him to meet suitable maidens? Where might you pass your leisure that I could loiter about and seek after your face?

4) I ran an obstacle race recently. There was mud, ice, rock, sweat and electricity — eleven miles of it. It was one of the hardest things I’ve made myself endure, and it was so miserable it was fun. It would have been such fun to have you run with me, or at least be waiting for me at the end. Though, I promise you wouldn’t have wanted to kiss me!

5) “If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.” ― Oscar Wilde

6) I started a business once. Did I tell you that? I was sued and it didn’t work out. I didn’t pay the corporation registry fee and they canceled it my LLC. But the website service lived on for a time, even when I left it alone. Some fellows now want to pay a handsome sum for its use. Meanwhile, a magazine next to me has an article I wrote. Another article is going to press, and each carries with it its own handsome check. I’m working on at least one, maybe two more. Funny how the Lord has always created these side opportunities to have one foot on a cloud and one foot in the mud.

7) What’s would fit best with your idea of a romantic night? Rose petals? A thousand tea lights? We should do a night using nothing but candlelight and firelight. I turned out all the lights in the house tonight and used just candles.

8) Listen to this song and remind yourself it’s all going to be okay…until I can be there to tell you so myself.

Goodnight my dear.
Beren

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

Sundry Thoughts for October, Part III

23. Svabinsky, Max - The Confluence of Souls, 1896Dear Darling,

1) I forgot about you today. Don’t be upset, I pretty much forgot about myself for a while too. When you’re absorbed with and orbiting around the lives and hurts and pains of the ailing, you can easily forget about yourself, immersed in the problems of others. It’s  probably a good feature for someone aspiring to be a servant of Christ. And anyway, it’s just that much cheerier when my mind finally comes to its senses and remembers you. I can see myself making my way through the cold to the car, being warmed by the very thought that a warm house, meal and smile are waiting for me. It’s the kind of thought that pierces any gloom. But today the gloom remained unpierced, even if I do like a stiff overcast day.

2) It’s funny how so many things can be going right, even while you feel like they’re going so wrong.

3) I don’t feel like it’s okay to be weak in front of people, but I need a little help tonight. A shameless, pitying “there there.” A shoulder to cry on. I guess I wind up wanting that a lot, don’t I. But I know, that’s not what men are supposed to want. This cloak of anonymity allows me to be emotional; the words cry for me. But that’s not what you look for in a man, that’s not what’s expected of me. You may say you want to see your man’s frailties, but in reality a man that is stable and strong, always there for you, always a pillar of support, never buckling and always giving is something you’d like. And when I was driving home today, even though it all seemed to be going wrong, my mind turned to you, and how it would be the proper act of self-discipline to turn aside from all my so-called cares and focus only on yours.

But if you want the scoop, the insider’s tip on how to help me, here you go: push past my aversion to being focused on. Just as I would seek to conceal my troubles in deference to yours, push past my self-taught instinct to gloss over my troubles and show me you really care about mine. I’m afraid it doesn’t take very much to make me want to unburden, once someone shows me they care. I’ll need you to control me. On those nights when my soul runs wild, on those days when I overstress myself, when I fret overmuch about the world and its schemes. When I get out of control and work too hard, you may have to reign me in. I’m not sure I can instruct you more beyond that. I’ve spent only 8 of the last 62 hours asleep, The rest of them were spent mostly on work and school.

4) You know how often I’ve said I hope you’re waiting for me. I think there are limits to that. What I mean is, don’t wait for me too hard. You should live your life. Learn about yourself. Make friends. Find hobbies, learn skills. Even…even go on dates. If for nothing else than to see what society has to offer, so I look even better when I come along. (Wink)

5) A quote I read tonight, offered without commentary: “Oh darling, you will be good to me won’t you? Because we’re going to have a strange life.” – Hemingway, “A Farewell to Arms”

6) Have I ever told you about that night I read a nurse’s mind? I doubt it, because it only happened a couple of nights ago. You see, there comes a witching hour between two and four in the morning, when nurses find themselves with little to do but gather to talk. They share the most startling of thoughts, truths and disclosures here; very little is off the table. A proper gentleman might ought to walk away from such secrets, but then, would the servant of Christ shun an opportunity to be His voice for the sake of propriety? (I am afraid, though, that despite my best efforts, my mind is very accustomed to being present for the discussion of ungentlemanly things.) The topic was relationships. (A classic choice.) One nurse told of her fiancee. Another shared her cynical opinion on romance, although subconsciously confiding that she still longed for it. A third merely said she didn’t wish to discuss her love life. After a couple of questions which revealed she had a long-term boyfriend, awkward silence ensued. The unspoken is often much more telling, and I gazed silently at her as I mulled her reluctance. Finally she asked why I was looking at her that way. I told her I was formulating her background in my head. Intrigued, she insisted I share, so I told her that from the little she’d said, I could tell she was in a rocky patch with her boyfriend, but that it was nothing new, was typical of the problems they’d had for years, and so unlikely to change, and in light of that she was weighing the odds of whether or not she wanted to stick with it. Startled, she said that was pretty much exactly it, and asked how I knew. I shrugged it off, but then realized shortly after that this was something God had revealed to me. And if it was, then the glory belonged to Him and not to me at all. “Tell me that again?” she asked soon after while in a patient’s room, and pressed me again on their source. Giving God the glory sounds hackneyed and hokey at times, but I told her sometimes God just shows me things. She later said she wanted to think of more deep questions to ask me because I seemed to have answers. I told her I didn’t, but knew the One who did. It was a very poignant experience in retrospect, one which I wouldn’t share with many I know to avoid boasting, but it was strange to carry that revelation (or was it merely simple deduction?) and the ability to shine for my King to the extent someone wanted to know more.

7) The same nurses pressed me on my relationships, and why they were so rare. Strangely, I have grown to where I dislike discussing my standards, or why I am still alone, not through lack of comfort but because experience tells me they will not understand. Inevitably, I begin to suspect some of them are weighing their odds of connecting with me. I shared that waiting was a precious virtue of mine, and one I sought in someone else. But I realized later that I need to stop talking about it, even when asked. It makes people feel guilty. Truthfully, I’ve come to a difficult conclusion: God doesn’t give you any brownie points for waiting. It doesn’t make me any more special, and I’m not even sure it makes God that proud — especially if the sentiment carries with it the presumption of finding the same gift in another. I don’t regret my choice, but as I think about it, the culture has changed on such a fundamental level that such things are fine by societal standards, and the best you can hope for is that people own up to them as “mistakes” for which they’ve forgiven themselves. A man who hopes for more is an anachronism.

That’s just what I am. A man out of his time.

8) I think exhaustion from love will be about the best kind there is. Don’t you?

Love,
Beren

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Loneliness | , , , , | Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day Special: Imagine the Fire

Flaming Passion

“And on nights like this, when my blood runs riot
With the fever of youth and its mad desires,
When my brain in vain bids my heart be quiet,
When my breast seems the centre of lava-fires,
Oh, then is the time when most I miss you,
And I swear by the stars and my soul and say
That I will have you and hold you and kiss you,
Though the whole world stands in the way.”

Dear Darling,

Happy Valentine’s Day.

No really. I know it may not be happy now, when you’re a party of one on a day meant for two. (I hope you’re not spending it with someone else!) I’m sure it gets harder for both of us with each passing year. But I wish for it to be happy nevertheless.

This year, rather than wallow in the musings of self-pity, I thought I would give you a gift. The gift of imagination. I want to use the power of these letters to offer you a glimpse of my vision for the future, for how awesome it’s going to be one day. I’ve been working on this letter for three months, so I hope you like it.

First, tell me something: How much imagination do you think is okay? Before we meet or marry, is it okay to fantasize about our married life? Is it okay to reminisce about the future today, and relish the treasures yet to come? How often do we dare let ourselves broach the topic, how much banter is permissible….how much fire can your mind play with before a line is crossed?

I have a good imagination. I’ve had thoughts (and dreams) that might make you blush. I know that one day we’ll seal ourselves in covenant, forever freeing us to dance in the flames, and until then, it’s hard. Thinking about it (sometimes) makes it easier. I think any race is easier when you know there’s a finish line.

It’s okay to look forward to that…even to get excited about it.

I think it’s the freedom I’m looking forward to the most. The ultimate license, the absolute liberty to release every inhibition, caution, reservation and warning we’ve ever had…inhibitions about time and touch and love and romance and intimacy and propriety and sex.

Oh darling! Can either of us even begin to conceive of the freedom of kissing, touching, hugging, caressing, making love whenever we want? It will be like nothing else. No strings attached! Guiltless, fearless! It will be an experience to cherish. There’ll be no shame. We’ll be proud of each other. You’ll be able to take pride in being worth waiting for, and pride in your man for waiting! You won’t be competing with any other experiences or memories, and neither will I. We can enjoy each other just for being ourselves. One partner, no worries. It will be a celebration. Our whole wedding day will be, and as flustered and surreal as that will be, underneath will be the fires of passion and anticipation, a quivering, eager expectancy.

If you look at me, you might see steam. If I looked at you, I’d probably see stars.

Oh, and Darling, I want it to be the best! I want hundreds of tea lights, chocolates and rose petals. I want soft music, dim lights and silk sheets. And yes, I intend to have spent more than a few weeks at the gym. (Nothing but the best for my bride.)

I think I know how it will start. Of course we’ll both be nervous. Maybe even shaking. Each step beyond the borders of the formerly taboo will be furtive, but I daresay hunger will compel us. I’m sure there will be plenty of kissing. You might run your hands through my hair. But at some point, if you’re willing, you’ll have to let me take over, take you by the hand as we cross that threshold, to take our place in the book of love. It will be time to awaken your senses and excite them. I’ll kiss not just your mouth, but your eyelids, your forehead, your ears and the soft skin at the base of your throat. Our eyelashes will tickle each other to meet. We’ll feel chills and pulses as our foreheads meet, and you’ll thrill and shudder as I kiss your bare shoulders. I’ll take a rose and trace the lightest touch over every inch of your body, with lips to follow. Such rapturous vulnerability…it will terrify and thrill.

They say most don’t get it right the first time. I plan on trying. Lack of experience doesn’t mean lack of knowledge; I know to go slow. But ultimately, I suspect we’ll want each other so badly that neither of us will be disappointed. Still, I want to put you first. I want you to have a secret that you can’t tell anyone, or maybe you’ll tell a close friend or two — that you suspect no one ever loved a woman like your man. I want your eyes to roll back, your neck to arch, your toes to curl and the hairs on your neck to stand on end. I want to make you forget about time and life and fear and yourself and even us. I want to transcend the physical and unleash a blissful torrent of ecstasy straight to your brain, a seismic reverberation taking you places you’ve never been before, a flaming rush of senses that feel so good you wonder if it’s even right. I want you to lose yourself in the moment, your brain to go blank, not even knowing you’re making the noises you are. I want you to come back to yourself drained, grateful and amazed. All of this and more I wish to do for my darling, my beloved Luthien, simply because she deserves it.

Nothing in our public life, our dreary waking existence could ever prepare us for such euphoria.

Hours later, we can spend the rest of the night, talking for hours, giggling gently, touching each other’s noses and asking all the questions we’ve wondered, about what it’s like to be a man or a woman, learning about each other and exploring, fervently laying bare whatever secrets are yet unlearned. The burden of being forbidden will lift, and we can bare not just our bodies but our souls before each other. Finally, exhausted and tranquil, we can drift off to dream in each other’s arms.

Imagine the morning after. Things will be peaceful and still, just as they are after any fire. Imagine your consciousness rising to the surface, when you first become aware but before your eyes even open, when the thought explodes inside your brain: “I’m married! I’m his wife! I belong to him, and he belongs to me!” Those are the moments that make every pain in life worthwhile…waking and finding only love and hunger, renewed and washing over us, heedless of care and worry. Moments when you want to jump up and run around, uncontrollable joy bubbling up as we dance and laugh and embrace, because our waking world is finally better than our dreams. Maybe I’ll wake up before you. If I do, I’ll wake you up with a kiss. You pick where.

Breakfast and some encore performances will be in order, don’t you think?

And that’s just the first night! You might recall, I’d like to honeymoon on a private island. Imagine yourself there now. The doors are open and a warm tropical breeze wafts through the house to rustle the curtains and caress our bodies. It’s day three of our island vacation. Maybe later we can take the boat out for a spin around the island, or take a dip in the ocean. We’ve come back and showered off (nudge nudge, wink wink) and in the process of satisfying one appetite, we’ve worked up an appetite for dinner. So we head to the kitchen for dinner — grilled seafood. (If you like seafood?) If you like, I’ll feed you the whole meal.

Then the sun goes down, and we keep the lights off. Maybe there’s a veranda, and I can light some torches, to give us the primal luminescence of firelight. We can cuddle in a reclining chair built for two and tenderly read each other poetry, or our letters. We can dreamily share more stories of our lives as our fingers trace little patterns on each other. We can take a walk on the beach, sit on a knoll and watch the moonlight. (Remind me we need to go when there’s a full moon.)

Darling, we’ll be making up for for 25-30 years of virginity, and while I see no reason not to try that first night, we’ll have the rest of our lives to satisfy and reward each other. Take the first year for example. Aha, that first year…! I think people are going to be whispering behind our backs about that one. We’ll be late to work, and sleep-deprived. We’ll develop code words to whisper at parties, which will find us both leaving early. Did I say words? Who needs words? One of us will just give a glance and suddenly the air around us is sizzling and we’ll have to make our goodnights. I probably wanted you the moment you walked out in that dress.

Things are going to be hazy and dreamy and wonderful. The ultimate intimacy, the communion of souls. Oneness.

There will be things we’ll both be excited to try. We can be discreet, but daring. We can make overnight trips for the weekend, or go camping and spend late-night romps in a tent or around a campfire. We can wake each other up in the most delightful ways. We can be risque, and inappropriate. So many people seek to be “good in bed.” I don’t want to be good in bed…I want us to be good in bed. By listening, and putting you first, I hope to be all you could ever hope for in a man.

The problem is, I want you right now. I want to make out with you. Like, seriously. I just want to forget everything and let go, both of us caught up in a kiss that ignites fireworks in our brains, that sets our hearts racing, our heads spinning, our blood pumping, our neurons firing wildly. There’s going to be that animal magnetism  primeval and raw. The shackles aren’t loosed yet! For a while, we’ll fear to be alone because we can’t trust ourselves. We’ll have to guard each others hearts if we ever want to arrive at that night without being ashamed.

There will come a day we’ll have to meet to talk about this…after we’ve promised to marry, we’ll meet — in public — to discuss your expectations and mine. What we each should wear, how we’ve always imagined it, what our expectations will be. Would you like to remove your wedding dress and tuck it away? Or would you like me take care of that for you? Will you wear something daring — either black or red — for me?

Luthien, my love, you’re the only thing that keeps me waiting. Come to me soon. We have some dreams to get started on.

Until then, happy Valentine’s Day my fiery darling. I mean that with all of my heart.

With love and fire,
Beren

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Anticipation, Holidays, Our Wedding, Promises, Purity | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How Can I Wait?

Waiting

“How can I wait until you come to me?
The once fleet mornings linger by the way,
Their sunny smiles touched with malicious glee
At my unrest; they seem to pause, and play
Like truant children, while I sigh and say,
How can I wait?

How can I wait? Of old, the rapid hours
Refused to pause or loiter with me long;
But now they idly fill their hands with flowers,
And make no haste, but slowly stroll among
The summer blooms, not heeding my one song,
How can I wait?

How can I wait? The nights alone are kind;
They reach forth to a future day, and bring
Sweet dreams of you to people all my mind;
And time speeds by on light and airy wing.
I feast upon your face, I no more sing,
How can I wait?

How can I wait? The morning breaks the spell
A pitying night has flung upon my soul.
You are not near me, and I know full well
My heart has need of patience and control;
Before we meet, hours, days, and weeks must roll.
How can I wait?

How can I wait? Oh, love, how can I wait
Until the sunlight of your eyes shall shine
Upon my world that seems so desolate?
Until your hand-clasp warms my blood like wine;
Until you come again, oh, love of mine,
How can I wait?”

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox

February 12, 2013 Posted by | Poems | , , , , | Leave a comment

To She Who Did Not Wait

“The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself, it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity:
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.”

It’s not easy to write this. But I must. I feel like I owe you this, an explanation.

It’s hard for me to see through your eyes. You’ve walked other paths and learned different lessons. You’ve known love before, or what you call love. You’ve known kisses, and the night’s embrace. I’ve never even known the touch of lips against mine.

Were I to see through your eyes, I am certain I would feel hurt, condemned and rejected to be told purity is a condition of my love. But if you look through mine, would you feel any different than I?

You’ve appeared in my life as different people now. Each time, I am tempted to allow my longing for a love and a relationship overcome my higher longings for purity.

“Oh la!” you say laughingly. “I’ve already been there. It’s not so important once you get there!”

Maybe not. But every time I remember that you gave everything you are to another man, and allowed him to know you and hold you before me, I am crushed and heartbroken. Not important? Nor indeed is air while you are breathing it, until you take it away.

Oh sweet and fallen woman, couldn’t you have waited a little longer? Why couldn’t you? Don’t you see we could have had it all? How close you came…how close! Now every thought is poisoned by the knowledge that I would have to share your mind and strive to redeem your memories. You gave your heart away, and although I give you mine whole and unbroken, I would have to accept only what remains of yours. It is an unbearable contemplation.

It hurts, it almost literally hurts. They say Davy Jones cut out his own heart to remove the pain. Maybe now I know why.

Can’t you see? You started without me. You began the journey that should have been ours. I can never experience those first few moments where we take each other’s hands and step though the doorway and take our place in the book of love. I must walk them alone to catch up. I’m left resentful, cheated, and condemned to walk alone the one path I can’t ever abide exclusion from, forever a step behind you. I don’t want to be taught by you; I want us to take those first few awkward steps of discovery together. Is it a love so ungracious that it dares ask for everything?

It isn’t as though I’m unforgiving; I choose not to be in the position of one who has to forgive. I would not begin our life together mourning that loss which is so permanent, so irrevocably final. Do you fault me for being unkind? Can you forgive when I cannot? One First does our Lord give us in all of eternity. Another man has yours; you gave him something you can never give me. That is a devastating thought. Don’t think me unkind for thinking it.

I feel as if it cheapens my gift, the gift you cannot return. It cheapens the long years I’ve been waiting, and would render my promises in vain.

One easy solution would be to treat my gift as lightly as you did. Then I could no longer hold this against you; the great barrier would then be breached. What then? Having not waited, you could hardly hold it against me if I didn’t! But I did. I made sacred promises, to abide by the word of God. I will not renounce them. Though, I am nearly alone in this decision; few now remain who serve God over self.

You say I have no idea how strong that desire can be. Indeed! Do you think a man doesn’t know of such feelings? Do you suppose I haven’t felt the heat of flames? That fate has not tempted, that the evil one has not given me chances? God in His mercy grants me the strength to resist, at the cost of my loneliness, sorrow and tears.

“No one is perfect,” they say. “You mustn’t judge.” Of the billions of souls that walk the earth, am I not allowed to ask only one to share such fierce convictions, both to me and God? The problem is not mine; why must character isolate?

Eternity goes two directions. It holds both the past and the future. I stand ready to give you my past as well as my future. I give you the exclusive devotion of the years gone by as well as years yet to be. Is it so harsh to ask for the same?

It’s so very hard, because I know you wish you hadn’t, and I know you want someone like me to love you. My heart fills with sadness. You came close to ending the drought of this soul, and I wish I could have ended yours. I could have granted your wishes, soothed your pain, kissed away your cares. But we all choose the paths we take, and must live with the consequences. Don’t think I do not grieve at such consequences, or at such parting.

God forgives and removes our sin, but not the memory of it; and no one forgets their first love.

I can’t share you, not even with the past. It hurts too much, oh, far too much.

I can’t change what has been, but neither can I accept it.

I’m sorry. I tried.

December 10, 2011 Posted by | Other Letters | | 13 Comments