I woke up early this morning, easing out of bed and lacing up sneakers to slip out into the dawn. Down the driveway and onto the road I ran into the early stillness, the mist swirling around the edges of the woods like steam, the air quiet, the broken blacktop empty. I rounded the corner and the fields opened and rolled into the edge of the sky. The sun was just peeking over the trees, a ball of unnaturally deep red, and the richness of the golden green soybeans danced in its slanting light. It was ordinary, and yet astoundingly beautiful, and as I ran, I thought of you. Just down the road, you slept. I wondered what your first thoughts were, on this mind and body and heart filled day. I prayed for your joy and thinking of you, I drank in the stillness. The rest of the day will come, and it will be full, and fast, and beautiful, but it can wait for just a few minutes. Already I can feel the heat burning off what little late summer chill this morning had. Even for all the beauty coming, I would not wish this day on any faster. I would not miss this. Change comes so quickly on its own.
By the time I have run on and turned around to reach this point on the way home, the sun is fully ablaze, high and orange and so bright I can hardly look at the fields, their nuances of color bleached by the daylight. The humidity sits like a blanket and the trees stand motionless in it, bursting with life in their fullest green of the year.
Today you asked us to stand with you and witness, which really is just another way to say to see, and then to tell. In a few hours, these friends that love you will start to come. From hours and states away their cars will pull down this country road and park on the grass. They will walk through the trees and sit in their shade and wait for you. They will come because this day stands as one of the few times we give physical testimony to that which is always true: that we each only have two eyes, and cannot possibly see it all alone. Today you pledge to each other, and we to you, that we are meant to walk together in this beautiful broken world. See into each other’s blindness, be strong in each other’s weakness. It is not good for man to be alone. So as I ran, I prayed to witness well. I prayed for open eyes, to pay attention.
You did not see these morning fields, but in the winter, if ever the snow lasts so long you have forgotten what colors are, I will paint them for you with the words of memory. I will tell how rich they were, how glory giving. When the winds of life blow relentlessly, I will remind you how still the trees stood. How they arched over your vows and stood straight and tall by your side, silently clapping their hands in praise to the giver of all good gifts. We will wonder together at how deep their roots were driven into contentment with the simple that is asked of them. When some of the days are not nearly as perfect as this one, the blueness of the sky replaced by gray and the peals of thunder, I will remind you that sometimes, sunshine is blinding. Sometimes it distorts. Sometimes the most beautiful of colors are only seen as it sets, or plays games of hiding behind trees and clouds. Sometimes it is only in the slanting beams of the hidden light that you can see for the first time clearly all the dust in the air and how it has settled on dreams. And if the sun should ever seem to disappear all together, and you find yourself in that just before dawn dark of all darkness, I will stay up with you in your sleepless fear. We will go outside and wait for the sun to rise. I will remind you that it always does.
It’s late. I ran out of the stillness and into the fullness of this day. We laughed and sang and got choked up and stood and gathered and ate and danced. The light shifted low again and the end of summer corn stretched toward the evening sky. I saw you sneak off for some pictures in its foreground, and I was glad that you captured the beauty. Then we waved you off into this new life and slowly, the rest of the cars disappeared as suddenly and unseen as they had come, this great cloud of witnesses. And now the sun has dropped altogether, just a glow on the edge of the hills, and the stars are out. We sit in darkness together by the pool, exhausted but so sweetly full. Suddenly with clean up finished, shoes off, and hair down, it’s all ordinary again, except richer. We’ve sat here, but never at the end of this day. You’ve never been gone. But I’m thankful that all of this is less a separation as it is a saturation. Two lives have blended to one. Two families are sitting together, their laughter drifting into the quiet evening. When we leave, we hug them truly. Good has been filled with goodness. Life will not always be this simple, the days this perfect, the fellowship this sweet. Beauty will more often be ordinary, but that does not mean it’s not richer. All His paths drip with abundance. And when this world says everything contrary; that life’s hardness cannot be good, that dying to your desires cannot bring life, that stillness cannot be worthwhile, that all that marriage asks cannot possibly make sense…
…walk with me. We’ll go outside and down to the edge of the fields to watch the sun rise, and we’ll tell each other again how beautiful the colors of your covenant were today. How beautiful, in the light of His grace, they always will be.