Another Valentine’s Day come and gone and you’re still single.
I’ve been there. I’ve sung the song, I’ve gotten the t-shirt, I’ve ridden the pendulum from humor to bitterness and finally settled into the middle limbo of indifference, a bland yet ever cheerful smile that occupies where desire has yet to be fulfilled. This year I have a new song, and a new shirt- it’s an old, black Harley tee I stole from my husband.
I have this to say:
Little did we know that we would meet and fall in love.
Life was just going on- me going one way, he going another, and we happened to meet for five minutes in a hardware store in a town neither of us had even heard of a year before. I was selling snow shovels, he was buying them. Simple enough.
Little did I know that a year later I would be living in this quiet man’s house, cooking him meals, sharing a friendly tube of toothpaste and a little porcelain sink. Little did he know that he would be subjected to Love and all its symptoms, that his friends would break open with surprise when he introduced the wife who developed from a girlfriend he hadn’t had four months earlier. He was just buying a shovel.
I was just volunteering downtown. Months after the snow had melted and summer was making a dramatic exit by way of Hurricane Irene, we talked for the first time. I had packed my bags and was headed West before she came and stopped my journey, leaving me with two weeks, no job, no plan, no clue. Our small town’s heart was swept away by violent waters which left mud and debris that needed to be cleaned up. I had nothing else to do, and had been inadvertently waiting for a natural disaster to come and change my life, so I donned my work clothes and showed up at 9 o’clock on Saturday morning to rescue antiques from the muddy waters of Nancy Leary’s basement.
He was simply on duty, keeping the curious populace from falling into flooded pits and being crushed by fainting buildings.
Little did I know that his face was soon to become the loveliest sight my eyes could find, or that his calm voice was going to be the music that would soothe me back to sleep after having a nightmare. He couldn’t have had any idea that in the short months ahead our conversations would get longer and longer and longer, that soon I would be sitting at his dining room table at midnight, waiting for him to come home for lunch so that we could talk some more. I said goodbye, turned and left him standing there at the bottom of the hill that first day, not knowing that I should mark this parting, for it was to be one of the very few that came that easily or without some aching deep in me I could barely stand.
How unlikely we were at that moment. Unlikely to meet, unlikely to fall in love, unlikely to marry.
We just didn’t know. There is very little that we mortals *do* know here on this earth, and since meeting Alex, my confidence in that little has lessened considerably. What do we know? Really. What do you know? What do I know of tomorrow or the next day? What do you know but that two weeks from now your life is going to be made complete? What do you know but that the stranger you sold that shovel to, the one you don’t remember- is going to be your husband in less than 12 months. What do you know but that your other half is out there, clueless, wondering, wandering right into your path at any moment. Every minute you are alive is an opportunity, a chance, and you never really know what there is a chance of until you Live. That’s the charm of it. We plan, we fret, we work, we live, we make goals and strive to accomplish them and all the while there is this grand joke being played on us all – it’s not Our Plan that stands. It’s not Our Purpose that stays, is it? In the end- what do we know?
Little did I know that I was three days, one train ticket and an old suitcase away from missing the Love of my Life when that angry storm came and pulled the tracks out from under me. How many times in the years before that moment did the choice at hand seem wrong, the path seem too hard; how often did the questions arise like thick, angry clouds and we felt a little lost, felt unsure or just Out Of Place- and yet we were right In Place. How incredible is that?
And yet, I say, there is no such thing as coincidence. I dare not leave such a close fate as mine in the hands of such a slippery idea. Many things have coincided in my life, and I could be married to the nightclub owner from Berlin who is twice my age, or the farmer who lived on the next hundred acres from where I grew up. You can’t trust coincidence.
You can, however, trust the Planner of all Fates, the Hearer of all Desires, the Great Creative Genius behind my own love story, the only One who truly has any power to make something out of nothing, to bring life from storms, hope from ruin and reality from all our ‘unlikelys’. We like to think we have everything formulated and contained and sterilized and thoroughly understood, we like to think we know whom we would like to marry, or how it will happen, or when. We like to direct God with our prayers, suggesting and desiring only what we can feel and think and hold. Have you ever prayed the words, “Lord- I’m game.”? Have you ever asked Him what HE would like to do with a situation? We like to visualize our lives and then head towards the picture we’ve painted using only the colors that we know well. Step back for just a minute and think about what you truly do know, and then walk on, well-assured that the palette you have to work from is limited, small, finite, color-blind and underestimating to the extreme. God- He is the One to let work, otherwise you are simply living on the little that we know, and that is the surest way to lose a great deal of the wonder, intense beauty and supreme blessing of life.
Little did we know what that day would start…. You don’t know what is going to start with tomorrow’s sunrise, do you?