foreigners

...the fig tree:When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
1. anticipating my own adventure

As I'm sure I've said before, my longing for summer makes spring my favorite season. Drippy though Oregon Aprils are, they offer previews of extended daylight, aromatic flora, and unencumbered shady afternoons in a lawn chair reading. (I can dream, anyway, about time for books in the backyard--we'll see if this year allows for such things.)

What I'm mostly looking forward to right now is a June trip to New York to visit Victoria, Alex, and Edmund (who's almost two). I'm a little nervous about being such a foreigner to my grandson. He hugged me as we said goodbye last August, but for him that was eons ago.

Lately I ponder, as well, the foreignness between people living together. Tim and I have a lot in common, but we are also exceedingly different. My bent for anticipation and savoring often bumps into Tim, who by comparison charges past me, plugging in and unplugging the modules of his existence.

If we were traveling together this summer there would be many short trips to plan and accomplish during the week in and near NYC. One reason Tim isn't going is the funds don't exist for us to do things. All I can expect is to hang out with people, which is precisely my desire. To enter into their world, take each moment as it happens. Of course I'll be learning Victoria and Alex's schedule and doing things with them, like going to their church, maybe grocery shopping, folding laundry. I expect I will babysit a time or two.

Tim hard at work on a security light for a house our church owns.
There isn't a thing wrong with Tim's way, his event supervision. If, for example, we both were in New York, planning to visit a museum, and Victoria and Alex's refrigerator broke, Tim would alter the schedule, visit parts stores, make the repairs. My husband takes life in at a glance, understanding physical needs and caring for people. I, on the other hand, will be clueless if anything breaks down, unable to diagnose. I can hold a toddler's hand for a long walk, but I can't process the unexpected until long afterward.

2. this faith adventure, separately together

It was Tim who first recognized, when we went with Victoria to her Orthodox church, that here existed something he as a believer had been seeking his whole life. He proceeded to explore, to learn, to listen, and to probe. There was no holding back on his part and no restraining him. His launch into the foreign wasn't because it was different, but rather because he saw something compelling, and he had to know more. This is my husband.

Back then I, of course, thought Tim was seeing things. He after all has been mistaken more than once. I've grudgingly let TV series run there courses that he enjoyed and I loathed. These days radio talk shows he listens to for hours drive me batty. Not that I can't see value there somewhere, but for me the problems outweigh any goodness.

Tim and I traveled to this Orthodox "country" from very different points of origin. For me things started with a slow examination, followed by an extended entering in, absorbing, until finally recognition has dawned, and it continues to grow, to build.

On a spring morning after Matins.
I follow Tim inside the church's back door--he has his key out, ready, holding it briefly til I catch up, then he's off to lower bell ropes, check the service books, turn on the speaker system he installed. I wander inside more slowly, pausing to inhale, to observe anew.

My mind and heart linger over scripture passages, people, and the teaching woven throughout the prayers and services. There is a single, momentous thing pervading all aspects of this life that at first seemed so foreign. It is that single thing to which we each draw near, differently, missing notes and fumbling something, somehow every time. But toward each of us love's welcome keeps shining. Even from the demeanors of other foreign bodies rotating fumblingly with us, experiencing another spring.

Every facet rings true to the one thing, exuding freedom with the love. Though it can be rejected, this is a rescue story. Every aspect of what we travel in and to together in its own way glimmers, like the depths of Tim's gaze, like a blessing.

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