to the newlyweds

While Preston and I are on sabbatical for the summer in our letter writing, I thought I would keep up with letters. These, though, are letters with a bit more of my imagined, someday life, and a little bit less of the every day. I wanted to store them up, these daydreams, because even though we should live in the present, there is something to every once in a while glancing out and imagining the horizon.

Dear newlyweds,

I saw your pictures on Facebook the other day, pictures of rings against flowers and book pages, pictures of you staring in amazement at each other, pictures of pinwheels and cakes and dances between you and the hundreds of people who gathered around you to love you.

I saw your pictures and I thought about you. About the work that this is. About the wonder that this is. About how you might be wondering and fearing and rejoicing all at once. I don’t know very much about the world, not now, probably not for many years. I don’t know a thing about marriage except that it is beautiful and difficult and rich with blessings.

Sometimes the blessings feel heavy. Sometimes we don’t know how to be ourselves. We don’t know how to be ourselves AND be one with another person. We don’t know if we can surrender that much, trust that much, stay faithful when we desperately wish to run away. We don’t know what the big step was, exactly, only that together there is more than when we are alone, and together you are something new. Between the showers and the barbeques, between standing in line at the DMV to change your name, between hoping you don’t trip down the aisle or lose the rings or forget the dance steps you both practiced diligently… I wanted to say that what we see, from our pews and from walking down the aisle in borrowed shoes and stiff hair?

We see miraculous love.

We see promises made right on the edge, the edge of who we are and who we are called to become.

We don’t worry about whether your napkins are the right shade of coral or if you missed the double spin. We don’t second guess your choice of cake or how you made the seating chart. We are too caught up in rejoicing that you love this boldly. That you live with a wild love for each other.

I wanted to tell you this because maybe after it all settled down, you still feel the strange surreal heaviness of this new life you’re making together. Maybe after you came home to your apartment or your house, to your boxes and leftover spaghetti, you wondered what we all witnessed, what it is that happened.

We saw the joy, raw, palpable, spilling out of you. My friends and I sometimes joke that there is a flood on facebook of weddings, of matching dresses and clinking glasses. Sometimes we are jealous of you, jealous of what we worry we won’t find, hopeful and fearful all at once. But the secret is that even in that we recognize the heart of what you have done. We love it. We feel the raw joy spilling out over the megapixels and crackling phone lines and from pew to pew.

I am touched and changed because I get to see how you love.

I learn about love because I get to celebrate with you.

Your new marriage, the baby bird of it, helps us remember the feeling of leaping into the unknown and being caught in the wonder of it.

So I pause in my day, in between emails and grant proposals and puzzling out the new work before me to whisper to you: remember that your baby bird marriage is a beacon of love. You shine bright.

Be unafraid of the big work ahead. There is more grace than you can imagine in store for you. Be unafraid of where you go, what you eat, how you burn brownies and fight over jobs or church or money. Be unafraid of it all.
The secret of that big leap is that grace always catches us.

Love,

hilary

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