This Is Love
This passed weekend my husband and I reconnected with some amazing friends we haven’t seen in a while. They have two darling little boys, and we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon relaxing by their pool.
Towards the end of the evening, we adults congregated around the table to chat while the kids played on the lawn. Their boys have this pretty impressive Jeep Power Wheels, and my daughter and their youngest son got in it together.
Among its many amenities, the Jeep had a radio, tuned to the nostalgic sounds of country music, and the littles spent a good half hour sitting together, still in their bathing suits, dancing and listening to tunes while their blonde heads glowed in the setting sunlight.
At one point, they both paused in the middle of it all and looked at each other. Their eyes met in this tender moment, and it was like they were really seeing each other, realizing they were sharing this beautiful moment together. These two tiny, innocent little hearts were bearing witness to all the beauty colliding in that one moment.
Then the moment passed, and they kept on playing.
Nineteen (yikes!) years ago, almost to the day, I went on a date with a quirky, energetic blonde kid I met at church. I think he had all of $10 in his pocket, and barely had enough money to pay for parking and the ice cream I asked for. He was emotionally healthy and stable in a way I didn’t know was possible, especially coming from the instability and chaos of my fragile home life.
We walked around for a while, then sat on one of those benches near the pond in the middle, where the ducks congregate on mounds of plushy, green Korean grass. We talked for hours, probably about our passion for our faith, and our dreams to make a different in the world. We might have made tentative plans, starting to make tiny promises to each other that would turn into big promises later.
I wonder, after seeing the sweet innocence of my daughter with her new friend, if we might have had that same look all those year ago, on that bench in Seaport Village. If someone passing by might have seen the tender innocence on our faces, untainted by the hits and bruises that life would bring our way.
It can be hard to remember that now, when love often seems to get lost in the muck and mire of everyday life, among all the unceasing demands of work and home and family. It’s that sweet innocence that gets lost, and sometimes, the longer the road, the harder it can be to find your way back.
A lot of life has happened since that first date. Most of it has been good, great, amazing. A little bit of it has been hard, and sometimes it’s those little bits that seem to take up the most room.
If I could go back and talk to that young girl sitting on the bench, I’d tell her that it’s going to be hard- harder than she could imagine. That life will make a battle-worn soldier out of her. And that it’ll cultivate a strength in her that will make her proud.
But most of all, I’d tell her to look closely at the face across the table from her, at the hands that are co-creating this life around her. To listen to the voice that returns home with stories of laughter and pain. I’d tell her not to forget that spunky boy she fell in love with. I’d tell her that he’s still right there, and that the journey is just getting started.