Marriage Letters: What You Call Holy
When we first met, you were like one melted and poured into a model of holiness, and everybody called you so. You were the good boy, and I hope our four sons follow suit. You commanded rooms, a leader, always doing what was right. You sang your hallelujahs and expected rewards for good behaviors. This is what children are taught, isn’t it?
My coming to you was a record scratching to a halt, and I was no lily-white virgin. All your waiting for purity amounted to what? Your waiting amounted to me, and I had been broken every way and put back together. Even still, somehow, it was grace to you. I was dirty, and I was filled with grace. And maybe you had never seen anything so pure. That’s how you treated me, pure. You have always called me holy.
It was years later that you would come to know your own low. We didn’t start drinking alcohol until we were ages 23 and 25, though I had those years of experience in my teens. We came to call the bottle holy, the freedom. The excuse to finally laugh after working in a sick church, now that was holy.
In 15 years, we misplaced some things, didn’t we? We said, when we make it to 15 years, we’ll go to Europe and drink so much. We’ll taste all the beautiful wine.
Now, holy is the train wreck. Holy are the ashes, the grave, the spin around that potter’s wheel. Holy was the shiver when you gave up the bottle.
40 days and 40 nights, you begged me hold you. Clinging through, we did the holy work of skin on skin. The quiet bearing down became the holy. Holy was the pain of labor. You wrote in your journal every single day for 40 days after you quit drinking. It was your walk into the wilderness.
Now, holy is the wilderness, though we would never have taken ourselves there.
For our 15 year anniversary, we took ourselves to Tuscany, not the wilderness, and at one point there may have been over 100 glasses on our long fellowship table, but your glass was of water. Some desires turn on us and become unholy, but if we look deeper, we see a longing for God. You wanted to drink the wine so much. You could smell it. It hurt so much that you cried, and I couldn’t bear it for you.
But then on our last night, there was a rooftop table set for us above all the olive groves and church bells, all the starlings darting. The setting sun washed us pink. The food kept coming and we had never smiled so big. That laughter was the holy one, the laughter of true communion.
When night subdued us and candles flicked, we decided to pass the bread made by Tuscan hand and the wine whose vineyards spread below us. Each of us served the one to our right. This is the body broken for you. Take and eat. Cup of salvation, poured out for you. Take and drink.
You were last in the circle. You broke the bread and hesitated. Then you took the wine, a metaphor for you through which all other metaphors filter. We were suspended there, in awe of the cup, transforming.
You are the bearer of such terrible and beautiful news. Resurrection is holy. Holy is the new birth.
Whatever wilderness may come, let us always find a way to the cup.
Your drinking partner,
Please join us in writing a letter to your spouse by leaving your permalink below any time this month. To read previous Marriage Letters and topics, read through the archives. Our topic for March is “Absence Makes the Heart.” Obviously we encourage the creativity and story-telling, as well. It’s important to remember your story. Thank you for encouraging us.
Read Seth’s letter to me here. It may be my favorite one yet.