On Bowing Down

We got to keep Duke (“6 almost 7″) and Veda (4, “Shouldn’t you already know that?”) for two weekends.  Jill charted two endurance courses: meals, swimming, shopping, splash pad #1, playground, Monsters Inc. twice since they transformed Life.Church for At The Movies on that theme, maybe sleeping, church, coffee shops, splash pad #2, naps and home.

I think I love having them until I compare myself to Mimi, who is juiced beyond belief.  I make funny games, listen to them gossip, pontificate on arcane minutiae, and become self-aware.   Twice Duke replayed the “You are not allowed to touch my privates” speech.  Then, maybe ten minutes later, he called me to the restroom to wipe his bottom after going #2.

Tempted to replay that I should not touch him, Mimi’s look-of-death froze the thought in inaction.  True self-awareness awaits further work.

Somewhere in a blur of making blueberry pancakes (thirteen grain); Duke asked, “When did you bow down to Mimi?”

He caught my blank face.

Duke, “You DID bow down to Mimi, right?”

I now looked at Mimi, my wife and girlfriend, and she realized Duke had seen photos in our little digital photo frame over by the toys, and in those photos, a somewhat grainy Colt knelt before Claire one night at the Botanical Gardens.  He was asking her to marry him.

She said “Yes”, ergo Duke, Nova and Veda.

So I told him I bowed down to Mimi at the North Pole on the map of the world in the old Dallas Love Terminal, and she said “Yes”.  Yes.  I bowed down to her.

I thought later I should add, “And when she met my family and still kept me, and when your dad was born, and when her first horse died and we lost a baby between the boys, and when I served in ministry and we always had more month than money.”

Then I thought to add, “And this morning because she loves you, worked two days to prepare this weekend, enriches my life, keeps up with a zillion people, paints beautifully, cares for animals, and is funny, witty and reads.”

Now I have to wait until he returns with his mom and dad, and I should bow down more often, and say so.


Love Field North Pole

37 years ago.  Love Field, Dallas Texas — people pulling carry ons, saying hellos and good byes on a Friday afternoon while a Southwest Air stewardess places a pewter tray with a pewter chalice on the North Pole of the world map in the huge foyer, and then Paula (Rader) Wims places a diamond ring under the chalice and stands guard.

Cold water in the chalice awaits a blindfolded cowgirl on the arm of her soon-to-be fiancé as they draw closer, and Paula disappears to a distance to watch and not intrude.

He kneels, and says, “You can open your eyes, now.”

Jill Kathleen opens her eyes and takes it all in, and then looks down to take in me down on one knee, the tray, the chalice, the echoing vast space and people walking by to casually take in the turning point in our life together.

We had both read, A Severe Mercy by Sheldon VanAuken, and were struck by the VanAukens’ intimacy, tragedy, and reminder that all time is fleeting.  From that book, I asked, “Do you want a cup of cold water?”   For Sheldon and Davy, it was proper to ask for a cup of cold water in the night, and proper to go fetch it for the one asking.

Jill said, “No.”  She holds so many ways of insuring that we go off-script.

I returned, “Think about it.”  She did.  She picked up the chalice — looking for a ring in the cup.  It was not there.  She sipped.  She stooped to place it back on the tray and there in the middle of the tray was my ring, her ring, that ring.

She gasped.   Picked it up, and put it on her finger.  She admired it and turned back to me.

I then said, “I do not love you as the Number One in my life, but because of Who I love as Number One, my Number Two will be better than most guys Number One.”

So sitting in Life.Church this morning to hear Craig Groschelle talk about prioritizing our marriages in our lives just behind God I laughed when he said, “God is Priority One and your spouse is Priority Two.”

In all hubris I smiled at the cowgirl sitting next to me and got misty eyed.  Flooding in to me came a myriad of times that I failed her as my priority, selfishly abused it, wanted it without continually earning it, and yet.  And yet, she sat next to me, the ring, that ring on her finger.  And she was smiling.

If not for grace, the conundrum that is Christianity would be completely out of reach for us mortals.  And I got misty eyed again.