Gratitude, Curiosity, and the Spirit

At precisely this time, 48 years ago, I was running some last-minute errands  in preparation for our wedding, which would be happening later at 3:00 pm,  December 14, 1974. I was at the store with a friend trying to find a blue garter (what a stupid tradition that was). Wyndham was playing a game of flag football with friends. What else would a groom do on his wedding day? I had just finished my last final of the quarter the day before (the UF used quarters rather than semesters). I had little time for wedding prep, as I had taken a heavy load of 22 hours to finish my studies early to move to join Wyndham. I had seen him once since our engagement in July, as he had moved to North Carolina to begin a new ministry. Though we wrote to each other often, we talked every other week. Long-distance calls were costly. I was a student and he was making 7k per year. (No worries, we got an increase to nearly 9k/year after we married. 🙂 We had to be creative for sure.) This would be my last day ever living in Gainesville, Florida. I would marry and permanently move away from my hometown. Two days later, I would see my first snow.

As I reflect on the precious years I had with my beloved husband, the main emotion I feel is gratitude. So much gratitude. Life wasn’t always easy, but the love and life we shared were beautiful. The last painful years during Wyndham’s illness were rich and precious, though incredibly difficult and even traumatic. I hold them as sacred. Wyndham will always be part of me…it would be impossible for it to be otherwise, and I am grateful he is forever part of me. But life is now quite different.

Three words that best describe my current state of being are gratitude, curiosity, and Spirit. I feel grateful and in awe of the beauty of creation. I feel grateful for the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience,… These are gifts from God. I cannot manufacture them. And what amazing gifts these are. Who else but God can give these?! I am grateful for daily food and water (especially combined with coffee beans) and so much more…so many blessings. I am grateful for my family and my friends. The relationships with my children and their families fill me with inexpressible joy. I love my cozy home and a place to stay warm. I love water, mountains, and sunsets. I’m thankful for animals…especially my Golden buddy, Denver. I’m grateful for the senses God gives me and for words and books and imagination. (I hope next week to share books read in 2022 and gleanings from a few of them.)

I love to learn. I understand more than ever before how much I do not know and cannot ever understand, and yet I long to learn more. The more I learn, the more amazed I become with God. I learn through life experiences, reading, observation, conversations with others, remembering, mistakes, listening more closely than I used to, and by making space to hear and experience God through His Spirit in my life. I value and am thankful for my deep dive into spiritual formation as I enter the final year of my doctoral program. I’m also learning through a Christian coaching certification program. I’m amazed at all there is to learn. I am grateful for curiosity. More than ever, I am gobsmacked (I often think of this word for astonishment as “God-smacked”…in the best way….as if God is saying, “Hey, do you even see what I am doing here?”) that God not only sent Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us…But, gave His Spirit as God in us. A reality, not a metaphor. To know that God became human so I could share His divinity is mind-boggling. This transforming reality requires serious thought and meditation.

So today, I thank you, Wyndham, for our shared precious memories. Little did I know what would lie ahead 48 years ago, but there is no one with whom I would have rather shared 45  of those years. Thank you, God, for always being not only by my side, but inside. I hold on to precious memories, but today, though my eyes may mist a time or two,  they make me smile in gratitude. And stay curious, my friends…marveling and relying on God within.