It is mistletoe in the upper branches of an old water maple tree that grows near my yard. The bunch of green grows where nothing else does in the deep of winter. The season that hangs heavy around us.
And it reminds me . . .
A tall young man, muscular and strong, walked with me, just a young woman, to the back of property owned by my uncle, Sam Rayhill, Jr. It was just fields and high weeds and a few trees, a place for a courting couple to be together in the outdoors that seemed a bit of Heaven on earth for those who are young and falling in love.
We spied the mistletoe in the top of a tree that day. It was nearing Christmas, and wouldn’t fresh mistletoe be wonderful to hang in my mother and dad’s house, already decorated with reds and greens?
I’d never seen real living mistletoe before. But how to get it out of that tall tree in the uppermost branches? The tall young man borrowed my pellet gun, and we walked back to that tree. He aimed with an eye trained to hit the target. The bullet struck its mark, a piece of the mistletoe fell to the ground, and I thought he was just wonderful.
I gathered the green plant and took it to our house. We hung it with some ribbon. And we kissed underneath it.
Now, forty plus years later, life has taken its toll on that tall young man. He has suffered much, grown weary at times with too many illnesses and too many surgeries. Yet . . . he is still the one and only love of my life. He is my hero, my friend. After all these years, I still think he is so handsome. And he tells me I am beautiful. He will always make my heart thrill. Today we celebrate 40 years of marriage.
We are two who have beaten the odds to remain as one.
We almost lost this precious gift of love, of covenant promised long ago. Once I held papers in my hand that read, “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage” and I cried, uncontrollable, inconsolable, unable to breathe. I had never wanted that. Neither did he. But there seemed to be no other solution. Too much pain and too many hurtful words. Too many misunderstandings and too much anger and too much pulling away. Too much dysfunction.
How did we manage to salvage what was so broken and beyond repair?
There is no other explanation except that God will have compassion on whom He will have compassion, as He told Moses on the mount when He revealed to him His glory (Exodus 33:19). God’s glory announces “I AM” when He pours out compassion and mercy on souls so undeserving. Souls like us.
And we were soaked, drenched, plunged into the glory.
Sweet William and I will rejoice in this milestone of our lives. It will not be picture perfect this year. No fine restaurant, no trip to the Bahamas, no sparkling gemstone in a setting of gold.
But we will celebrate nevertheless. How can we not? We who believed have seen the glory of God (John 11:40).
The glory that picks up the pieces of shattered lives, that puts brokenness back together while leaving the scars.
The glory that restores what the locusts had eaten and destroyed only to gives life in its place.
The glory of love renewed from Love Himself.
The glory of covenant kept and of legacy passed to the next generation and the next.
The glory of grace.
I love you, Sweet William. Happy Anniversary.