Starry Night and Year 26
“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalms 143:8
“If I could handwrite this in a beautiful script or paint a picture of our silhouette as we age with these words, I would. Instead, I am quoting Ann Voskamp, “There’s an old love that sees with a kind of holy double vision — that remembers a young lover in all their seeming infallibility and sees your aged lover in all their beautiful humanity.” That’s what I see in you and in us!” I wrote a few more words, hit send, and the message, bouncing off few satellite towers, reached my husband’s office. I sat pondering Ann Voskamp’s words in her latest book “Waymaker” and how they impacted my marriage. Hope flooded my soul as I recognized that we were safe in God’s loving arms.
Terry and I celebrated our 26th Anniversary on Saturday. We went to the Van Gogh immersive exhibit in Washington DC with Indian food for lunch. Walking through the exhibit we learned that Van Gogh saw colors differently than the average person. Some have attributed this to a medication’s side effects, others believe it might have been a rare form of color blindness, and still others believe it was his understanding of color theory mixed with his genius creativity. Whatever the case, Van Gogh’s life was complicated with psychotic episodes, bouts of deep depression, and stays in the psychiatric ward. Despite these major setbacks, Van Gogh manage to paint some of the most vivid, masterful paintings of all time. His series of Sunflower paintings are arguably some of most recognizable art pieces in the world. The juxtaposition of the bright sunflowers in a vase with the ending of his life by suicide seems hard to understand. It is hard to hold all the brightness of the sunflowers with the darkness that was engulfing Van Gogh internally.
As he painted Starry Night, Van Gogh said, “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” It’s easy to look at darkness and see no color. But if you let your eyes get acclimated to the darkness, shades of dark blues, greys and greens start to stand out. The flicker of any light source illuminates shadows with depth and complexity. Darkness no longer seems scary or flat. But what is even more amazing is when you see the dark fading away, and the morning sun slowly rises, painting the sky in hues of pink, orange, red, and violet. The dark night juxtaposed against the morning sky makes everything magical and full of possibilities.
All marriages hit points where the bright glow of infatuation wears off. Marriage is two imperfect people with their own pasts and woundings trying to live together and create something new. Sometimes bright colors turn into an ordinary day where you are busy working, getting the dishes done, and crawling into bed, exhausted from child rearing and daily responsibilities. Sometimes marriage hits points of darkness where you can’t grope your way through, and don’t even recognize your hand before your face. These are the times when things seem hopeless.
Four years ago, Terry and I were in a place of darkness. We were still committed to marriage, but both felt hopeless and defeated. It was a place where we allowed our own past wounds to dictate our responses towards each other and towards God. We were tired of trying to fix each other and felt even more hopeless in being able to change our own behavior. The only place we could turn to was God. It was in the darkness that we had created where God did miracles.
The Bible records miracles during all different times of the day and night. Our God is always available. But it is interesting to note the different miracles that happen in those early morning hours. It was in the early morning hours that God delivered Moses and the Hebrews at the Red Sea. It was in the morning Jesus walked on water during the storm. It was in the early morning hours that the broken body of Jesus left an empty tomb, whole and restored to life. These moments were precipitated by what seemed like impossible situations, and then God sweeps in with parted seas, walking towards his disciples, and resurrection! He leads people towards deliverance, safety, and hope.
I can look back and cherish our wedding day. Terry’s smile beaming at me as I walked down the aisle made me believe anything was possible. I can look back at the ordinary days of marriage when we were raising children with a smile, despite some mistakes we made. I can look back at the evening hours where we started to drift, where we got into a cycle of hurting each other with our words and deeds, and still smile because we had some real moments of happiness. And I can look back at the dark moments, grateful for God stepping in, healing us individually, and bringing us back together.
But right now, I feel Terry and I have entered a new morning in our marriage. We are still healing, moving towards wholeness. But right now, the morning light is illuminating a future that is full of mercy and goodness. And I see Terry’s great smile looking back at me, loving me completely in all my aged humanity, and I now know anything is possible!