lenten journal: adventure


I am writing late tonight because I have been at a wedding.

The daughter of church friends got married this evening. Several weeks ago, they contacted me about baking pies for the wedding. They didn’t want a cake. Instead they wanted individual mini pies—equal amounts of key lime and chocolate chess. We came up with the idea of using small mason jars for the key lime pies and I baked the chess pies in muffin tins. Yesterday I baked one hundred and ten pies. Here they are before the wedding crowd hit the dessert table.pies

The ceremony was unusual and meaningful. The couple had worked with the minister, who was the bride’s uncle, to create a special moment. They invited us on a metaphorical journey from

darkness to
light to
awareness to
love to
relationship to

At each step along the way they had quotes and poems and a vow they made to each other, building to their exchange of rings and pronouncement. When the minister said they were husband and wife, the bride bounced in anticipation of their kiss. It was a beautiful moment.

Early on in the ceremony as he talked about darkness, the minister said, “What is dark is not empty—if you know how to see there is mystery. It was then I thought of my word for today:

adventure: daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm.

His sentence took me back to the words of Chuck Raymo, who used to write a science column for the Boston Globe and has several books about seeing in the dark as an astronomer. Raymo says once he learned how many stars there were in the sky he wondered how there could be any darkness. Then it hit him: the light just hasn’t gotten here yet.

Annie Dillard says if you want to see the stars you have to go sit in the dark. If you know how to see there is mystery.

Tomorrow is the beginning of March. When April comes, Ginger and I will celebrate twenty-five years of marriage. I think back to April 21, 1990 and see we had little idea of what our life together would hold. We knew we were moving to Boston, but not much was defined beyond that, other than we knew we were going together into whatever mystery there might be. Durham was nowhere on the radar.

I think about our quarter century and I want to go back and supplement the sentence I heard tonight. It’s not just about thinking the dark is empty; we can feel that way about the daylight as well, about the everydayness of existence: when the morning light comes streaming in, we get up and do it again. Amen. In both daylight and dark, we need to know how to see if we are going to engage the mystery. As Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only those who see take off their shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.

We don’t have to be in faraway places or doing exotic things to find adventure. The dailiness of existence calls for enterprise and enthusiasm if we are to see the mystery. If we are to live life together our eyes and our hearts must be open everyday as we carry our griefs, share our joy, and catch each other by surprise.



Leave a Reply