advent journal: the way it is with love


I will tell it to you as it was told to me.10404142_10100323342261441_6290334583224348449_n

Somewhere early in my day I read these words from my friend Olivia, who lives in Boston. She is someone in love with life who looks for ways to feel connected to the world around her. Here’s what she found:

I spotted this on my drive home tonight. A local golf course was making snow and a young couple parked on the side of the road and ran toward it, holding hands. I watched them run around in the artificial snowing, hearing their laughter and sharing their joy. They ran back out a few minutes later, covered in snow and still holding hands. For that is the way it is with love.

A little later in the day, I received an email message from Maggie, a church friend and another New Englander, who had a story of her own. They had gone to dinner with a couple who have been married for a long time. The husband is in the last stages of cancer and is under hospice care. Though his death doesn’t appear to be immediate, it is imminent. Maggie spoke of eating dinner and then sitting down on the sofa afterwards and then she said:

On her coffee table was a sleigh full of Christmas cards.  The outermost card had a beautifully painted winter woods picture.  She told me the story of an old friend of theirs who is an artist.  Every Christmas he sends a card that is a different one of his paintings.  Sixty-five Christmases — sixty-five cards, and she has them all.  I turned the card over.  On the back it said, “This is our last Christmas card.  We hope you have enjoyed them as much as we have enjoyed sending them.” Sitting there with our friends knowing this is surely their last Christmas; it was sobering to say the least.  But beautiful as well.  She mentioned they had been married sixty-five years as well.  “Sixty-five years, sixty-five cards.”

I imagine the couple in the snow have close to six decades to catch up with the couple who has shared a lifetime together and yet both know something about the way it is with love, from stopping by a golf course on a snowy evening to keeping promises down to the very last day. From somewhere in between those two points, I wrote a song for Ginger some years ago (that has yet to be recorded) that tried to imagine a lifetime from the vantage point of two who had collected only a few years together. The chorus says,

this is the story of two common hearts
that started out young and grew old
they have practiced a lifetime
the waltz of a well-worn love

The trajectory of life moves from beginning to end. In between there is time to chase snowflakes and collect Christmas cards, to make fools of ourselves, hang on for dear life, and think of every possible way we can to say we love one another.

That is the way it is with love.



  1. Milton, this really touches me today. Thank you. And Leah, life is indeed dear and worth the effort of holding on, doncha think? 44 and climbing for us.

  2. Beautiful posts by all. Living alone with my Golden Retriever I am so jealous of those spending this life with that kind of love. And of having to eat alone too often. But I am surrounded by love and feel its reflection in these writings! Thank you.

  3. I love this so much. Your insight, kindness, and generosity have inspired me since I was your student, and they continue to do so still. You are a treasure, Milton, and I am honored to know you and call you my friend.

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