Guest Post (and photos) by Ann Voskamp
I‘m sitting there on the side of a windblown road, waiting for the Farmer to bring me a jug of gas.
We’ve knocked on a door. Asked if we could patch through a call to home. Yes, Levi says, when he picks up the phone. Yes, I think Dad’s out in the barn. I’ll go get him. I’ll send him with gas.
But I know there’s no gas in the jug in the shop, nothing in the shed.
I know there’s nothing at home to fill us up.
We huddle in the cold of the van. Hope does next week’s piano theory. She rubs her fingers hard. I don’t even know if the Farmer’s home, if Levi can find him. February howls bitter right through us, moaning for something more. I pray he’s coming for us. Think of that first time he took my face in his hands and kissed me too long in the dark and what he said.
His eyes had caught the light, and he said it slow and I was too young and I’ve gone back to that moment, the way it flashed, a thousand times.
“One thing you can count on is the way I’ll love you.”
He was twenty one when he took my trembling hand and slipped on the band and forever and under the veil, I was still a girl. Girl who hid behind long hair and fear and a prescribed calm that she swallowed down with the water.
The Farmer, he knows how to grow things.
The kind of man that when his wife wavers, he’s held. Girded her with prayer. When she’s cleared out a bedroom closet to fill it with books, held down her side of the room with words, and on his side he reads the farm paper and the book of Proverbs and in the middle, he’s met her, and he’s drawn it all close, and smiled when she’s created and nodded for her to go and said no to any performing and yes to just being and, crazy man, whispered too often about beautiful and asked, please, to believe him and he always, always, always said that everything, always was good. Everything, always…
He has always come. He has always filled up. And when his wife’s canned stories instead of pears and doubted what it is to be a woman and calmed when rocking babies and stitched lines instead of threads, clicked shutters and keys and opened life up to glory, he has always come and and said it is good. Said yes, live.
The way he has loved has made his wife a woman. This is what a man can do to a woman.
The way he loves her has made her live.
I don’t care how cold the wind blows. He has always come and in air that’s only smiled, he’s strengthened the stalk of me, opened the petals of who I am and I have fit my skin.
It’s near dark when he turns the corner in his truck, when he hauls out a gas jug from the back of the pick-up. I knew he would. I watch him in the rearview mirror. I can’t feel my toes.
After he’s emptied the last of the jug, he opens my door a crack. The wind whips.
“Thank you.” I whisper. He smiles into everything blustery. “But where did you find any gas at home?”
“Town.” He winks.
“You had to leave all you were doing in the the barn, drive all the way into town, get gas, and then drive all the way over here?” Oh. my. I feel …. ill. Frozen and ill. “I am so sorry.”
I look him in the eye. Wondering why? Why he would?
“I love you.” He says it simply. Says it sure into the wind.
And this is why.
Love is not passion. It is the pulse of sacrifice.
When we get home, I make hot chocolate.
Wrap my numb fingers around heat.
Write a love note to him in my half of the Mr. & Mrs. Love Love Letters Journal
Marital love is a demanding and dying thing compared to the stuff of movies and mirages.
The love of imagination is a different beast entirely than love made in the image of a Saviour with nails in His hands.
I need to write down my thanks.
The Farmer writes little with pens. He’s a man who prefers to write his love letters with his life.
After the kids are in bed, we sit with our mugs and our vows.
I rub his back and ask him about the barn and his work and the things he’s thinking about and some tanks can run dry and it takes time to fill them and there are no standing lovers: the only way to love is to lay down.
Lay down plans. Lay down agendas. Lay down self.
Love is always the laying down down.
This is how to make love: Love lays down it’s own wants to lift up the will of another.
Love let’s go of it’s plans — to hold on to a person.
In the dark, we set down our mugs and turn out the lights and the wind moans on and I hear it but I know what still comes.
In our room, we lay down beside each other and sleep under quilts, filled and warm and close.