Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Five Years...

2 Chronicles 20:12
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

View from the Trout
We are huddled together towards a round picnic table, perched on the edge of a river next to a low stone pub. The pub has a motley of moss across the slate and funnily enough, a peacock perched on the chimney. Huge trees tower over, colouring the shadows various shades of dark mid-summer green. The wind stirs, mixing the sound of the dark leaves with the rush of the small waterfall nearby. We gaze towards the old wooden arched bridge that spans the river and various bits of cottony pollen float lazily in the air. It's twilight, the orange horizon is fading and the blue dome overhead slowly darkening. A golden light glows within the old pub but the air is warm enough for us to prefer to be outside. We are sitting and thinking. Something we didn't seem to have much time to do in previous summers. We meant to come up with something to say about the last five years and our anniversary last week. Some ideas started, then stopped. I think we're just happy to be here, together. Lets try again.

On one of our first days in oxford, we went out into the city center to do things. Things like opening bank accounts and cell phone plans, grown up, responsible things. I got excited navigating the little medieval city with its cobblestones and narrow passageways and I talked Anthony into letting me try and find our way home through back streets. We found the general direction, couldn't find a path and ended up on the wrong side of a river. An annoyingly small, just large enough not to be able to jump, river. There was a bridge that led to the other side, but it had a gate, complete with bars and spikes and everything. I still tried to jump it, but there was another gate at the other end that had more spikes. That last locked gate was where we decided to retrace our steps and start over.  
Lauren after our failed attempt to cross
We had forgotten about that day, when we were so tired and frustrated and got home so very very late. Until one day, nearly a year later we were walking in magdalen college and we found the gate again, this time from the other side. There was a brief moment of recognition, and recalling the events of that early oxford day that seemed so long ago. Then, there was a slightly eerie feeling. A feeling of coming full circle. That first day was a beginning, trying to get somewhere but forced to give up our path. Now was an ending, our days in oxford are coming to a close, and we finally made it across that river. It took much longer than we thought and we weren't looking for it the second time but we made it nonetheless less. 
The locked gate!
It feels a bit like that now. We started our life together in Miami and now our path is headed there once again. We were saying today, we spent our early lives in Miami but we grew up in oxford. And now is the time to turn our tracks towards home without knowing exactly what we will find there.

To be honest, we are both a little scared. We haven't felt like we have lived together with a certain oneness centered on God & each other like we have in Oxford. It's intimidating because we don't want to fall back into the same old patterns. For a good portion of the first few years of our married life, time passed while we kept up with responsibilities without us ever enjoying or examining life. We never stopped to think about what really mattered to us or what we really wanted to live for. We were distracted, filled with the prevailing attitude of our city. Work hard, get stuff, spend money on small entertainments to tide you over so you can work hard some more and get more stuff.  
Too be honest, we have even noticed things about the American lifestyle that distract so many people from devoting more to God. One of the biggest Achilles heel of the American Dream is this constant & insatiable need to have more stuff. Some people call it "improving your life" but it's really materialism. Seriously, how many times do you need to swap out that couch? Now I'm not against creating a homely atmosphere I just don't think us Americans need to be spending hours on buying more clothes or cars or furniture or phones or whatever. I've seen a many good Christian couples get distracted with the rat race that they don't realise that what they are chasing will vanish in an instant. We are told from the time we are children to get good grades so we can get into a good school to get a degree to get a good job to get a good house and fill it with stuff and have children to tell them to do the same thing. We don't want that. We're not entirely sure what life is going to look like as the years go on, but it's part of the adventure and we're excited to see what happens next.
          Anthony & Lauren

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