Swiftwater Journey

faith, culture, and growing up in a rapidly changing world

the garden hose December 12, 2009

Filed under: Marriage — billmacphee @ 7:39 pm
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I’m reading Donald Miller’s, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and one of his stories reminded me of how I got married. My experience had something to do with a garden hose and my dad. Donald talks about the difference between real life and his daydreaming made up life as a writer:

“… last year I was sitting in a cafe in Boston when a man came in with his wife and their two children. One of the children was a boy who looked to be three, and the other was an infant dressed in pink. I went back to reading, but after a time the infant began to cry in a shrill I would normally find annoying. But it didn’t affect me the saem way this time. I watched the mother lift the baby into her lap and comfort her until the child’s sobbing turned to gasping. As the mother brought the child to her shoulder and rocked her until gasping turned back to breathing. It hit me then that while I had spent my twenties daydreaming and avoiding the reality of crying children, this man I didn’t know had met a woman and started a real family with real children who were not literary inventions, but actual characters who cried in coffee shops. This sort of life once sounded boring to me. It was too real, too unromantic, I suppose. But there in Boston it occured to me that his story was actually happening. He was doing real things with real people while I’d been typing words into a computer.” [Miller, p 75-76].

I was recovering from a serious mountaineering accident at the home of my parents. Still single, 26 years old, and wondering what my life would be like in the future [professionally, relationally, emotionally]  I vividly remember a moment when my dad finished watering some front yard plants and was winding the hose up neatly below its source at the spigot. In that moment I desperately wanted a productive tomorrow which would lead to the kind of life that might include something as mundane as winding the hose in a home I owned in partnership with a wife who gave birth to and nurtured our children.

In that single experience I was not only filled with hope and motivation but realized that if I was to become the kind of man a woman would want to marry I needed to begin rearranging my life [before marriage] in such a way that space was given to simple things like mowing the lawn, spending a night at home intentionally, and saving more money in my bank account. Lasting relationships, including marriage, don’t happen by chance, but are the result of two people willing to become the kind of person who can meet the needs of one they love.

Soon after recovery and life change, Cynthia and I fell in love, and worked toward getting married. It wasn’t automatic or even fate, but part of the process of moving from playing at life to actually living it.