a tribute to joel's thirtieth anniversary of birthwhy i admire my husband:
- because when he speaks, people listen.
- because he gave me Morcheeba, Massive Attack, Radiohead’s KidA, Portishead, Pigeonhead, Rush, Little River Band, Boards of Canada, Zero 7, Emiliana Torrini, Innocence Mission, Debussy, Mussorgsky, Neko Case, Gillian Welch, Gregorian Chant, and countless other musicians whose sounds have become family.
- because he slowly lifted my face and taught me to gaze upward, gently correcting my continual and feckless stumbling over the temporal.
- because he’s incredibly smart while simultaneously maintaining compassion and authenticity with people.
- because he does not and never will apologize for insisting on the ideal in his projects, in his relationships, in his god.
- because he loves theatre, musicals, symphonies, ballets, and operas.
- because he has willing, capable, and handsome hands…the hands of a man.
- because he mellifluously balances his adult and child. He is as old as the oldest sequoia, thrusting his roots deeper, taking in all possible nourishment from this planet so as to reach the clouds; he is as young as the child cradled in those branches, eating all of its fruit, unbreakably focused on all its inhabitants.
- because he sometimes eats with one hand on his knee. I remember watching him eat this way in college and thought it was so sexy...
- because he loves sassy, intelligent, authentic, confident, challenging women.
- because he is a teacher.
- because he loves touch and unabashed affection.
- because he is always supportive of my friendships…
- because he puts others needs above his own.
- because he is a beverage snob. When we met, it was coffee, then beer, then tea (now beer again). When he is interested in something, he becomes an expert on the subject. There is no casual knowledge for joel.
- because he never seems to be affected by what people think, but always loves them despite themselves.
- because he has impeccable taste and a keen eye for style.
- because his first reaction to people is kindness.
- because he sits on the roof and weeps for god.
- because he weeps.
- because he’s not afraid to offend to be himself, despite any offense others take to his confrontational, devil’s advocate manner of challenging.
- because he loves to hang out with his father and can make his mother cry with affection for him. (to see a mother so proud of her son is a beautiful and rare thing in our times).
- because he is the ultimate handy man, loves hard work, and will not compromise his ethic.
- because he loves eucharist.
- because his words fall like languid autumn leaves and cover my wounds; he prioritizes and pursues me.
- because he loves the elderly and they love him.
- because people are always more important to him than tasks, details, or schedules.
- because he gave me the love of rain and all things green – taking me into the forest and showing me off with pride to all of his old boreal friends.
- because he is complex, multifaceted, and not bound by roles.
- because just as when he meticulously cleans or organizes something, he is equally as fastidious about being a gardener for me; committed to facilitating an environment of growth, stretching my depleted branches to the sky, helping bear the truest fruit of myself, and showing me how crisp, colorful, and beautiful it is - even when it falls to the ground.
When we decorated the tree last night, we were listening to our typical Christmas music of cathedral choirs and Gregorian chant. Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel was playing and I started musing with Joel about a recent spiritual revelation I had as I came back from counseling the other night.
I am not sure why I hadn't thought of this before, or maybe I had but didn't idenfity. Either way, I was thinking that if Jesus was in every way human, then he also went through the deepest of existential dilemmas. He would have battled about what it all meant, if what he had to do (if he even KNEW he had to do it) would even be worth it, and probably plead over and over with god to be released from such and isolated and miserable fate. Did he know he would conquer death? Did he know he would rise again?
I felt a new identification with him and in his suffering heard him say,
“you are not alone.”
As I took out another ornament, Joel mused about the hauntingly beautiful words of the carol, “that mourns in lonely exile.” Such an expression…
This lead him to a teach me the roots of the word Emmanuel, and in the ensuing discussion he made the strand of blue lights blur: “a passage that has had more influence on my theology than I probably even know is 'and he shall be called, Emmanuel, god with us.' ”
A deep meditative pause.
“I think that is just so beautiful.”
Joel’s unabashed love and unique perspective of god moves me deeply. Especially in this season of advent, to have a man who never dogmatically insists on sumbission or ridgid adherence to a religion, but whose love for Christ comes flowing out of him, so much that he cannot contain it. This is a kind of leadership I have never experienced first-hand in the home. To watch this makes me the most privileged spectator; the true essence of a spouse. Because he is living truly as he meant to, I am free to do the same.
Furthermore, because Christ knew isolation, he knew despair, he knew utter misery, he knew the nagging confusion of meaning...
“you are not alone.”
And for the first time in a long while, I can authenticallly exclaim "thank you" to the skies.
brimming with wine from the most generous pour,