The semi-circle of peaks wraps around me, too distant to hug, too soft to stand sentinel. But they do both stand guard and comfort. It is November. Their sides are dry and brittle, beige and grey. The slopes are dotted with rust–almost a pop of color in this season. And dark brown. Even brown is color now. An evergreen rises past this bank of third story windows, reaching past the fourth floor above, a deep green reminding me that the ever-living part of us takes time to reach to the sky. Here and there the miracle of modern sprinkler systems create little circles and squares of green grass, but even that color is November-muted.
All of this has nothing to do with what is on my mind.
Or does it?
I’m thinking of love.
Our youngest son and his girlfriend spent the weekend here with us. We took them to a glorious hot springs nestled among the rocks and slopes, hiding at the end of a long, bumpy road. The natural pools form little ponds of steaming water. At one side the scalding waters flows over tiny falls into the pools. On the other flows the river. Cold, cold river. In the middle we play. Float. Rest. Choose our temperature.
Jerry and I watch and smile as they dance the dance of young love. He splashes in the cool, river-fed pool, colder because it is November. Freezing because our bodies have been in the hot springs. He splashes and dives. Brings her rocks. They toss them. Skip the flat stones. He begs her come over the wall. Leave the perfect temperature and adventure in the river side. She resists. His eyes soften. Call. Emboldened, she stands first on the dividing rock wall. He counts to ten while she gathers courage, then with a shriek and a splash they are no longer separated.
Young love. Push. Pull. Can’t-bear-to-be-separated love.
They tease. Comfortable enough to be goofy. In love enough to be sappy.
“Momma, isn’t she beautiful?” he often asks.
Of course she is.
I am fifty-one. Jerry older. These nights we can’t bear to be separated, even by pajamas or space in the bed. We wrap warm bodies around each other as we sleep. Wrinkles are forgotten. Bulges in wrong places of no consequence. We are flawed inside and out, but it doesn’t matter.
Love is unconditional.
We’ve weathered years. Hardships. Joys.
Forgiven each other our weaknesses. Our faults. Our bad choices.
They asked us about marriage, these young ones. About what parts are hard and what parts are not, and now, two days later I panic at all the life they must someday navigate, at all the experiences they’ve not yet had, at the cost they do not yet understand.
And I pray.
And Jesus reminds me I too was once young.
And that He was there. Is there still. And will be for them.
That His unconditional love will teach them how to love, how to weather the hardships and the pain and the unexpected difficulties. That He does this for all who ask. And that we learn, over time, the cost and joy of love.
How to let it be unconditional.
Jerry and I came here to heal. I feel soul weary, the last book demanding more of me than I ever dreamed. I left it in the hands of the editors and formatters and proof-readers and came to this place seeking.
Refreshment. Companionship. Mountain views. Hot springs. Time alone with Jerry and Jesus, surrounded by those two from whom I receive unconditional love.
They take me.
Flawed. Healing. Joyful and sad. Strong and weak. Tired and energized. They choose me. Accept me like this. Without mask. Without decoration. When my colors are bland.
The pale blue sky, not yet winter, but no longer the bright cobalt of autumn, dims outside the window. A pale line of color clings to the mountain peaks, not orange. Not bright enough to be peach even. Just a dusting of color over the grey peaks which have yet to be decorated with snow.
All is muted.
Accepted in this state of quiet.
I sip my Merlot and watch as dusk becomes night and lights come out to twinkle against the mountainside.
(Thoughts from November in Steamboat Springs . . .)
Until next time,