chilling feet

chilling feet

Friday, October 25, 2013

Come Have a Cuppa with Me

I sit here listening to the calming and nostalgic inducing song "Middle Ground" by Mark Wilkinson , my wife sleeping silently beside me after a few days of working the midnight shift.  As is so often true in the music we hear, this Australian song writer's lyrics move me deeply.  One of my favorite aspects about the sweet melodies musicians give us, is we can all listen to same song and love it for quite different reasons.  A Nescafe commercial uses this song to reach out to the ongoing consistency that exists between their product and the generations of a family - when you drink it there will be a confluence of wonderful memories brought back to the heart's eye for you to enjoy (it's worth a watch).

And while I have enjoyed watching this commercial when it airs in irksome gaps of our favorite television shows, my connection with this song has been quite different from the way in which these Madmen have used it (and likely as different from the songwriter's intent).  

Sarah and I were married after her first year in medical school.  The journey has not been the easiest but after all what does that even mean?  Easy.  I just read an a pretty entertaining article online, click here for link, about how the divorce rate for people who get married during medical school is actually not really any higher than the normal divorce percentage (everyone talks about it as thought it's this insurmountable obstacle for marriage) - which probably just means more people are getting divorced all across the board than it means that medical school students are remaining with their spouses (who knows, maybe we should be encouraged that they might be).  But as with everything in life it all ends up in the hands of the kids getting married - we are the only ones who can make or break the marriage.  Some of us have everything before us just as we would want it and yet still find ourselves so unhappily unsatisfied that divorce consumes us.  Still others hit a few bumps and through the process solidify their relationship into something stronger and better than it would have been.  Then there are the true heroes - I've known too many friends, even at our ages, who have been faced with cancer, death, the loss of children, and all of the other many trials of life - and they stick through it all together.  My own tears over their life leave me feeling like a schmuck - how could I have felt like our own struggles were even real?  What's the difference?  Why do some make it?  I believe it is our difficult choice to love. 

(Sarah and me on our walk through Queens Park on the way to church.  Such
a great walk - we still need to see so much more in this park!)
Here I sit so thankful, feeling blessed beyond measure, because I am able to spend so much more time with Sarah.  Since I met her as she entered her junior year in college in pursuit of a medical degree, she is for the first time sleeping more, exercising more, living more, working less, and under less stress than I have ever seen her!  All of this translates to more unmolested time together - by that I mean we are actually able to spend true time together doing what we wish.  I am not reading while she memorizes more pages than I can count for a medical school exam.  She is not a walking zombie from lack of sleep from an insane amount of residency work hours.  There are still things that need to be done and Boards exams that have to be passed, but you get the point. 

What does this all have to do with living in New Zealand?  Everything.  Since we have moved here, this is all something I have been learning to enjoy in a way that almost makes me feel guilty.  I know that those malicious ailments that infringe themselves upon the lives of others are lying in wait, and we will be ready, but having my wife home and the ability to spend the time we have been together has truly hit me.  If you have time listen to the song by Mark again do it, and while you are listening just consider who in your life you cherish.  Be moved - do something for them - love them - tell them how much you love them - allow yourself to be as happy as possible.  

The day we started our lives together my father took me aside and said, "Everyone thinks marriage is hard.  It is supposed to be easy.  Your job is to make her happy.  When you're not doing your job it will be difficult.  If you make her happy it will be easy.  Make her happy."  I get lost sometimes and realize that I am focused on making myself happy and am confusing such pursuits with trying to make "us" happy.  It's pretty obvious when this happens - I just have to look at Sarah and see the truth.  It really is not hard.  So when she says, "Hey, do you want to move to New Zealand?"  I can consider everything that such a change means to our lives but in the end all that matters is me asking in response, "Would it make you happy darling?"  And if it truly will than off we go.  It helps if you love someone who loves you back because then your happiness matters too.  There are of course times when it is not easy to focus on Sarah and my love for her - my eagerness to make her happy will wane and this is when I find my faith to be a revitalizing reminder of sacrificial love.  We love even when we do not "feel" like it.  If I am ever cross with Sarah (usually it's my problem), the quickest fix is to dig deep and do something I know she would like.  I find myself in a more forgiving mood - I find myself loving her.  A poem by one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle, helps illuminate this struggle and she reminds us that looking to the Holy Other is the answer:

Lines After Sir Thomas Browne

"If thou couldst empty self of selfishness
And then with love reach out in wide embrace
Then might God come this purer self to bless;
So might thou feel the wisdom of His Grace,
And see, thereby, the radiance of His face.

But selfishness turns inwards, miry, black,
Refuses stars, sees only clouded night,
Too full, too dark, cannot confess a lack,
Turns from God's face, blest, holy, bright,
Is blinded by the presence of the Light."
(taken from the book Ordering of Love - a compilation of Madeleine L'Engle poems) - click on the link and treat yourself to a great book!

Sarah and I still love one another because of the "radiance of His face," we have seen our love and the value of it over the love of self.  The commitment we have to one another is strengthened immensely by the "presence of the Light."    

In addendum to this post I am going to add some photos in reference to earlier posts along with a few extra little stories.  As I promised, Sarah does stop as often as possible to take photos of the local wild life.  When I saw these little guys I made some comment to Sarah so that she would not miss them - I did not consider that I was running in between her and them.  Suddenly her bike swerved to the left in what I remember as a dangerously close encounter to disaster, maybe even ending in me taking a swim with these little ones.  Fortunately we averted said disaster and while I was not super thrilled about Sarah's sudden change of course or her rather child-like squeal, one can understand when looking at the photo why she reacted as she did!  Look at those little buggers!  The adult (we can only assume these are black swans) swans were not happy about our presence in the least, giving us awkward and terrified glances.

Once we were done terrorizing the swans, Sarah was stopped in her tracks again by these little guys having a feast on something they were finding just below the surface of the mud/sand.  They were so consumed with their efforts they paid us no mind at all.  If you look closely you can see that some of these little guys decided that standing was too much and they simply laid down on their stomachs while eating away - it was hilarious to watch them scooting their way to another find.  How does the momma (or daddy) duck keep them all in order - for goodness sakes!
 Then we found our new outdoor table!  While I had not really noticed this piece of driftwood, or discarded giant spool, Sarah mentioned it when we arrived back to our house one night.  "It looks like it would be the perfect size to make into a table," she said.  "All we have to do is get it out of the estuary and back to the house."  Well it was pretty obvious who was going down into the estuary (I think Sarah would have done it herself if she did not have Brett around), although fortunately it had washed up pretty well out of the water and onto the mud.  After hauling it, really the hardest part, up the sharp small hill onto the trail, we had what turned out a rather fun task of rolling it back to the house - up the trail and down the road, to the Baddorf house we go!  Minus the small chance of getting a splinter or two on turns and the mildly dirty object, we had a good amount of fun through the whole process.  A few fellow walkers noted our "good find" and gave looks of approval at our haul.  Below I will post a video of a part of the process where a neighbor gave his encouragement as we moved past his drive.

As always, I will leave you all with a few pics (and the video), since a picture is worth a thousand words (if that's true these posts are really long!).  Have a great day!  Go love someone who needs it.
(To take some stress off I prepared Sarah one of Momma Gwendolyn's dishes - she grew up with this and loves it.  Chicken casserole with tangerine wedges.)
(On our walk through Queens Park to church - someone needs to take straight shots!  Ha.  Soon we will have one post all dedicated to this wonderful park right in the heart of Invercargill.  It's truly amazing!)
(This path cuts straight through the center of the park.  There are countless off shoots along the way to check out a zoo, gardens, walking paths, flowers... )
(Just some flowers off to the left as you're walking through - no big deal)
(No caption necessary)