Love always hopes.
I rehearsed that phrase in my mind as we inched down the Virginia highway, a bursting green corridor that would lead Jonathan and me to our first married home. Our minds raced ahead of the crawling traffic to the pots, pans, and the 1,200 books we were about to unpack. I felt amazed at that moment that the biblical virtue of love, which I sometimes think of in terms of work, should feel so hopeful.
I have only a cloudy recollection of the days leading up to our wedding, with a few salient details emerging from the mist. I fell ill about a week and a half before, and stayed in bed a full six days with a fierce sinus and ear infection. I read Catherine Marshall’s book Julie. I had long planned to read Julie just before my wedding, since my mother had read it in the bathtub the night before hers. At first I grew impatient with the book’s antique, plodding style. But in the name of tradition, and because I couldn’t get out of bed, I stuck to it. I was rewarded with a slam-bang ending I never foresaw and I think I will never forget. A massive flood obliterates the tiny Pennsylvania town of Alderton, where the book takes place. Cows, horses, automobiles, and people, stripped naked, float down the center of the town. After the book’s tame beginning and my long investment in the story, I was astounded and even a little wounded by the carnage the book presented to my imagination.
Jonathan and I were married at a Christian camp beside a Finger Lake in Upstate New York, and in the three days preceding, we packed the cabins with groomsmen, bridesmaids, and musicians. It rained. And rained. And rained. The water fell all through the trees surrounding the camp, and we snuggled inside the warm white cabins eating meatloaf and apple crisp. At first, it was romantic.
Friday morning we began to receive phone calls from wedding attendants who reported flooded roads. While my parents drove through feet of water to get to camp, my matron of honor called to say that her route to the wedding was impassable. The flood had trapped two groomsmen in a nearby town. Another friend’s flight was delayed because it was too windy to land in New York. At that point, in my very busy and still-recovering body and mind, I felt that the horror of Julie was about to unfold before me and ruin everything.
But everything was not ruined. There was still hope. The rain abated. The roads cleared. The people came. It turned out just as they always say: At the end of the day, we were married. The tulle was hung, the dress was donned, the vows read, the tears shed, the songs sung, the firecrackers discharged, and the food served. And we were married.
We are home now. We have no groceries yet, but we have two writing desks that overlook horse pastures. And five aprons. And three pillows. And 1,200 books. What’s not to hope for?