I don’t know who was more freaked out, the raccoons or me.
I pulled the heavy sliding glass door and peered into the dawn. The backyard was painted a stunning upside down orange-ombre, and I was torn – coffee or the treadmill? Treadmill before coffee meant I could shower and give my hair time to dry before work. (Working remotely means I have to purposefully plan physical activity to offset hours in front of the computer or I’ll be mistaken for an Oompa Loompa on our return to in person education.)
On the other hand, if I made coffee and sat outside first, it would still be quiet enough that I could be serenaded by my miniature waterfall before the grating sounds of urban life commandeered the day. I was so busy arguing the merits of either decision that I didn’t notice the movement at first.
Then it was impossible to NOT notice, as shapes moved across the yard. At first I thought I was seeing a couple of fat cats. I opened the screen door and the movements sped up. I blinked and squealed and counted.
One-two-three-four-five. No, six! Raccoons. Like a game of follow the leader – or a group sobriety test- the large raccoons were strutting single file across the yard.
Until I squealed.
Then they scattered like children hearing the parental cry ” bedtime! ”
I had no clue that raccoons were such swift creatures. I saw flashes of movement in every direction; behind the shed, under the trees and into the furthest corner of the yard where the critters escaped over and under our sagging fence.
Suddenly one stopped.
Right in the corner, where the others had leaped up and over our wooden enclosure.
He turned and stared at me. It felt like a show-down of sorts, but I wasn’t about to engage. I just watched.
Then I saw another raccoon, the straggler who had looked like he might fail the sobriety test. Tipsy (doesn’t everyone name their twilight raccoons??) remained behind a broken John Deere-colored wheelbarrow. Then slowly, cautiously, the drunk-acting bandit moved toward his masked partner in crime, who remained in stare-down mode until Tipsy slipped through a hole in the fence. Then that last one shot up and over the pickets and disappeared from sight.
I decided on the treadmill that morning, thinking it might slow my heart rate.
I thought about those raccoons all day. I know virtually nothing about raccoons. I had never actually encountered them before.
I thought about how Stare-Down Stan could have escaped and been halfway out of town before the slow one caught up. Instead he waited. He had the straggler’s back, ensuring Tipsy made it to freedom too.
I thought about them as the HH and I just celebrated our 33rd anniversary this weekend.
As we tucked ourselves away in one of our favorite mountain towns, I thought about the things that have enabled us to not just STAY married, but to have a growing, thriving, love and laughter filled relationship.
Commitment stands at the forefront. This is why we have often emulated those raccoons.
No, we don’t break into strangers’ yards and play an inebriated game of Follow the Leader. (Though if we are in Covid Mode much longer, our neighbors better watch out…)
But we do wait for each other.
33 years is a long time to be married.
I was a broken girl, barely riding a bike without training wheels but hiding behind a tough exterior, when I met my husband. In less than four months we stood before a justice of the peace and vowed for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part, we would love and cherish one another.
The words were just a releasing of noise at the time. We got married on a whim, barely thinking beyond the next week.
But we have made it here, to the joy of silver haired grand-parenting. Together.
It’s been a journey. Mostly a sweet and fun walk through a few different countries, many states, and all kinds of terrain. Miles and miles of moving forward.
But there have also been seasons of standing still, of waiting.
The two of us, we have taken turns being Stare-Down Stan and Tipsy, one strong and fierce when the other was weak or straggling, and vice versa.
We’ve stood guard over our marriage, waiting as one or the other has limped through addictions, or poor financial decisions, or health issues – never willing to throw in the sweat stained towels.
We’ve stood by – sometimes with clenched teeth or stomping feet – when each of us, at times, was spiritually or emotionally stunted and the other could have leaped over the fence and been halfway out of town before the other caught up.
We’ve waited through hurts and misunderstandings and really hard things until the other could catch their breath and we could walk the same speed again.
Thirty-three years (and four months) he’s still my favorite person to walk with.
Both Christians and unbelievers like to quote the well known scripture in 1 Corinthians 13. It is embroidered on pillows and tapestries, written in beautiful calligraphy beneath breathtaking nature scenes and hung on walls.
But the power isn’t in framing it; the power comes from writing it on the heart, believing it, and walking it out, through the power of Christ.
“Love suffers long and is kind, love does not envy, love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a
Galatians 5: 23 tells us the fruit of God’s spirit includes longsuffering. In marriage this sometimes means waiting patiently for better days when the going gets rough. Because we humans are imperfect people. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
I’ve had to wait on the hubs, and he has had to wait on me at times. But we always catch up. And the wait is always worth it.
I’m not advocating staying in an unsafe situation. I’m talking about giving grace – time and room for growth and change. So I’d like to encourage you…if you are in a waiting mode right now, hang in there. As much as depends on you, hang in there. And ask for prayers, from people you trust.
I want to give thanks to those who have prayed hubs and I through our tough seasons. You’ve made an eternal difference. And I’m grateful to be celebrating 33 years in these glorious snow capped mountains, with my amazing snow-capped husband.