Two Rooms

by sarahmfry, January 25, 2008

We were at the cabin in the snowy woods - sitting in front of the fire, just talking. And suddenly it was before me – our marriage in vivid color. More accurately, pictures of each of us individually in vivid color. Because really, a healthy marriage is where each person knows and enjoys who they are, but where each becomes better and better at being part of one another.

You won’t be surprised to know that in this vision my husband is a library. Not a dark, dry, dusty library with a mere sliver of light piercing the musty air. But a massive, rich library. Bookshelves to the ceiling, lined with beautifully-bound volumes about everything you could possibly imagine. And these volumes are not just facades in which, upon opening, you find blank pages. Each volume is gold-embossed and full of rich and wonderful information. Comedy, history, romance, theology, nature, ministry, politics, sports…a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. There is a large fireplace, graced with two burgundy wingback chairs on an exquisite oriental rug. The desk is well-used but tidy. The windows are large, but framed with part-closed tasseled curtains. A distinctive and handsome room that you could get lost in.

Just across the hall, you’ll find my studio. The white sheers are blowing freely from the wide-open windows. The walls are a shimmering hue that changes shades with every turn of the light. On the floor beside the couch is a stack of books. Each corner holds its own purpose, but the fullness of ideas tends to extend and intermingle until it all looks a bit of a jumble at first glance.

Several instruments are propped here and there. Art and books are everywhere. Lots of comfy chairs for sitting and chatting. Left-over cups of tea. Red toile cushions. A few chocolate wrappers and scratches of paper. A dying plant or two, and some beautiful pictures that, while tastefully combined, may or may not be hanging slightly askew. Several projects are obviously underway at once, lending life and ideas to one another. It is a happy, although unpredictable place.

And these are the two worlds that must abide under one roof in beautiful harmony. The answer is not for each to remain to himself, rarely engaging in more than passing cordiality. But each must learn to abide fully and comfortably in the room of the other.

When I go into his library, I am in awe. I am inspired. I am comfortable. Sometimes, I’m even bored. Those times when he is fully engrossed into a volume whose meaning I am too lazy to discover – sometimes I get frustrated and just walk out.

And sometimes when he walks into my studio he is completely overwhelmed. A storm may be brewing and a few drops coming in – (and why in heaven’s name would a person leave the windows open during a storm, anyway?) And he finds it baffling that I would want to do so many projects at one time, with jazz crooning in the background – why not just focus on one and avoid the noodling of ideas?

But then there are those times when you will find us both in front of the fireplace, completely engrossed in some idea or volume together. Or in the studio creating a project that will solve the world’s problems. Or hiking a winter trail and experiencing what needs not words. Wondering over the colors of a new bird species. Laughing at the antics of a room full of kids and puppies.

But the trick, I think, is understanding, respecting and valuing the differences of our design. And having the patience and discipline to linger in a place that is not necessarily comfortable until it becomes natural. Sitting long enough to learn about Christology and pneumatology and eschatology. Listening long enough to understand why the color of the wallpaper is related to the shade of my toenails and how that is all so worshipfully connected. These are the things that refine us through patience and unite us through kindness and combine us into one understanding.

And then, perhaps – he’ll paint with brighter shades and I’ll act with quieter, more purposeful confidence. And we most certainly will better understand why God chose marriage as a picture of His love for us.

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