Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The page lay on my desk, beckoning me to consider carefully the nature of affection and trust. Twelve lines. Twelve lines borrowed from a modern. Twelve lines hand-copied and hand-delivered with a slight flush of the cheek and a furtive look of the eye. Twelve lines, three clusters of thought which together become one window thrown wide open to offer a glimpse of the heart which holds on to the hope that you are trustworthy.

The poem wasn’t even about love. It was about the late afternoon shadows of autumn and the clatter of leaves being spun along the pavement and the revealing of hidden fruit. But it was filled with romance.

I wonder how many of us miss getting a glimpse of romance because we have scales on our eyes and are really looking for something else? Our day and age equates romance with something sexual because that’s how Hollywood has defined it since the 1950’s. The Internet has amplified that association by becoming a channel for peddling it. I cannot even log onto my email home page without being daily assaulted by half a dozen irritating headlines telling me how I can have better, longer, more satisfying sex, or what scantily clad star was caught by the camera yesterday. Such a definition is so sad because it settles for so very little.

Real romance is so much bigger and all encompassing. Real romance is catching the flash of white sails on the horizon while standing on the beach with your wife and smelling the salt sea air. It is candlelight reflected in a glass of port while the fireplace crackles in the background and your daughter hums a peaceful tune. It is the chickadees flicking around the feeder or hummingbirds scrabbling over a blossom, and hearing your granddaughter shout “Yook!” in surprise and delight. It is a mother and daughter, hand in hand, walking a quiet lane, discussing children. It is a couple of friends walking through a field, laughing and carrying six ducks apiece at the end of a blustery day’s hunt. It is autumn shadows, clattering leaves and open-hearted trust. Real romance is every grace-blessed thing we could taste in this life received as a token of more for the next. Friendship, children, sharing good books or music or poetry, walking in the woods, feeling autumn’s shadows. It’s all romance. Anyone who would reduce romance to mere sex wanders aimlessly in a terrible poverty of soul.

That single page, hand-delivered with the cautious expression of delight and trust and hope was romance of the finest kind. The only appropriate response is to be found tender-hearted and trustworthy.

Today’s Influences and Soundtrack:
John Donne, Batter My Heart
George Herbert, Love Bade Me Welcome
Wendell Berry, The Country of Marriage
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Edward Elgar, Enigma Variations
Pat Metheny Group, Something Left Unsaid (compilation)
This Day and Age, The Bell and the Hammer