Almost four years ago Joe and I were moving from "winter" into "spring" in our marriage.
Anyone who's read Gary Chapman's The Four Seasons of Marriage understands the reference.
Anyone who's lived in Minnesota will too; we know the agonizing coldness and death each winter is and we know the joy with which we welcome the budding excitement of spring.
It was a good time in our marriage and lasted a couple years before we became complacent and experienced the cycle again last year.
Meanwhile, SALT (http://www.saltsings.org/) was in it's second year of existence. We had just performed our Christmas concert, "Welcome Heaven's Light," for the first time. Shortly after the concert we started working with Mike Talbott. His goal was to help us find direction and plan a roadmap.
Somehow at that time we stopped performing. We were feeling out of sorts and unsure about how to manage the task in front of us. Becca, Willson, and I were talking about our shared dissatisfaction and unrest during Lent that year. We all agreed we needed an opportunity to perform, believing it would inject energy back into our practices and work.
I mentioned I had an idea and wondered if they'd trust me enough to agree to it without a lot of detail about what it was. They did.
That night I left practice with my laptop. I sat in bed near Joe and wrote the outline for our Feast. Then I wrote the dialogue, made a tentative list of songs we could use, and a created a chart of tasks we'd need to complete.
My idea was to create an evening of entertainment for married or engaged couples.
It would look and feel like a wedding reception, complete with a three-course dinner, wedding cake, and a "first" dance.
During the evening we would sing and tell stories -- ours and the guests'. We would share quotations, wisdom, and music. We would serve like Jesus taught us. We would offer our guests the opportunity to renew their marriage vows.
Mostly, our Feast would celebrate marriage and family, the very foundation of our society. Jesus himself thought marriage was important; his very first miracle was performed while taking time out of His very important ministry to share a wedding feast with an unnamed couple. The title for our show has been the Feast since the beginning.
I imagined, as I wrote, which SALT member would say each word, which SALT member would perform each action, which guest would most appreciate which comment. When I finally fell asleep -- curled between Joe and my laptop -- I dreamed a Feast.
SALT cooperated with every task offered, and some tasks (think recording videos) were incredibly difficult. As with everything we do, the final product is a marriage of opinions and thoughts and talents. It's not exactly as I wrote it, but it's exactly what I hoped it would be. I love each of those people for trusting me enough to step outside their comfort zones and give me the opportunity to do what I do better than play the piano -- organize and shape the world according to my vision.
The Feast is my tribute to my husband, who is much better at forgiveness and unconditional love than I am. Twice Joe and I have experienced winter in our marriage. After the first winter, I wrote the Feast with a heart full of thankfulness for our season of renewal and rebirth. During the second winter, it took performing a Feast to move out of the troubled season.
Joe and I were at odds, largely thanks to my own troubled situation with my parents. It had been a year since SALT last performed the show. My memory of the actual dialogue and the impact of our videos had dimmed. I'd even forgotten my video. I cried this time when I watched it and remembered how it felt to be in that first season of renewal. During the vow renewal I took Joe's hands and felt him hold mine with such strength and conviction. I felt hope unfurl in the darkest corners of my heart. We held each other's gaze as we admitted having been through troubled times and then reaffirmed our commitment to each other and our family as we resaid our vows.
I trust completely that Joe means it when he says he will be here all the days of my life.
Someday I'm sure we'll wander again through winter. My prayer is that we recognize it quickly and sprint back to spring.