A feather in the grass, by the side of the road.
My eyes see it, and I bend down to bear it, fragile, in my hands. It is not tightly bound, like a gull's, but splayed delicate and wispy as the clouds. A heron's, I wager my best guess. In my hands, it feels like holding a tiny wisp of my heart.
It has a broken shaft, down the center. From there it bends and droops when I hold it up in the air. I pinch it gently in its broken center and carry it home.
This feather speaks. Oh, how it speaks.
Of its inconsequentiality, on its own. Of its absolute necessity, en masse. For flight. For protection. For survival. For companionship.
* * * * *
We've been losing feathers off this marriage since we first took to the skies.
The shafts break and they fall fragile, one by one, to the earth. Each feather, bearing a name that cannot be named or need not be named in the space outside of the body from which they break.
And I wonder, even when I fear to wonder, how many feathers we can lose before we are too bare to fly. We huddle together for warmth when the bare spots cannot keep out the chill, for this is what we know to do when we do not know how to stop them falling.
And I wonder, too, how feathers grow. How many might be regenerating on these bedraggled frames, pushing up beneath the bare spaces. Ones we cannot yet see.
And this is faith.
* * * * *
At home, I set the feather across the glossy print of us, the one when we were engaged, kissing beneath a cluster of chili peppers at the Market. The feather refracts light against the photo's backdrop, writing its wispy, broken-shafted hope across our faces.
We will rise.
* * * * *
Friends, can I share with you? I write from a place of vulnerability in posts like these. Writing about marriage in this way - in the beautiful, painful mess of it all - is hard. But I do not write to process, for therapeutic purposes, or to reveal deeply private things. I write for transparency, for courage, for hope. I write, because writing helps me see what is often hidden from my immediate view. If you are married and you relate to this kind of story, I want you to know you're not alone. I don't have answers, this is for sure. But I do have hope in the One who can redeem the messiest of things, who can bring beauty from ashes. May he use these words, in some imperfect way, to shed light in the darkness.