Last night, Sherod and I were out at Fort Yolk, sweat running down our faces and backs, trying to figure out how to keep our new little girls warm enough but not too warm, in weather that’s hard for baby chicks. They are growing really fast and the bin we’d used as their brooder is not big enough for seven peeps who are already testing their wings with lots of success. Their coop has a tin roof and in the hottest part of the day, with temperatures in the high 90’s and a layer of humidity to make it worse, we’ve had to keep the roof up to give them some ventilation. We keep bird netting over that opening to keep predators out. Yesterday, one of the bravest of the lot, Elin, managed to fly up to the ledge at the top of the coop and almost got herself all tangled up in that netting.
Reluctantly, we made the decision to let them down into the lower part of their new digs and then of course, last night could not get them to go back upstairs where we have better temperature control for when the temperature drops below 85 (which is the age-appropriate temperature for 3-week old chicks). So there we were, at 9 PM, working a new plan, sweating, contorting, getting all bitten up by mosquitos. When we came back inside, the Mallowman wanted me to open his anniversary presents. Today marks 27 years. He gave me two pink flamingos that now grace the flower bed in the front of the house—a sweet reminder that we spent most of our married life in Florida. He also gave me the sign he made himself.
It’s taken me this long, but I have figured something out about marriage: yes, there is romance and sparky-sparky, certainly in the early years. There are moments of the most wonderful companionship imaginable. And as we abide and endure, what I see more and more, is that it strengthens us to love and serve beyond ourselves. Last night, it was loving and serving those silly little chicks who are growing into that gawky, awkward stage that evokes a whole new level of tenderness in me. This is no earth-shaking revelation. But it makes the whole notion of marriage even more meaningful and his and mine even more a sacrament of God’s grace. The Episcopal Church has made some momentous decisions in the past few weeks about this sacrament. For many it is profoundly painful and contrary to what they hold dearest. For the men and women I knew and served in Fort Lauderdale, who are strengthened in their love for each other and who serve selflessly and more generously than I dare hope for–and for those whose lives they touch, including mine–this is a blessing that blesses.