Meet me where you’re going,
Cause I want to be going where you are.
Teach me what you’re knowing,
Cause I want to be knowing who you are.
“Meet Me Where You’re Going,” Cloud Cult
For the seventh time, I return to the candle.
It is alone between a road and a wide, snowy field, this waxy eighteen inches of torchlight, wavering gently in the February night. The first time I came here I paid this candle only a cursory glance. It was a link in the chain, just a candle by the road of where I was going.
I came out here almost an hour ago, you see. My roommate handed me a note from Timmy, which sent me searching for him, following clues from one significant place to the next. I’d bundled up in my favorite coat, hat and scarf–suspecting that this might be the most special and photographed of occasions–but neglected mittens, believing that it wouldn’t, ultimately, take very long. As I walked from home to school, I’d whistled merrily in anticipation, hands deep in my pockets and heart deep in reflection of the year of blessing that had brought Timmy and me to this exciting evening.
Now I’ve stopped whistling, mired in the mystery of his last clue: “555 steps up a hill to a rocky place.” I’ve spiraled around the meadow, climbed twice to the top of the nearest hill, but everywhere I’ve gone, my torchlight has only interrupted more night. No people, and certainly no Timmy. It is an enchanting night, a Robert Frost night that whispers of lovely woods, dark and deep, so I’m not unhappy to be out in it. I’m neither lost nor afraid; I know exactly where I am, just not where I’m supposed to be.
Which is why I’ve come back to the candle, planted on the path with a proverb attached to its stem (Proverbs 5:19: “May you ever be captivated by her love!”) written out on the telltale red paper which has borne so many notes back and forth between Timmy and me. When I was in a hurry, confidently going the wrong way, I didn’t bother with this candle, but it’s drawn me back like a moth, again and again, to the last place I know I’m meant to be. With nothing else to do and no clue where to go next, I wait.
Even perplexed and frustrated, I laugh by my candle of certainty, thinking of how this is one of those events, which I’ll be telling about forever. How on the night I got engaged I first wandered around for an hour in the snowy Black Forest, while my dear almost-fiance almost froze, waiting for me in the canyon I couldn’t find. To pass the time–and avoid the humiliation of having to go home and admit I failed in my quest to accept a proposal–I daydream in metaphor, thinking of the red markers I wrote about on an Austrian summer day, those stunning reminders from God that assure us we’re on the right path. This candle is another marker, tonight a marker for us.
And I can’t know this, here at the beginning–even before the beginning–of marriage, but I suspect that a lifetime together will require markers, too. Just as I’ve been trusting in God for guidance walking alone, now we’ll do the same walking together, looking back and ahead at the truths we hold deeply and confidently at the core of us. Our commitment to love and serve one another, our faith in Jesus Christ, our rootedness in His love. These are our candles in dark fields, truths to which we will return, living in the nourishing circle of their light.
The pragmatic reality of another sound breaks the spell of my reflection, and I look up to see my friend, Emily, coming toward me in the darkness.
“Are you lost?” she asks, breathless with laughter or cold. I nod and laugh.
“It wasn’t exactly…clear.” We know these trails well, but tonight I’m clinging to my candle as if it’s the end of the known world. She points the way, promising clarity down a dark road I hadn’t considered, then disappears ahead of me.
As I follow new candles around a corner, I think about how marriage isn’t a solo endeavor. How we’ll serve, guide and love one another, yes, but also how God will provide others around us, people who will pray and teach, encouraging us to reflect His love and life with ours. It’s why we have weddings, celebrations in which we take these first steps together in the presence of those who will invest in our union, rejoicing with us.
The candles lead me through the woods, down to where a forest of torches and the full moon fill a snowy hollow with a gentle glow. And there waits Timmy, my beloved, smiling and cold, the center of a luminous pool of light. He waits with a ring and a question, a kiss and a prayer. I bring a hand and an answer, a kiss and a smile, and with a few words the moment is complete. A new journey begun with cold hands and warm hearts, I thank God for this marker of a moment, a brilliant candle to light our way.
Thank you to all of you who have encouraged, prayed for and supported Timmy and me in the last year. I am so thankful for your involvement in our lives, and feel blessed by your love and prayers as we take these next steps together.