Northern California was appealing to us because it provided relatively easy access to both culture and nature. Once we got there, however, we found the city considerably less appealing than the natural areas outside the city. Part of this was due to our natural inclinations towards introversion. Part was due to the fact that we just finished a busy school year, which had taken an emotional toll on our family. And part was due to the fact that we let ourselves be talked into upgrading from our compact economy car rental to a brand-new, fiery-orange Mustang convertible.
We had such a lovely time: cruising the Pacific Coast Highway… watching wildlife (pelicans, crabs, starfish, sea lions, deer)… eating delicious meals in unusual settings… talking together about our past, present, and future… But of all the things we saw and did, the trees of Northern California may have been the most impressive elements of our trip. The Coastal Redwoods and Giant Sequoias, especially. I ended up taking 63 photographs of the trees out in Northern California — and I didn’t get a single shot that fully encapsulated the awe I felt when I looked at those trees with my own eyes.
The pictures simply don’t do the experience justice. But I’ve been thinking about this, and I appreciate the way that it’s kind of similar to the way that saying “20th Wedding Anniversary” doesn’t do the experience justice. Maybe there’s some sense of perspective from the aggregate, the juxtapositions, the volume of snapshots each depicting a slightly-different point of view. But not really. It doesn’t feel satisfying for me to attempt encapsulating these experiences in snapshots, but it also doesn’t feel satisfying for me to leave them unmentioned or seemingly-unobserved.
I’m immensely grateful for the two decades that Marci and I have spent together. I wish I could show you. I wish I could tell you. But it’s fine. Psalm 115 struck me recently: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness…” It’s easy to make an idol out of romantic relationships, instead of celebrating the way our human love reflects the Heavenly love that gave us that ability in the first place. “Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands… All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord! He is your helper and shield. The Lord remembers and will bless us…”
That’s our prayer for the next twenty years. We want to keep trusting the Lord, relying on him for our help and protection from life’s storms. Whether that’s in Northern California, or Ohio, or Europe, or wherever, we’re thankful for God’s blessings and our ability to keep on walking in wonder.