I Know Who You Are


By Carolyn Shields

And I'm already writing about you, warning myself from the start to not write you into someone you're not. Not to give you a name only I call you by. Not to place you on a pedestal. Praying for detachment and to not fall for you because you love some random Russian composer, because you have the dearest morning routine, because you grew up in a canyon and because you have sweet dimples and the deepest eyes I've ever seen, thick curly hair and whiskers you don't have to shave. And your hands are dirty from giving.

I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water and swung the door open wide when you rang the doorbell, half frozen from your eight block walk from the train station. We dodged the dog and I couldn't meet your eyes for longer than a few seconds without blushing, so I always looked away.

And, wouldn't you have it, I quickly got tipsy off of Yeungling and high on live music, and at the end of the night, I think I was watching someone else fall for you and it was like God was keenly watching me, monitoring my heart and asking if I would truly be detached.

I got in my car to leave. Breathed a sigh and went, "Okay..." Was about to put everything in reverse, take my foot off the brake, go home alone.

And then you ran after me.

And the following week when we got coffee, exhausting topics from kale to Dante, I realized that for years I've been trying to write you into existence, and it's like our Holy has taken those fragments and broken syllables and all of that ink, and has breathed you to life.

And He's given you a name.

I whisper it over and over again because I can't comprehend it. I can't grasp you, even when I'm cradling your face between my hands. I can't behold you, even when we're sitting on your bed and you're reading a poem you wrote that you never shared with anyone else as it thunders outside. I can't check this wonder and awe. I've never felt so frustrated by the limitations of our vocabulary.

It's like all of this intangible and abstract faith I placed in Christ for you, and this frustratingly elusive veil that I couldn't throw aside for years has parted to reveal...you. You are my prayer manifested.  You are the fruit born from laboring and working on this rocky soil.

I've begun to understand something after accumulating a year's worth of sunsets from my windowsill, eight stories high. Some seek Holy in the prolific writings of our fathers. They seek Him in the texts and profound tradition and the mysteries and litanies and chants. They engage and dive and study and extract those truths left to us to grasp on the alter, and they strive to understand that sacred space between objective and subjective reality. And I admire that, and I wish I had it in me to be like that, to have that drive and thirst and passion for the truth in reason.

But the other night as I lay star gazing on the hood of my car, I saw a shooting star and realized: the stars are enough. For me, I mean. Holy finds me not through honorable studies but floods my soul in places of wonder and awe.

So you? You are more than enough. I have found that radical incarnated Love through you, so much more profoundly than what I found in the sky, and the only way I can think to thank you enough for that is to get you to Heaven.

Note: This article was started the day after I met him and has been cultivated the past few months. Maybe cultivated isn't the right word, but we're growing something here. And dear readers, I'm so excited to share this joy with you. I hope you're ready for this!