a very unexpected gift

Our celebration went well (in some ways better than I'd hoped). I did my best at baking French baguettes, and found Camembert and Boursin cheeses to go with it. Plus wine, mango, dark chocolate Toblerone, and limericks. Here's a sample (Heather was born in Ireland):

In √Čire, a woman gave birth,
relieving herself of her girth.
Then they understood why
she'd let out such a cry:
The wee babe came out reading Wordsworth.
We also took a winding walk around the neighborhood, recalling memorable things that happened at each place. That was good. A reminder for both of us of all we value in our relationship.

But Heather did feel the need to mention that it's still very uncertain whether we will marry. I didn't want to think about that right then. But it's true.

And it came back to me this morning. I think I've been forgetting that I don't deserve any of this, that it's all a gift, and a very unexpected gift at that. I remember when I first started out walking: I assumed that the road was the only place I could be, that there was nowhere else I could live without paying for it or fighting for it. It seemed like the road was the only place I could completely give my life as a gift. And soon after, I accepted the assumption that I wouldn't get married. I just couldn't imagine any woman who would want to share such a life with me (especially if she wanted a family). What I reasonably expected was a life on the road, alone, with all the hardships of being a poor, homeless stranger in our society. And even then, it seemed worth it to me. Because didn't Jesus endure all this and much more? And call it "blessed"?

But what I found was something much better. I found food and shelter and welcome, all given freely. I found friends among Christians (though certainly not all Christians), and places where I could stay and give my work freely. Here at Reba Place. And later this year at the Catholic Worker house in Champaign. And I found a woman who loves me and dreams of our life together, and who will take steps with me to find out if God will support us as a family. This is more than surprising. Many people (even Christians, even here) have told me it is impossible. But, unexplicably, it's happening.

I'm not surprised that people tell me it's impossible. I'm not shocked that Heather's father warns her that our marriage won't work. Their arguments are very convincing.

What's amazing is that I haven't been stopped yet. It's incredible that I'm sitting here typing on this computer that's not mine, in this warm place that's not mine, wrapped in clothes that were given to me, full of food that was given to me. Thinking about the year ahead as an adventure among the poor with a woman I love. That's amazing. Amazing grace.

I'm very thankful to you, God.