Engagement Benediction

**Note–the image above is a painting by Makoto Fujimura.  More information is below.


So seriously, could my last post have been any more whiny?  I don’t think so, Tim.  The planes REALLY WERE loud though.  They were.

And then, the night after I post it, Ann from  Holy Experience, surprisingly and humblingly linked back here in one of her posts after I joined the Gratitude Community.  Yeah, you wanna talk about feeling like a fraud.  *Puts brown paper sack over her face*

Anyway, I’m still fighting off the grumpiness.  We finally got some sunshine yesterday and for most of today and I can’t even tell you how much that helped.  I’m still cagey, I still miss Husband, and for whatever reason–possibly just the time of year–I am feeling the missing of my mother in a raw way once again.  But that’s ok.

That’s not even what I want to write about today.

Every so often, I rediscover Makoto Fujimura.  And it’s always a huge treat when I do.  He’s an artist, but better than that, he is an incarnational artist.  His paintings are acts of worship–vessels which point to the creator.  Husband and I have a particular fondness for Makoto Fujimura.  And I gotta tell you why.

So it was December of our senior year of college.  He who would be Husband was in an art class which he was loving (I  believe art literally saved his life, but that’s another post), and he told me that his class had been given the assignment to go visit the St. Louis Art Museum.  Of course he followed up with, “Want to go with me?”

The St. Louis Art Museum has always been a special place for us.  It was the venue of one of our first non-dates, and the venue of one of our first date-dates.  We knew one another’s favorite pieces and we weren’t afraid of sharing appallingly non-artsy comments with one another like, “OK.  Doesn’t that look like a jenga game?”

Of course, I agreed to go with him.  Upon arriving and after an emergency visit to the facilities, we agreed to begin in the Asian wing.  Now you must know one thing about Husband and I and our art-browsing techniques.  When we find a painting or work that we love, we can’t just stand there and say, “ooooo, ahhhh.”  We have to sit with it.

And so it came to pass that quite unexpectedly, we came to a painting in the Asian wing of SLAM (which had never really been my favorite wing) that made me literally gasp.  It was called “January Hour–Epiphany,” and I remember just wanting to drink it in.  We got closer to the painting and found that there were words painted very subtley in Gold leaf–specifically the passage from John 1 where John the Baptist is asked about his practice of baptizing folks and replies, “I baptize with water.  Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” (John 1:26-27).  I can’t tell you what it was about the painting that captured me so.  But immediately, I knew this was one we needed to sit with.  So we did. 

I continued to drink in the beauty of this painting (which is much bigger and even more stunning in person), when suddenly He who would be Husband was on the floor…  On one knee….  So my mind is racing and at first I’m going, “Why is he on the ground?  Is he ok?  Did he pass out?  No…  He’s upright…  Hmmm…  He seems to have something in his hand…  ACKACKACK!!!!ITSARING!!!!”

I can’t tell you what it is he said–how he asked.  I wonder if he even remembers.  I just remember not being able to breathe, and eventually choking out a yes….  Almost hyperventilating…  Not being able to believe that this was actually happening.  Husband asked if he could kiss me–just once–because we were one of those weird couples who didn’t kiss.   I said yes to that too, and I remember thinking how very soft his lips were.

We sat there a little longer.  When we weren’t staring gooey-eyed into one another’s eyes we continued to drink in the cool, breathtaking beauty of ‘our painting.’  And, ok, yes, occasionally, I stared down at the, also stunningly beautiful, saphire ring on my left hand. 

And that was that.  The rest is history, and five and a half years later, I’m sitting here, wishing that Husband was here with me.  In a couple weeks he will be, and a few weeks after that, he’ll be beside me again to stay, and a new chapter of our lives together will be under way (which is much better than Husband being underway, let me tell you).

So that’s why Makoto Fujimura is special to us.  But even if his painting hadn’t been there to witness the moment of our engagement, he’d still be an incredible artist, with incredible things to say about God, creativity, and community.  The more I learn about him and his take on faith and creativity and art, the more that I hope that being in front of his painting at that moment might be a sort of benediction over our marriage.  I hope so.


7 thoughts on “Engagement Benediction

  1. What a wonderful story. . .I still love remembering how I knew back in 99 that you two would end up together! (really I think it was just a fluke because I’ve never been right about anyone else but oh well!)

  2. Wow, Val. Your story makes me smile. What a cool guy you’ve got there.

    The January Hour-Epiphany painting is indeed breath-taking. I can see the attraction to his work.

  3. Val,
    It’s so wonderful to relive our courtship/dating/engagement times. I pray that this last time away will be exciting and anticipatory (word?) like your engagement. That you’ll dream and plan and give your heart reign to hope for what’s to come. Blessings to you, dear one.

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