The Glorious Debris

I just got back from LA, and the somewhat painful confluence of helping to take care of my mother who is just out of the hospital, and my family bridal shower. It was so many emotions all at once that I think I need to take a nap for a week. On the flight home, I picked up an Oprah magazine so I wouldn’t have to think, and was confronted with this quote that sums up what it’s like to get married when you’re dealing with other life events, with feelings of grief and fear, or goodness knows what else:

“Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, the loss of a job… And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another – that is surely the basic instinct… Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.” – Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson

So that is for each of you, who like me, are having complicated journeys to the altar. Or in other words, “A difficult beginning is a good sign.

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  • "Come, my friends.
    T'is not too late to seek a newer world.
    Push off, and sitting well in order smite
    The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
    To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
    Of all the western stars, until I die.
    It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
    It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
    And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
    Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are–
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."


  • k

    This certainly struck a cord. My father got out of the hospital only a week before my family shower last weekend. I've been thinking about what I will remember about that day–the panini press or how pale he looked…
    It's been a reality check in my wedding planning.

  • Ours started almost 2 weeks to the day after we got married. And now that that issue is getting resolved or at least manageable we had 1 car drop it's tranny and another developed engine problems. That was just Friday and Saturday. Let's hope the week gets better.

  • My thoughts go out to you and your mom and your family. I hope that things are getting better.

    And yes to all of this, which really goes to counterbalance the very WIC-y notion that our weddings are these days of exception in our crazy lives, as opposed to very much part of them. That they are perfect, that they are fairytales when ordinary thoughts and needs and fears melt away. Our weddings do not exist in a vacuum, and life is very rarely joyful without being a little messy and stressful at the same time. "Time to take this life for what it is"–perfect.

  • LPC

    Meg, so sorry to hear about your mother. I hope she recovers quickly and well. I am sure she was so glad to have you there, although of course she would be wanting you to focus on your wedding, being a mom and all.

  • Meg, I'm so sorry about your mom. I hope she makes a strong and speedy recovery.

  • Things like this certainly give you perspective as to what is really important in life. My husband's grandfather passed away the week we were getting married, and the funeral ended up being the day before the wedding. It threw many more emotions into an already bubbling pot. It also rained the entire week leading up to our wedding day. The rain stopped in the morning, and the sun came out during the ceremony. Everyone felt it was because Grandpa was there. Bittersweet.

    All the best with your family.

  • Whatever "they" tell us, weddings are not fairytales – they are part of real, messy life. Good luck with navigating the rapids – best wishes for you and yours.

  • I read the following last night, and it's reminded me that it's ok to mourn, it's ok to cry, and it's ok that life goes on, shifting sand, all that stuff.

    There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under heaven:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,

    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,

    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,

    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

  • All the best to your mom…

  • Meg, you must have magic in you somewhere. You always say the thing that needs to be said at the moment at which it needs to be said.

    I will keep your mother in my thoughts.

  • Prayers coming your way…. I am 10 days newlywed and picked up the magazine on our drive home from the honeymoon. It really hit me, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love reading them.

  • ycd

    I read your blog constantly, but this is the first time I've been compelled to comment. I lost my father almost 10 months ago and it has made wedding planning very bittersweet, but I know we have to take joy where we can find it. I too read this quote in O magazine and saved it. Thank you for your words and spirit. All the best to you.

  • Meg – my thoughts are with your mom for a speedy recovery. And when I read "complicated journey to the altar" I thought that truer words have never been blogged.

  • Amy

    "Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen."
    D.H. Lawrence

  • I've started buying that book for my friends as they become mothers–it seems like the whole thing is about transition and balance and the meaning of family. Good things to keep in mind when getting married, too!

    I hope things are well with your mother!

  • All the best to you and your mother. My fiance's family has been going through some difficult times, as has mine, so I can empathize. I really like this quote – thank you for sharing!

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    no words, just hugs and a few tears.

  • April

    Best wishes, Meg.

    Sending you and yours a healing hug thru the ether.

  • Cate Subrosa

    (((Meg and family)))

  • i have saved this post in my google reader for quite a while now, as that quote meant so much to me. thank you so much for sharing.

  • I love going through your older posts. There’s always something relevant and something helpful for whatever it going on.