When Cindy and I were first married, we received a $3.95 paperback book as a gift from a wise, older man. He was a seminary professor who was well-versed in Greek and Hebrew, but his gift was an unpretentious book of stories by Arthur Gordon titled, A Touch of Wonder. "This book has meant as much to me as any other," our friend said. "Read it and celebrate the gift of bright encounters together."
The book is full of simple things. Stories of Gordon's children. Tales of meteor showers and days spent fishing. In the introduction, Gordon writes about the underlying theme: "Almost always there's a lot more to these commonplace happenings than meets the casual eye—and most people would find a lot more in them if only they would pause and look and feel and care just a bit more than they do."
Now, nearly 20 years later, we both recall Gordon's words and marvel at the truth they contain. It's through our marriage that we've each encountered windows to the world that, without the other person, might have been shuttered from view. And despite what we expected, our most cherished moments aren't just the biggest ones—such as our wedding day or the days we brought children into the world. We've found that the simple events, the daily encounters, have offered the richest experiences. Before we met, for instance, my idea of classical music was the Moody Blues' 1967 hit, "Nights in White Satin." But when we became friends, and shared our music collections with each other, we listened to one of Cindy's favorite musical pieces, Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No. 2." Through that single window a vista to the wonders of classical music was opened for me. Cindy's musical tastes also ran the gamut, but until our journey together began, they didn't include the spiritually flavored folk/rock vistas of Van Morrison, Bruce Cockburn, or Brooks Williams. Since I introduced her to them, these musicians have become a part of her life.
Traveling has afforded us other windows through which to peer. Cindy has a passion for enjoying the natural world—the starfields of a desert sky, the awkwardly shaped cacti in Joshua Tree National Park, a red-tailed hawk spiraling upward on a thermal. On one occasion, we carved out an afternoon to go hiking in Michigan along a dune-drifted shoreline. Another time, we opted to journey to the town where I grew up. We trekked back to the vacant lots where I played baseball, visited old schools, and picked our way along the railroad trestle I walked daily as a kid. I shared memories that helped Cindy make more sense of my "story." These times spent together forged deeper bonds between us, helping us learn a little more about what makes us who we are.
Another avenue of encounters together has been through reading. We're both passionate bibliophiles, but our book stacks reflect wildly different genres. Yet the commitment to share our individual literary encounters—reading passages aloud to each other before we go to sleep, sharing the excitement of a wonderful new author—has marked our lives in significant ways. I shared my copy of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek with her. It became her favorite book. She, in turn, introduced me to the world of fiction—a genre I used to dislike—and its power to captivate, teach, and entertain.
Yet not every shared encounter results in delight.
I still don't appreciate Thai food, and Cindy still likes her peanut butter crunchy, not plain. When Cindy indulges her passion for fishing, I tag along, opting for a book rather than bait. Sharing our passions and interests doesn't mean we have to be the same. Rather, we stay open to new experiences while we celebrate our differences.
For us, marriage continues to be an adventure. While we both cherish our unique identities, we find that sharing the journey together enriches our lives and opens new windows of discovery. So we strive to notice the details, no matter how small, and we look forward to the memorable encounters just around the corner.
Jeff and Cindy Crosby have been making new discoveries together for 19 years. Jeff is Sales and Marketing Director at InterVarsity Press; Cindy is the author of the forthcoming The Nature of Prayer (Paraclete).
2002 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.