I have been reading a lot this week. I love the beach. I love long sunlit days and long moon and star filled evenings. I love timeless moments, napping, reading and writing, and planning and thinking. I love evenings of walking and just enjoying being in my head.
I read this short story a few years ago while I stayed at this condo and reread it this afternoon. It just makes me see very clearly some of my desires.…….some of the lines are so true and move my heart so completely.
Hannah and Nathan is an excerpt from a novel by Wendell Barry called Hannah Coulter. I have not read the novel. I need to. I read Hannah and Nathan again and thought about a dear friend in a situation of single motherhood….not through a war that made her a widow….but through porn and darkness that made her single….a husband who refused to give up all manner of porn….all manner of acting out….. and refused to get healing in a meaningful way.
This young woman is so beautiful and strong…her baby so loved and so lucky to have such a mama.
The story of Hannah is of a woman and her memories of being wooed by a man with his whole life….. with patience and directness….with his strong character……by giving her a glimpse of the life he was offering as well as a glimpse of the man he was in word and deed. He sees her fear and doesn’t give up. He knows a good thing when he sees it and is not deterred in the least by her refusals and hesitations. He sees her beauty and completely gives himself to forging a new life with this lovely woman.
She says at one point, “A woman doesn’t learn she is beautiful from looking in a mirror, which about any woman is apt to do from time to time, but that is only wishing. She learns it so that she actually knows it from men. That tells her. It had been a longish while since I had thought of being beautiful, but Nathan’s looks were reminding me that I was.”
As I read about this strong man who woos this tender and fearful woman…… I could not help but dream for my friend that a man will come and not try to win her with mere chemistry and charisma….but that someone will win her with his character….a showing of who he is and the life he can offer her.
I hope for her a man who is solid like Nathan and like his father…….like her own father.
It makes my heart rejoice to think that there is a man like that just waiting for her…..who will find her when the time is right. He will come and show her that she is beautiful. He will look at her…..really see her…… and will come and not give up even when she cannot look fully back at him because of her fear.
I pray that her man will come and love her baby like Nathan does in this powerful story; that he will have a way with children….….fueled by a love for Christ, a love for his wife, and a love for children that is pure and holy and good. I pray that this man becomes like a son to her mother and father…..a doer…a man who fixes things and steps into messes with a vision and a passion that heals and restores this little family to a strength and wholeness that is beyond the ability of this woman to even imagine right now.
I am already praying this….even before she can begin to lift her eyes out of the trenches…..because she is young and beautiful and needs to live and love again!