Tuesday, March 15, 2016


With a smattering of Solomon's Song
A fiction by

"He's done it again.  Tru's sworn off love he says for the last time."
"Who Truman?  Not again!  Did he write that in an email?"
"Yes.  What I wonder is how he can do that in his line of work?  He's supposed to be the expert."
Jake looked at his wife with a gleam in his eye, "Hey, I thought I was supposed to be the expert!"
Cheri grinned, "Of course, I meant next to you, that is.  But he's your buddy.  You'll have to talk to him.  He gets lower than a snake's belly when he's crossed in his affections."
"Did he drop her or did she drop him?"
"Hmm, let me read down some more.  It looks like he dropped her, as usual.  It's as if he's afraid to let someone get close to him again."
"Probably.  Truman did have a pretty rough time after his breakup with Suzanne.  I don't believe he's truly been serious about anyone since then."
"How long were they together?"

"Almost as long as we have been.  Five years.  Halfway through college and three years after. At least God used his heartache to finally get through to him and to draw him to Himself.  It's just that he hasn't figured out how to go on in the love department, to get past the pain of Suzanne.  Maybe he never will."

"You don't really think that!  Because if that's true, then the world will have nothing left but his current melancholy prose to live on unless he finds joy in his love life again."

"What is it they say, art mimics life?  It's his craft.  He must be good if even I like what he writes."  Jake picked up the small book off the coffee table.  His poetry is sheer beauty.  I never would have dreamed that my college soccer teammate would become a poet.  And not just any poet, but one of today's most popular in our culture."

"I think his appeal goes beyond his words, as good as they are, but it's his gorgeous photography and the way he hides his chalkboard  poems in them.  It's like the Where's Waldo of love poems.  The internet lights up trying to discover where his latest photos are taken and wondering where they will show up next."

"It's certainly sustained his wanderlust enabling him to travel."

"Still, I can't help but see how lonely he is,  But it would take a unique person to fit such a man."

"Oh, no.  I see that look.  Tru has told you in no uncertain terms that you cannot try to set him up again."

"Who me?  Can I help it that I already had asked Jen to go canoeing with us next weekend, the same time when Tru's coming to visit.  He does say here that he wants to go on the river with us to take some pictures, which means he has a new poem he wants to tuck into some photography I imagine."

"He's not going to like it," Jake warned.

"Well, I just hope he's not rude.  You know how brusk he can be.  The man practically growls like a bear.  It's amazing if he lets any woman within ten yards of himself."

"He'll growl all right.  The prettier she is, the more he'll suspect a set-up, and Jen is as pretty as they come, with the exception of you, of course dear. She's just his type."

"You mean slender as a willow and with long dark hair?"


"Well, he'll most assuredly believe we are setting him up.  Do you think I ought to give Jen a warning?" Cheri bit her lip slightly worried.

"You mean that we've invited her to go paddle a canoe with the most taciturn, grouchiest fellow who we know?  Nah, let  it play out.  They'll survive.  We'll just be innocent bystanders."

"That's not fair to her.  I think I ought to at least warn her."

"Whatever you think," Jake conceded.  "But not a word to him, alright?  Just let him know we'll leave at 9Am Saturday morning."

"There, I sent it.  Now I'll just private message Jen a brief little warning about our friend Tru."

"Or, maybe we should just leave it be and let them work it out since it truly wasn't our intention to set them up.  Just remember our promise to Truman, no one is to know who he really is, okay?  It's important to keep his professional secret."

Cheri sighed.  "Of course dear.  Do you think I'd want every eligible female in the state knocking down our door to meet him?  You wouldn't believe what women write on his web page.  Some of it is purely disgusting.  I eliminate nine-tenths of it and only answer the ones which sound sincere in asking after his craft, just like he told me to do.  He has more women begging to marry him than in Henry VIII's dreams."

"Well, he's hired the perfect person to be his private web page secretary, that's for sure,"  Jake caught his wife up around the waist. "You've become quite the counselor to the lovelorn on there as well."

"I do enjoy it, I really do.  Plus, it means I get to work from home."

"How about if I write a poem for you, my love?  Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm hungry, so what's for dinner?"

"You are bad, truly bad, sir," she said laughing, but kissed him anyway.

By the end of the week the picnic lunch was sealed in waterproof bags.  The day promised its sunshine with an azure sky.  One of two canoes was loaded on top of their car as they greeted Jen when she drove up.  Her hair was in a long pony swishing back and forth as she walked up in shorts, a sweater over her tank top and tennis shoes. 

"I've got my sunscreen.  I didn't forget this time,"  she said with a smile.  "Who did you say is coming with us?"

"Umm," Cheri and Jake looked at each other, "I meant to tell you that..."

But just then Tru drove up in his old Broncho lurching into the drive with a mixture of a last spurt of gas and a hard press on his brakes.  "Hey!"  He jumped out and hugged Cheri and pounded Jake on the back.  His beard had grown thicker and longer.  It looked like he'd been working out a lot, Jake thought.  Then his friend turned and noticed Jen who innocently smiled at him.

"Urgg!  I thought I told you..."

Cheri interrupted.  "Tru, this is our friend Jen.  We'd invited her to go out with us this Saturday, and then we got your email so we thought you'd just want to be included as well, as it just so happened."

"As it just so happened my foot," he glowered and not under his breath.

Jen was looking confused. 

Jake coughed and faked a laugh, "Jen, this is our grumpy-bear friend Tru.  He's just got back to town.   We usually go out on the river whenever he comes by in the summer.  It happens to coincide with our promised trip with you.  Here, Tru, lend me a hand to get this canoe up on your car."

As the guys worked to tie it on, Cheri tried to smooth things over, "Don't mind Truman.  Tru's always this way when he meets a girl for the first time.  He's always thinking we're trying to set him up and gets his fur rubbed backward.  His growl is worse than his bite though.  He'll settle down, and it will turn out to be a fun day."

"But you aren't trying to set us up, are you?  I mean, I would feel really awkward if you were, and..."

"No, I promise.  We had this trip planned with you long before he emailed us to say that he would be in town and ready for a canoe trip.  It's pure coincidence."

"Good.  Maybe we could go girls in one canoe and guys in the other."

"I don't think Jake would go for it.  He always wants me with him.  But we'll have fun, I'm sure.  Don't worry.  Besides we're going to have our dog with us."

But Jen was twisting her pony tail nervously with a downcast frown.  She kept glancing over at Tru.  The man presented a perfect picture of manliness even if he had a fierce countenance, neither which she could miss. 

Cheri silently offered up another prayer for their friends, both of whom they loved dearly.  "Jake, Jen and I will go in our car.  That way you and Tru can catch up as you drive to the river, okay?"

"Sounds good, darlin'."

Once at the river, the married couple joked and laughed while their friends were more estranged and worked in silent tandem carrying the canoe over their heads with backpacks slung over their shoulders.

"Ready?" Tru finally spoke.

"Let's pray first like we always do." Jake began as soon as they clasped hands in a small circle.  Tru was holding a small hand in his grip, the pretty one's, as his fingers laced with hers.  He silently prayed for patience while Jake prayed aloud,  "Dear Lord, we ask that you would bless our time in the beauty of your nature, and give us good fellowship and the deepening of our friendship and safety as well, In Your name we pray. Amen."

Jen put on her baseball cap and pulled her pony tail out the back.  Then put on her sunglasses.  She'd brought an inexpensive pair as she didn't want to suffer the lost as she did last year losing her precious Ray-Ban's in the river.  As soon as they waded out a little, Jen got in the front of the canoe with this stranger, Truman whoever he was, behind her.  At least she wouldn't have to look at him though she could swear that she could feel his eyes boring into her back.  It took awhile to relax, but finally relax she did as the sunshine did wonders. 

At first the friends enjoyed the peace of nature, listening to bird song , the lapping of the water on the banks, the swish of the paddles beside the canoe, and the occasional splash of a fish jumping .   Finally, Jake and Tru began throwing back and forth taunts and jests and a race was on. 

Amazingly Jen and Tru worked in sync as a duo in near perfection.  Soon they had pulled ahead and disappeared around a bend leaving their friends behind. 

Jen cheered and raised her fist in triumph over her head.

"Good work, back there.  You've done this before, I'd wager," the man said.

"Yes, many times.  I started going canoeing as a teen at camps with Jake and Cheri in high school when they were my youth workers.  Then I used to help as a counselor when I got older.  Now our college-career group goes out on the river several times throughout the summer.  But they never take a big group out until the water is lower since there's always a novice or two who needd a tamer river excursion.  Jake and Cheri usually ask me to go out with them for their first trip of the summer.  How do you know them?"

"From our university days.  Jake and I were teammates playing soccer.  More recently we reconnected, and he led me to God.  That is, I  had always believed, but had never surrendered my life up till then.  They had been praying for me for years until I was finally ready to accept Him after a life sadly misspent."

"That's wonderful," but Jen became still thinking over what he said. 

"You're a quiet one."

Jen just shook her head, but chanced a quick glance over her shoulder.  He was studying her, so she turned around laying her paddles over her lap while they waited for Jake and Cheri to catch up.  She pulled off her cap and held her face up to the golden sunshine.  Being upon the water was her favorite way to commune with God. 

"So, what do you do for a living?" She glanced over her shoulder again, but he caught her eyes and held them this time with an arched brow. 

"I freelance here and there, work from my computer so that I'm not tied down," was his cryptic answer.

She wouldn't push.  If he'd wanted her to know more, he'd have said more.  Evidently he wasn't one to boast, but his expensive watch, shoes and clothes even though casual bespoke of a man well-heeled in contrast to his old Broncho.   He might have a luxury sports car parked back at his drive for all she knew  He remained an enigma which she was more than willing to allow to remain so.  It mattered not to her.  The only thing she needed to know was that he was a friend to her dear friends, and so she would be polite.  Most of all, she would make it clear that this was not a set up, was no date, and she had no schemes on him.  So what if he was the most handsome man she'd met in a long time--okay, ever-- intensely interesting in his bearing. 

"Row, brothers, row!  the stream runs fast, The rapids are near, and the daylight's past!"  He was quoting softly as if to himself.

"So you're a poet."

He instantly became still.  Finally he spoke.  "Why would you say that?"

"I meant that evidently you like obscure poetry.  Am I right."

He chuckled quietly.  "Yes, I guess you could say that.  I was a literature major in college."

"Naturally, a soccer-playing, canoe paddling, obscure poetry quoting lit major.  Perfect."

"Ha!  You've pegged me perfectly.  How about yourself?"

"Education.  I figured if I wanted summers off, I'd need to become a teacher."

"That's wise, a productive life with a little freedom sketched in."

"Yes, I think I will enjoy being in the classroom, but I'll always long for my time alone."

"That only lasts as long as you are single, M'lady, which in your case, probably won't be too far off in your future."

"I'm in no hurry."  She looked over her shoulder again, "I'm not looking, if that's what you mean."


Finally, Jake and Cheri's canoe appeared, but was quickly going off course as the two were kissing instead of guiding their vessel in the current.

"Hey there Romeo, better look out for the cattails," Tru barked in a loud laugh.  "You're about to spill your Juliet into the brink!"

Jake joined in their amusement quickly paddling back to the middle of the stream.  "Just jealous."

Suddenly, Tru became so quiet that Jen could sense his tenseness.  Evidently Jake missed it.
She glanced back and saw him pensively looking away, gazing off but not seeing.

"How long until we eat?" she called out.

"What!  It's not even 10:30." Cheri acted shocked.

"Okay, just don't blame me if I get the hangeries."

"We'll leave that badge of honor to someone else we know, she nodded her head towards Tru.

"What?  Surely you jest, mon amie!"  Truman had shaken off the earlier stupor to join in their banter.  "I'm the epitome of the virtue of patience and other gentlemanly conduct."

The morning was mellowing into a peaceful time of dipping oars into the water and gently pulling themselves along.

In less than an hour, they paddled to a sandy beach and brought out their lunch to sit upon the bank.  The early summer was beginning its heated halcyon days.  After eating in a companionable manner, Jen laid back with her sunglasses on and rested soaking up the warm sand on her back.  Her muscles were already complaining about a morning of welding a paddle.  She drifted off.

"I think I'll have a walk around and see about taking some photographs," Tru announced quietly with his eyes darting over to the beauty recumbent in a relaxed pose.  

Jake nodded knowingly.  It was one of the reasons his friend loved to come along.  He probably had a poem written in chalk on a slate in his backpack as well as his waterproof camera.  Without a doubt, it would soon be featured and posted on the internet for his clamoring public.  It was a well kept secret . Only a handful were aware of his gift.  They guarded Tru very carefully without ever dropping hints.  The only nod to his work was the book of his poetry on their coffee table.  He used a pen name naturally.

They continued to laze around.  Eventually, Jen woke, sat up and brushed off the sand. 

"Where's Tru?  Does he get lost often?"

"Sometimes.  He loves to wander.  One of his passions is photography."
No one knew he had returned and was not far off through the trees, that he was using his lens to capture the lovely Jen as she was resplendent in her rest.  He wanted to savor this moment even though he normally stuck to scenery.  He kept clicking as she stood brushing the sand off then shading her eyes to peer around.  Jen was one beautiful young woman.  He was just an appreciative camera man, beating back his guilt over his voyeurism, as decent as it was, even as he caught her pulling out her pony tail, combing her hair with her fingers and rebinding it.  He was an artist.  He kept clicking.  She was his subject caught in an unstudied moment.  That was all.  Then why was his pulse racing so?  To ease his guilt, as soon as he rejoined them, he offered to take their picture, Jake, Cheri, and Jen together. 

"You don't mind having your picture taken?" he asked her.

"No, not at all.  In fact, I would love to have a copy."


"Ready to get back on the river?" Jake called.

"Yes.  Some of my favorite parts of our journey, are just ahead.  Do you think the river otters will be there again this year, Cheri?"

"I hope so.  They're delightful."

Any nerves that were taunt had become unwound, and all were relaxed.  Wit and teasing swirled them into a natural relationship.  As uncertain as the day had begun in their introduction, Jen and Tru were acting every bit as old friends by the time they docked their boats.  Another person had been called and was waiting to drive them back to their cars when they beached their crafts.  Jake and Cheri offered to go with him while Jen and Tru waited with the canoes.  He came and sat closely by her on a thick log.  She looked up at him where he was studying her.

"You've been a pleasant surprise today.  I owe you an apology for my rudeness earlier this morning.  I'm sorry, M'lady."  He picked up her hand and kissed it."

Jen had to remind herself to breathe.  She looked away unable to meet his gaze and instead picked up a stick and drew in the sand.  "Our day seemed to get past our initial meeting just fine.  I harbor no ill will."

"So, I'm forgiven?"  He had gently moved her face towards his.

"Yes, forgiven."  She would have given him a wide smile if she wasn't so taken back.  Instead she was searching his eyes for whether he was teasing her or not.

In fact, he seemed to be quite serious as his eyes roved over her face and looked down to her lips before returning to her eyes. 

Jen jumped up and walked back towards the road as if to look for their friends to drive up even though it was too soon for their arrival.  For a man who wished to be left alone from a woman's attentions, Tru seemed to be becoming too familiar, too soon, confusing her.  She looked over to where he was still sitting with his back to her raking his hand through his hair.  She paced.  Just because they had spent a marvelous day on the river, she still knew little about this man other than he was exceedingly handsome and charming and easy to converse with.  But after this day, she would probably not see him again.

She did not sit beside him, did not even speak to him and just stood there waiting with her arms crossed until Cheri and Jake drove up bringing both vehicles.  Their easy banter went swirling around her without her jumping in.  Cheri helped Jake with their canoe to tie it onto their car while Jen helped Tru lift their canoe onto his.  Their friends were ready to leave before they were so they waved them off.  Jen struggled with the knot to tie it down, so Jake came and stood on the running board instructing her to pull down hard on one part of the rope while he whipped it around all the while reaching around her encircling Jen in his arms to do so.

 She felt him sigh deeply when the knot was tied and yet he did not step down.  He bent over her neck and said her name quietly.  Jen turned and looked up at him.  Tru looked at her slowly then once again at her lips.  He was going to kiss her!  Before she could decide what to do, his lips grazed hers as gently as a feather. 

"You are one lovely lady, Miss Jen.  You've captivated me."  Then he released her
and waited for her to buckle up before closing her door and going round to his side.  "You are a quiet one.  Did I upset you by kissing you?"

"I'm just a little confused.  I don't know what to say."

He found her hand.  "Just say you'll let me see you again."

"Perhaps.  Maybe at Cheri and Jake's.  I go there often."

"I'll speak with them and ask if they have any problem arranging for our meeting there."

"Truly, I know very little of you, Truman, except that you are a good canoe-mate on a lazy day on the river."

"That's a good beginning, isn't it?" He said it with a charming smile.

How could she not be taken in?  Yet, from her very limited experience with men, there was a whisper of caution.  Her other dating relationships had quickly deteriorated when the guys had seemed to only be after a physical relationship.  She just wasn't that kind of a girl. 

"To be honest, Tru, I'm not especially looking for a relationship, but perhaps just a friend."

He sighed.  "At least, you are an honest lady.  But I must respond in kind.  I'm cautiously a bit more optimistic about being more than friends.  Am I wrong to have a little hope?"

"No, not completely," she smiled deciding not to shut him out completely, but to give them time to decide if they would become more than friends. 

When they got back to Cheri and Jake's, Tru ordered pizza.  He treated her respectfully and did not try to kiss her or even hold her hand which ridiculously left her wishing he would.  He even sat at a distance across the room.  However, he was always studying her as if to draw a portrait.  They played Balderdash until an early night was called especially since tomorrow was Sunday, a workday for Jake with his responsibilities on the church staff. 

"I'll see you in church?" Tru held her door for her. 


"And lunch?" He still waited.

"I'll think about it." 

He pulled his beard.  "Oh, you're a hard one, Miss Jen.  I'll try to be a patient man."  Again, his charming smile was bestowed upon her before closing her door.

However, the next day, they all decided to order Chinese take-out and go to Cheri and Jake's.  It was a pleasant afternoon.  Tru did not keep any distance this time, but sat close enough for their shoulders to brush sending a strange sensation shooting down her arm to land quivering in her stomach, very strange indeed.  With a feeing of unease, she finally decided she needed to go do her homework.  She was taking summer classes working towards her credential.  She bid them good night. 


After she left Tru began, "Do you believe in love at first sight?" startling his friends.  "What I mean to say is that it is that I realize it is a physical phenomenon that might or might not have a true bearing on actualities."

"What do you mean, Tru?  Do you think you are in love with our Jen?" Cheri teased.

He jumped up and began pacing.  "I've been reading up on it on the internet, well actually I did last night.  I needed to know.  It said that while, okay, it might not be fully encompassed in the heart, but a quick, passionate response is possible.  One's brain can release love-related chemicals in a split second after you see someone.  It is not unlike a drug.  It sparks the same euphoric feeling as cocaine in the brain."

"My, you really have researched this," Cheri said smiling.  "But where does the poetry fit in?"

"Well, when you are love-struck, your brain is flooded with dopamine and other chemicals triggering euphoria.  That's why new lovers do things like talk all night, dote on little details about each other, or fly across the country for a weekend together.  Falling in love also triggers adrenaline which may make your heart race and your knees shake when you're in love.  Love shows all the classic symptoms of addiction.  As a romance builds, a lover craves more and more of the other person.  A breakup can cause withdrawal symptoms like poor sleep and depression.  Scorned lovers can relapse upon hearing something like a favorite song triggering the craving all over again. You both know I've been there, done that."

"You must have it bad, Tru!"  Jake was shocked.

He nodded almost oblivious to them, "In spite of all that, scientists believe that these chemicals help cement emotional bonds between lovers.  The chemicals of romance may wane as ecstasy, but can be replaced by devotion.  So you see, this feeling of love at first sight perhaps might become true love.  These chemical releases can really turn into a lasting love, a very real love, more than just a physical reaction, more than mere infatuation.  Now that's where poetry exists, a pendulum between the ecstasy and the devotion, between the time of being carried away and the commitment that true love demands."

"So where does our Jen fit into this?"  Cherie wanted to know.

The man began pacing again running his hand through his hair until it stood on end.  "I don't know.  She is exquisite, is she not?"

"Yes," Cheri replied.  "She is that."

"And has the depth of an old soul."

"That is a safe assertion." Jake stated.

"She's delightful, beautiful, and charming."

"Yes, we would agree." Cheri bit back her smile.

"She takes her faith seriously, but does not hold herself back from mirth and lightness."

"I think you are speaking as a literature major now, Tru, but yes, she is all that." Jake was grinning.

"She is modest and not too forward," he went on.

"I should hope so," Cheri was letting loose her smile unrestrained.

"Intelligent, with certain delicate mannerisms," Tru was lost to them in his ponderings.

"So you like her?" Jake asked.

"Like her?  I love her!" Tru said passionately. 

"My goodness!" Cheri was even shocked at this, shocked down to the toes of her romantic soul.

"How can you be sure?  You've just met her this weekend."  Jake asked his friend stunned.

"Didn't I just explain it all to you?  What part did you not understand?  Perhaps it was not love at first sight, but certainly love by day's end.  I just don't know how she feels.  She says she wants to be my friend, but oh, how much more I desire to be to her than just a friend!  She is in my very heart, and it is bursting."

"Now there's our poet.  He's back!" Cheri laughed perhaps a little smugly.  "I must admit that I'd hoped you'd hit it off even if we did not purposefully try to set you up. I just hadn't imagined how quickly it would happen."

"You must allow her time, Tru.  You don't want to scare her off.  You are older with more experience while she is young and has not dated much." Jake advised.  "I'd hate to see you let down."

"I can't bear the thought of that.  It's too much," Tru groaned.

"Jen is very cautious around men," Cheri added.

"I know.  She as much as told me.  But it will be hard to contain myself, perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done when all I want to do is sweep her off her feet."

"Jake is right, Tru.  She's told me how men have only seemed to be about one thing when it comes to dating, so she is understandably cautious.  You must win her trust before you can win her heart.  That will take time," Cheri offered.

Tru sank onto the sofa and put his head in his hands, "I know, I know, but what do I do with all this passion I feel?"

"WRITE!" Cheri and Jake said in unison.

He jumped up, "Of course!  But then he sank again.  "Oh, but this is how I doomed my relationship with Suzanne.  She refused to be the fodder for my poetry any longer.  She said I had to chose between her and my art.  But they were inseparable.  She was my muse.  I had determined not to put another through that, but how can I not love and not write about love?  How can I write about love unless I love?"

"Surely, you know you have a gift, Truman.  God does not expect you to go loveless through this life when you have such passion for love and for writing.  When God puts the right woman in your life, she should be willing to embrace your gift.  You never wrote tastelessly about love.  You never put more to paper than was appropriate even before you were a Christian.  You inspire others to be true to their hearts with your poems.  Of course, somewhere along the line before you go too far forward, you will have to tell her what you do and who you are.  God can lead you from there."

"Yes,  of course.  Well, thank you, dear friends, thank you for bringing about this phenomenal connection.  Yes, and pray, pray that I can be patient and that the lady accepts me."

"We'll pray that you will keep your head screwed on, Tru.  You almost scare me," Jake admitted.

"I know, I know.  Well, I'm off to probably be up all night writing."

And he was.  But first he read the beginning of Genesis and then the whole book of the Song of Solomon, then a favorite old poem by Reginald Heber. 

"When on Her Maker's Bosom"
The new-born earth was laid,
And nature's opening blossom
It's fairest bloom displayed;
When all its fruits and flowers
The laughing soil was drest,
And Eden's fragrant bowers
Received their human guest;
No sin his face defiling,
The heir of nature stood,
And God, benignly smiling,
Beheld that all was good!
Yet in that hour of blessing
A single wish was known;
A wish the heart distressing;
For Adam was alone.
O God of pure affection!
By men and saints adored,
Who gavest thy protection
To Cana's nuptial board,
May such thy bounties ever
To wedded love be shown,
And no rude hand dissever
Whom thou hast linked as one!"
This inspired him to write...


Be My Eve, My Love, to My Adam 

When first God laid you upon my chest,
 He had created you from my rib
freshly pulled from the cage of my heart.
Our hearts pounded, beat to beat.
Then as you pulled back and stood apart,
it became syncopated in musical accent.
So what is this, this symphony of beats
which grows to a timpani of pounding?
That beats against the bars
as if to beg to admittance 
inside the cage of my heart
from whence you came.


Then he wrote something that would fit upon his next slate...
My breath is caught,
My heart doth race
Ecstasy, euphoria
has found its place.
It's you I crave.
He knew he would return to that same stretch of sand where she had rested to place this small prose written on a slate, to take a photograph of the place where he found he had totally, irrevocably fallen in love.  He would return to that place where his heart first had raced, pounded, until he allowed himself to yield to the idea, to let God form an idea of a helpmeet sweet to his soul, the place where she had first ravished his heart.  Tru sighed.  He was a goner alright.
He would ask Jake to go with him on his poetic mission on the morrow.  Finally, he fell to dreams of long brown hair gently blowing in the breeze across her sleeping face on a bed of sand.
When Tru woke up late even for him, he was jolted alive with the thought of her.  He jumped out of bed and began writing some more.  It was an hour before he even thought of making coffee.  

Forever doth not seem too long
To taste the pleasures of our love.
The fruit of the tree of life
Must by its nature
Satiate never an end
 to endless love.

He read and thought of her...
'As the apple tree,
 among the trees of the wood,
so is my beloved...
I sat down under (her) shadow
with great delight, and (her) fruit
was sweet to my taste.'
Song of Solomon 2:3
Then he dressed and went to find Jake.  He wanted to ask Cheri to allow him to once again provide a dinner, to ask Jen to join them.  They had exchanged numbers and emails and such last night.  He texted her.  But she refused him saying she had classes and school work.  What was this?  Was she putting him off or did she truly need to study?  He texted her again asking when he could speak with her on the phone.  She said she would let him know tomorrow.  Tomorrow?  It could not be! 

Jake was busy, though he offered to pick Tru up once he called after completing his quest by canoe.  But once he returned Tru was still in turmoil.  The river had not done its magic to calm him.  It had flooded him with emotions while alone in the bark, more so on the very sand where she had laid..  He paced.  He yelled there by the quiet waters.  He prayed.  Then he texted her again.

"O my dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret places...
let me see thy countenance,
let me hear thy voice,
for sweet is thy voice,
and thy countenance is comely."
(Song of Solomon 2:14)

Then he wrote...

Hide not away
your beauty from me.
Thoughts of
your face, your voice
are tucked away
 in the secret places
of my heart.
But they are mere shadows
 of my desire for you.
He received a text back.  Okay.  Tonight.  You may call tonight at 9.  Tru did  a dance, a Scottish jig he'd learned on those green shores.  He called at ten till 9.  He could not wait a second longer to hear her voice.  They talked till one in the morning.  The next day she had classes.  But he left her a text anyway...

"Who is she
that looketh forth
as the morning,
fair as the moon,
clear as the sun...
Return, return...
return, return,
that (I) may look upon thee."
(Song of Solomon 6:10m 13)

Then he wrote...

As I sit on top of the world,
I can see the sun and the moon from here.
They rise and set with you, only you.
But I'm spinning too slowly
on the axis of my longing
to see you once again.
She called him the next afternoon.  That was a good sign, a very good sign.  He took her to dinner then came over to her apartment to sit and read beside her as she did her homework, shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm.  Finally, he put his book away and just held her as she read her textbook  while he studied her face.   He drank her in as a man in a drought longed for a cool drink.  When they parted that night, she let him kiss her, just once.  He left bereft, desiring more, so much more.  She was tired so he refrained from calling her again, but just barely.  Instead he left her another text.

"Thou art beautiful, O my love...comely...
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me."
(Song of Solomon 6:4-5)

Then he wrote...

How shall I survive
 so overwhelmed by your beauty
that I cannot even meet your eyes
without being consumed? 
Once that was sent, he wrote some more.  He prayed for her, for himself, for them.  He pondered when to tell her who he truly was.  Tru did not want Jen to feel as if he had deceived her.  He could not wait much longer.  He did not want anything to come between them, feeling the need to come clean soon.  He drowned these thoughts as he wrote of what a future could mean...

"Let me enfold you in my love,
as close as heaven here on earth,
the only place where nakedness
knows no shame when we are one.
In cleaving, I will not be leaving
you alone, my love, my heart,
my very breath which you snatch away.
You were formed just for me, and I for thee.
I crave only you for ever and on.
That next night, he took her out to eat at the nicest place in town. They drove in her car which was much cleaner than his Broncho.  She picked up a little book off the seat and his heart thudded.  It was his.  He realized it was time.  Once parked, he picked it up.

"Do you like this?" he ventured nervously.
"I love it.  Do you know about this author?"  She was all innocence.
"Yes, I'm familiar with his work."
"Of course you are.  You're a lit major who's into poetry.  Don't you just love it?  I enjoy his photography, but I love, love, love this edition of his book because I want to just see the words without distraction.  They pierce my heart.  Don't get me wrong I follow him online to see what he publishes next -- I'm as curious as the next person -- but sometimes I just want to curl up with his words.  I can read it over and over.  I can't imagine being loved like that." 
They got out of the car.

He was pacing on the lawn with the book in his hand.  "Have you ever wondered about the man who wrote this?"

"Come sit down on the grass and we can read some poems together," she urged.  She took the book back out of his hand.

So he sat.  "Well, what do you think the man is like who wrote this?"
"I have wondered, of course.  He's never posted his picture.  He's probably some white haired, bent over old man with a laugh in his heart.  Oh, but he has a beard.  I've always imagined him with a beard.  I can tell from his earlier work though, that he had at some point in his life a terrible heartache.  He became sober, no longer drunk on love.  But the last couple of things that he has posted very recently are like he perhaps has turned a corner, has maybe recovered or found a new love."
"Yes, he has.  I know for a fact he has."
"How?"  She still looked up naively, but questioning.
"I know him."
She sat up straight.  "No.  Wait.  You do?"
"Quite well.  I would like to introduce you, in fact."
"Oh, my goodness!  I could ask him to sign my book for me.  Truly?  You can really introduce us?"  She was astounded.
"Yes.  In fact, I can do it right now."  With that he picked up her copy of his book and turned to where his pen name signature was printed on the front piece. Then he signed his real name underneath.  He hoped she would see the similarity in the handwriting. Next he wrote, "To Jen, 'How fair, how pleasant art thou, O love for delights.'"(Song of Solomon 7:6)
She read it, studied it, looked at him, read it again, then gasped as he waited.  Her mouth opened, then shut.  Her eyebrows crooked up, then down.  "Are you telling me something here?"
He kissed her hand.  "Yes."  Then he quoted his newest poems, the ones he'd written just for her, the two most recently posted. 
A single tear trickled down her cheek.  "So this is what you do freelancing?  I thought the most recent post looked too familiar.  It had an uncanny resemblance to a sandy beach I had just laid upon."  She chewed her lip.  "So you are my poet, truly."
He kissed her hand, her wrist, her palm.  "You, Jen, are my inspiration, my love.  I am quite drunk on love, in fact."  His voice was like words on a dry streambed so parched he could barely speak waiting for her to rain on him and fill the course of his life.
"You."  She shook her head, then looked at him very closely.  "It really is you."
"Yours and only yours, Jen."  He wiped away another tear which escaped down her cheek.
"This is not fair.  You are not fighting fair.  How can I defend myself against such an onslaught, from one who has had his words published a million times over, his words of love?"
"I'd be most assuredly happy if you'd just surrender, M'lady." He kissed her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks then sat back waiting.
She looked deeply into his eyes.  This time he quoted another passage from the Song of Solomon,
"Behold, thou art fair, my love...
Thou hast doves' eyes within thy looks;
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet." 
(3:1, 3)

Then he kissed her lips, her thread of scarlet.
She pulled back.  "Jake and Cheri know, don't they."
"Yes.  In fact, Cheri is my personal secretary for my web page."
"So that's why she's vague about her job.  Now it makes sense."
"They had to promise to keep my work a secret."

"Of course.  You would be mobbed otherwise."

"That's an unpleasant thought.  But do you forgive me for not telling you sooner?"

"Most assuredly.  I understand why you would need to be careful.  I will respect your secret as well, I promise you."

They talked some more, then he left her.  His heart was so full it pained him fiercely.  She gave him hope.  He texted her as soon as he got home.

"Thou hast ravished my heart,
my sister, my spouse;
thou hast ravished my heart
with one of thine eyes...
How fair is thy love,
my sister, my spouse! 
How much better is thy love than wine!"
(Song of Solomon 4:9-10)

She texted him swiftly back.
"Thy lips, O my spouse,
drop as the honeycomb:
honey and milk are under thy tongue."
(Song of Solomon 4:11)
She made him smile with a warmth that grew to a fire in his chest.  Could she love him? He texted her again...

"I adjure you...
If you find my beloved,
as to what you will tell (her):
For I am lovesick.
What kind of beloved is your beloved,
O most beautiful among women?
What kind of beloved is your beloved,
That thus you adjure us?
My beloved is dazzling..
Outstanding among ten thousand."
(Song of Solomon 5:8-10)
Jen texted back...

"His head is like gold, pure gold;
His locks are like clusters of dates,
And black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves,
Beside streams of water...
His mouth is full of sweetness.
And he is wholly desirable.
This is my beloved
and this is my friend."
(Song of Solomon 5:11-12, 16)
It was all he could do not to get in his car and drive back over to her.  But he dared not and knew they could not be alone in her apartment again.  He would need Cheri and Jake to be chaperones for her love was driving him to distraction.  He could barely be restrained.   Despite Jake's warning, he had completely lost his head and heart.

Jen was awake most of the night thinking of him, his words, his poetry, his kisses.  She felt so inadequate in comparison to his depth.  But her heart was singing.  She did not know what to do, what to think, so she called Cheri when she woke.
"What am I going to do?  I don't deserve him."
"What on earth are you talking about?  You are the best gift God ever gave to Tru!" Cheri assured her friend.
"Then how come I feel so unworthy?" Jen asked with her heart so tightly bound with worry that she could hardly breathe..
"You are the same person who paddled a canoe with him, aren't you?"
"And he is the same obnoxiously rude man that I first met."  The tightness in Jen's chest loosened slightly.
Cheri chortled. "You can be very assured that he would never look at another woman now that he has fixed his gaze upon you, Jen.  He loves you sincerely, deeply, and has fallen ridiculously quickly into love.  You've read his poetry to you.  You can see the difference in him now."
"Yes.  I am just stunned.  I don't know quite what to do with my heart.  He has swept me up and spun me around so that I am dizzy.   But I must think responsibly."
"What would you say to Jake and I doing a Bible study with both of you.  It's one we use for pre-marital counseling.   I know it is all just happening, but I think that is how it has to be for Tru.  He's an all or nothing kind of guy. He lives in his immediate passion.  We have been praying that God would send just the right person for him, Jen.  I believe you are the answer to that prayer."
"I am?  I get that Tru is like that.  Yes, I think that would be a very good idea, maybe putting some brakes on all this to slow it down, to put our feelings for each other into a deeper river that is more controlled than this flood of emotions.  It's just so wild.  I can't stop my heart from beating out of my chest."
Cheri laughed softly.  "Tru can explain all that.  He described it to a scientific "T" in fact.  But tell me, Jen.  What are you looking for in a man."
Suddenly Jen could not think hardly beyond Tru.  He was all she had ever desired and more.  But she tried to clear her head.  "I want someone who is godly, who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit, who is loving and protective, honorable, enjoys laughter and the outdoors, someone who wants a family and is ready to settle down, someone who loves reading--okay, I'll say it, literature, poetry.  Are you satisfied now?  Did I leave anything out?"
"Just his name.  I think you just described your Tru-man."
That night they met at Jake and Cheri's.  It was late because Jake had a meeting at the church first.  Jen tried to study for a test, but it was useless, and she put her notes down while they waited.  She leaned on Tru as they whispered their thoughts back and forth until Jake got there.
Jake began in prayer.  "Dear Father, You who are love, who created your children first in the Garden to be a picture of your love, the man and woman to desire each other with a desire you gave as a precious gift, may you bless Jen and Tru in their budding relationship.  Help it to be nurtured and to bloom in your time as You see fit.  Help us to help them, to guide them into a Christian understanding of marriage.  Help them to keep the guards on their relationship until you make them one in Your sight.  We ask this in You Son's name, Amen."

Both Jen and Tru had tears in their eyes when he was done praying for them.  But the next hour brought laughter as well as solemn examination of their hearts.  It helped them to reveal more of what would be vital in their knowledge of each other, acknowledging their strengths and weaknesses.  It helped to have their trusted friends to guide them through Scripture and godly counsel.  They also promised to have accountability as boundaries in their physical relationship as well.  The racing of their hearts would need that kind of restraint.
By the time they were done, Jen's heart was set firmly in a love beyond compare.  She'd had no idea of such joy.  She did not know how she could sleep tonight, how she could go to school tomorrow and be apart from him whom she now knew without a doubt she loved.  It was the tenderest of moments when he bade her goodnight with a kiss of longing.

Once at home she read his text...
"I sleep, but my heart waketh:
it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh,
saying, Open to love, my dove, my undefiled;
for my head is filled with dew,
and my locks with the drops of the night.
(Song of Solomon 5:2)

Then he wrote...

What is sleep if my dreams are of you
as real as my every waking moment.
The beating of my heart is knocking,
opening only to you,
my innocent, my love.

Sweet dreams, my love.  I know I will have them filled with you.
She wrote back...
"Stir not up, nor awake, my love till he please."
(Song of Solomon 2:7)
You hold my heart.  Sleep well.
Every evening when Jake and Cheri were free, they met at their house to do the Bible study-counseling session.  If they were not, she and Tru were careful to stay in public places like restaurants, coffee shops, or to go on walks in parks.  When darkness fell they would go their separate ways but later talked on the phone for hours.  Her school work suffered, but she would pass.  At this point, that's all that mattered.

On the last night of their study, Tru informed them all that he had to fly to New York to meet with his publisher.  He watched Jen's face as he told them.

"He loves my new poems.  Thinks they are inspired, thanks to you."  He kissed her cheek.

But he would be gone for a week.  Jen's heart plummeted irrationally. 
"I'm going to miss you unbearably," he began once they were alone as he drove her home.
"I don't know how I'll manage.  You've filled my thoughts, my days, my heart so completely, that I will be utterly devoid of all that has found meaning in my life," she sighed.
They were in her driveway and the car was turned off.  She fell into his arms hugging him as if she could not let him go.

"I swore I'd never be like this, to lose myself so completely in another that I could not function without them.  But here I am.  I'll be helplessly lost without you." Her breath shuddered within her.
"Hopefully, it will be the last time we will be apart," he said with his breath warm on her ear in the closeness of his embrace.  "Next time I want to take you with me, you know."
"I never dreamed of seeing New York."
"There are so many places I want to take you.  The North, the South, The West, Alaska, The Rockies, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Italy."
"You've been there already haven't you, in all those places?  I remember your photography."
"Yes, but I will see them with fresh eyes with you along.  Think what a honeymoon we will have.
I guess I'm getting ahead of myself, but  you will marry me, won't you, Jen?  I mean I will devise a fantastic down on my knees proposal with a ring still to come if you like, but you have to know I am determined to marry you.  I could never ever let you go."
"I would never want you to.  Yes, Tru, I will marry you, and in the near future, I hope.  This suspended love will never do."
His joy spilled over into laughter.  "You have made me the most blest man in the whole world, my love."  Then he kissed her without his gift of words, just passion.  He was her Tru-man, a godly man full of God's grace and unquenchable love.

The week apart gave her time to plan a wedding with Cheri's help.  It would be small, but beautiful in a little stone chapel on their university campus with an outdoor reception where they launched their canoes by the water.  It was her surprise gift to him, to be ready for his asking.  She even found a simple gown that needed no tailoring.  Her small family were on standby to come.  All they lacked was a date that they would pick together.  Her classes were now over.  In the meanwhile, he texted her from New York a different verse each day from these...
"Come my beloved, let us go forth into the field;
let us lodge in the villages...
I would lead thee, and bring you to my mother's house...
(Song of Solomon 7:11, 8:2)

it is time to be together.
It matters not where.
 Only come to me, my love,
Let me lead you there
 to our forever.

"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness,
leaning upon her beloved?"

He wrote...

Lean on me, my beloved,
 as my heart rests on you
as we make our way.
 I am no longer lost
 in the wilderness,
for I have found you.

His left hand should be under my head,
and his right hand should embrace me.

He wrote,

My fingers tangle in your hair
As I cradle you for a kiss,
With my hand upon your back,
I fall deeper into bliss.

She wrote back laments of missing him, but promises of what their future held...
"By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him, but found him not.
I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets,
and in the broad ways I will seek whom my soul loveth:
I sought him, but I found him not.
The watchmen that go about the city found me:
to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
It was but a little that I passed from them,
but I found him whom my soul loveth:
I held him, and would not let him go,
until I brought him into my mother's house,
and into the chamber of her that conceived me."
(Song of Solomon 3:1-4)

" our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits,
new and old, which I have laid up for thee,
O my beloved."
When he returned he never thought his heart could hurt worse than when they were apart, but now her nearness erupted in him a pain of longing.  They were walking along the river where they had first put the canoes in.

"Can we get married yesterday?  I can't wait much longer.  Here, look at my most recent post.  It's from Central Park."
She smiled as she held his phone.
"Until we part no more,
My heart will walk outside my body.
My tongue will cleave to the roof of my mouth.
I starve for your sweetness,
I hunger to graze upon your lips.
How can this be with you and me?
This fasting of desires unmet?
Come, my love,
for only you can satiate me. 
Will you marry me?"

She gasped

He had carefully held his slate with this poem inscribed while holding a ring with only his hands showing so as not to give away his identity and posted it on the internet.  But here and now he suddenly was down on his knee there in the sand.  He was holding a ring.  "Tell me one more time, that you will marry me, sweet Jen."
"Yes, yes, yes.  I can't bear another week apart.  Say the date.  Everything else is arranged.  All has been taken care of but that."  He slipped the ring onto her finger.
"Really?  Tomorrow then?"
"Not quite that soon, silly goose, but how about next week, say on Saturday."
He hugged her lifting her off her feet to spin around.  "Thank you God!  You are so good!"  He yelled out his praise into the wild.

But the verse that they chose to seal their hearts at their wedding was simply this...
"I am my beloved's,
and my beloved is mine."
Inspired by the secular poet Tyler Knott Gregson








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