Saying “Yes” To More Than a Dress

One stormy winter’s day, the stork braved the wind and blowing snow and delivered a dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned, infant beauty to our farmhouse. She was third born in what would be a brood of four. Twenty some years later, in that same farmhouse, by the light of the crackling fire on Christmas Eve, she said “yes” to a marriage proposal. The stork lifted a lazy eyelid and looked at the farmhouse with mild interest.

Much ado is made of proposals and weddings, and they truly are hallmarks in a person’s life if they choose to take the path of marriage. A show on TV, filled with drama and silliness, was created all around a woman finding the perfect wedding dress and saying “yes” to that dress. A lovely wedding dress is a beautiful thing, but the heart, soul, and mind that fill the dress is where the real beauty lies. And that beauty is a beauty that invites one to say “yes” long before (and long after) there is a dress to consider.

Long before August 2017, our farmhouse bride nodded yes to the hard and hidden work of cultivating an interior landscape where thoughtfulness and self-awareness are nurtured and blossom. Interior landscape design is never loud or flashy – it’s a quiet and often unnoticed work that, though solitary in nature, reaches out and beyond our own selves. As a young child, she took on the rigours of hours of piano practice leading the way to not only the mastery of an instrument but also to the discipline of continued hard work (and beautiful live concerts in the farmhouse living room on a daily basis!). She paid attention to her friends, learning to navigate the sometimes tricky arena of female friendships, and developed loyalty and goodwill in her response to others. She said yes to risk by moving to a city far from the known safety of her rural, farmhouse home. That move has opened up her world to a whole new place to call home.

This work of interior landscape, soul work, heart work, it does not or should not, end in the twenties, nor is it dependant on marriage. It is a lifelong work, a work with invitation attached to it. Each day, each season brings with it fresh pickings that are available for harvest if we take time and gaze long. For a harvest to happen, something needs to be planted, nurtured, and let alone to mature and flesh out. Successes and failures, the humdrum and the deep joy of the everyday, growth and loss all come to us with an invitation to say some kind of, though not a naïve kind of, yes.

It may be too, that saying yes to cultivating an interior harvest means saying no to exterior push and pull. My sister, an artist who paints with oils, has referred to negative spaces in a painting, those areas that are devoid of busyness. These negative spaces are necessary and critical to the overall canvas. Breathing room. Not filling every inch of the painting with line and colour. It creates a scene where the theme of the painting is allowed to emerge with more clarity. So too, the negative spaces in our lives, those spaces that aren’t filled with line, brush stroke, and colour, allow the essence of who we are to emerge with richer presence on the canvas.

Our lovely, beautiful August bride, side by side with her dapper groom, has said yes to having and holding from that day forth. By the end of the day, her dress hem was greyed with dust and dirt from tramping through orchard and field and dancing with abandon on that cement shop floor. That dress now lies discarded and unused on the bed of her farmhouse bedroom. It will forever linger in the memory of the day, but it is spirit of who she is, of who they are, that will give shape to their life.

“May God bless you and keep you,

May God smile on you and gift you,

May God look you full in the face and give you peace.”

( All photos by Hannah Durston Photography)

Published by Judy

On the edge of Waterloo county resting sedately on knoll, is an old stone house looking out towards the Grand River. This stone house and farm has been in my husband's family for years. We have been graced to call this place home for the last thirty years. Our best crop has been our four children. After years of immersing myself in raising and educating our family, the proverbial nest has slowing been emptying, opening up space for me to fill with other pursuits. Both writing and photography have been knit into my everyday living since I was very young. Sharing them is both a bit of a dream and a bit of a nightmare. But living small and in fear shrivels up a life. My thoughts are musings on God, aging, family, and simply living. My shelves are lined with books, my baskets are brimming with skeins of yarn, my closet shelves are stacked with apparel, my cellar shelves are chock full of home canning - all testaments to my inclinations. Our journeys are not solitary affairs. As I share bits of my journey with you, I hope you will be enticed to look more closely, listen more attentively, and live with abandon. May God's peace rest on your journey. Judy

4 thoughts on “Saying “Yes” To More Than a Dress”

  1. Phyllis Montgomery says:

    Oh my! “The stork lifted a lazy eylid…” “…the heart, soul and mind that fill the dress is where the real beauty lies.” “…the hard and hidden work of cultivating an interior landscape where thoughtfulness and self-awareness are nurtured…” and on and on! Another exquisitely-written, profoundly insightful passage with beautiful pictures that enhance and extend the ideas conveyed. May I turn the concluding prayer back on you, affirming that He has, indeed, gifted you?!!

    1. Judy says:

      Thank you Phyllis. I will indeed receive that prayer from you. And may it be so for you too!

  2. Renee Tougas says:

    Gorgeous writing. I treasure that I know your daughter and son-in-law and call them friends.

    1. Judy says:

      Thank you Renee. And we are so glad for they have found a place of belonging in Montreal. Thanks for being part of that.

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