Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cherry Blossom Perfection...First Year Anniversary Reflection

Oh, what a treat you are all in for...yes that is right...it is a blog with Grant as the author. If you have ever endured one or some of my writings before then you know what is coming, if not, well prepare yourself. Yes I can get lengthy, but I try to keep it fun; yes I get deep, but I am no scholar; yes it might be a little repetitive or overstated, my mind is slightly unorganized (as some of you might have witnessed in other areas); and yes there will be grammatical errors and enigmas, so please bear with me. Having finished my short introduction and disclaimer lets proceed to the meat.

Hmm...where to begin...oh yeah, We made it! One year and counting. That's right people, one more God graced testament for the world to witness on how two outrageously stubborn, passionate, and very different (at times) people can continue to shatter the odds, overcome new world thinking, and grow stronger together (with a little help!). For those of you yet to be married it might still be a mystery and a little uncomprehensible; but for those of us who are married, especially those far more ...umm... mature in their marriage, one must marvel at the miracle that is manifested every year, week, and day in a successful marriage. Successful: def. A continuing struggle to stay afloat, alive, breathing, unscathed from trying to honor, love, romance, etc., and forgive what seems an endless stream of faults in your partner (while somehow grossly overlooking your own); in the end realizing it is a struggle for both, not one, repenting to each other and God, and finally many glorious moments of making up, enjoying each others forgiveness, and resting in each others love once again... ready to start it all over. And of course this can occur and reoccur in all time measures, that is within only minutes to a dragged out grudge lasting months. Okay, seriously, this could be one LONG rant covering all the trials and elations we have gone through in this first year but most of you know most of them anyway; so let me try to wrap this up and move on to its culmination tale. Most importantly is this, we set out on this journey with one true ultimatum...With God's help this was for GOOD, divorce is not an option...and to that we hold! There have been slips, times when we were hanging on by fingertips, even desiring to let go; but by God our grip maintained and even grew stronger.

So....you might be wondering... how did the Boatwright's celebrate this victory. Well as usual I came up with a brilliant idea, and as usual it was not going to work out the way I wanted(haha). There is a cherry blossom festival every year in Jinhae, South Korea, and Jashley having just invested in a brand spanking new top-of-the-line camera, I thought it would be an awesome opportunity for some new experiences and photography exploring. However, the last weekend for the festival was the weekend before, not the weekend of our anniversary. Jashley graciously waived this aside saying it would be just as special, so off we went. I am now a big fan of trains when touring a country as it allows you maximum comfort (not having to drive), speed (just as fast as driving if not faster), and views (not the sometimes unrealistic view from a plane window) to really satisfy the traveler who likes to take it all in. And of course, like most other things in Korea, cheap. After a little mix up with train transitions (yeah for Grant's lack of reading skills when he can't tell the difference between Dondeagu station and Deagu station) and not booking the right arrival station in the city we were staying in (there were two in the city, and guess which one we arrived at), we DID arrive at our hotel in Changwon. This did however turn out to be a very nice hotel, which seemed at the time to be in a very small town center. Jumping ahead a little...we did find out this was only a little offchute town of the main city where we had dinner, and this is of note because it wasn't till dinner that we really realized what a beautiful city it was.

It is now around three, so we were off toward Jinhae and with what I hoped to be a very spectacular display of nature. With the help of the very cordial hotel receptionist, we negotiated a cab fair between the cities. The closer we got to Jinhae the more we felt that it was going to be quite a trip as the Cherry trees guiding us along the road into town were in a full stunning bloom, promising even better sights when we reached the festival. Now I had read, but not fully grasped, that the festival was city wide; so, when we went through the tunnel looking down on the coastal town and arrived at our first stop (Janbok Mt. park) on the very outskirts of town (not the town center) it finally sunk in. That and as the view opened up, allowing you to see all the way to the coast, it seemed as though the entire town was entwined and bursting with the blossoming trees. The first time my interest was sparked by these beautiful creations was in The Last Samuri, where the Samuri leader akins a perfect cherry blossom to a rare gift. Now seeing it with my own eyes, I must agree. It is quite amazing how lush and full these trees can become in full bloom, then put a couple of thousand of them in one city, and WOW! Being both nature lovers, our favorite spot was our first stop, the park. I had not given Korean nature much of a chance, my first love being the Rookies, but now having walked through a bit of it (especially during the blossoming) I must reconsider. That mingled with the overpowering presence and feelings for the one I was with, made it a truly awe inspiring adventure. One that made my metaphorical mind start to work in overdrive (yes I know it is sometimes a little over the top and cheesy, but hey that's me), drawing me into what a truly correlating experience I was having. Just one more anecdote God had put in nature to reveal to us how life is, can be, and should be if we but care to notice. And what did I notice...

Here sitting under the canopy of yet another one of God's magnificent small wonders, a robust blossoming of pink and white cherry blossoms, and watching God's magnificent gift to me, a gorgeous woman I get to call my "wife" capturing these marvelous wonders; I cannot help being swept away in a flood of emotions and visions that brought this day and this relationship together as one. Considering all that we had been through our first year together as husband and wife, an entirely new merged entity from day one, imagining this is how God called Cherry trees to be. Then of the cycle these newly merged trees would go through each year, and the cycle of years we are now starting. How, just as our wedding day in the bright sun I think we first bloomed showing off God's beauty and artistry within the human relational realm, these cherry blossoms were exhuberantly bestowing on the world a glimpse of God's original, perfect creation. Just as the wedding day itself had to end (time being dynamic and not static), so to would the blooms fall sending the beauty of the trees back within itself, resting, and readying itself for the upcoming year of life. Then my thoughts reached out to what such a tree might endure and experience over the next year; the storms that would bend and beat it, the wind that would make it dance, the rain that would nourish and sustain it, the droughts that would test its roots, the animals and other friends it would shelter, the sunrises and sunsets in would enjoy, and all other manner of every day pleasantries and hardships it would encounter. Is this not what we would live in our first year; battles and struggles, peace and enjoyment, nourishment, dry times that shook our foundations, helping others together, waking and sleeping side by side, and all that comes with two lives joined as one? Finally, as the sun sneaked through the millions of tiny blossoms, it awakened me to perceive what I was experiencing this day, one year later...that is the re-blooming, even more breathtaking than the one before, of a triumphing relationship. A relationship that is making it through, struggling on, and when the day and bloom passes ready to take on the coming year with a resolve and will as strong as nature itself. A nature echoing its Creator, who's hand is always guiding, tending, and pruning. A will and resolve with the Creator as its source, its foundation, who's loving care will have it's creation emerge ever stronger and ever more beautiful.

...and of course all this noticed in the smallest breath of time. Perhaps giving me a glimpse of what the eternal is like; these tiny slices of time in reality that seem infinite when experiencing and living them. Oh well, a thought for later I guess.

As for the rest of the trip I will let the pictures do more of the talking. But to sum up, we then traveled to some downtown spots which were all within walking distance of each other. One was a river-walk...no, stream-walk.... style street completely lined for a couple of miles on each side with overhanging cherry blossom trees. The only drawback was the amount of people, it really has gotten very popular; and of course it being an Asian culture, everyone was taking pictures as well. Making things a little difficult, and eventually being the cause of our rapid exhaustion and early return to Changwon. However, before we left we did get to the festival center, where it seemed they were going to have a concert or show of some sort later that evening. All around were vendors selling various what-nots, an ample supply of seafood eateries being it was a coastal town (we quickly slid past these as anyone who knows Jashley might guess), but in the end found our Turkish friends who sell Arabic style kabobs (which we both enjoy!). Somewhat nourished, extremely visually satisfied, we headed back to the hotel to see what our little town had to offer for a romantic dinner.

This, of course, is when we found out we were really on the outskirts of town. So we got another taxi and headed to the best western food restaurant they had in town, Bennigans. Contrary to what I know you must be thinking, this really is quite an upscale place in Korea(especially the way they are established in Korea). This taxi drive on the way into town also gave us a good estimation of what the rest of the city was like, and I must say it is the best city I have been to thus far. I think this might be similar to a Dallas/Boulder comparison back home. Changwon seemed much more spread out than other Korean cities (that is not everything stacked on each other), it was nestled near some mountains, and had a vast network of parks and arts facilities. Upon arriving in the downtown area, the style continued with many different aesthetic and artistic additions to bridges and the like, wider sidewalks on the streets with vegetation, and a generally cleaner and newer look and feel to the whole area. Bennigans and the food was no exception, so we reveled the night away in good food, drink, reminiscing on the day and year, and just plain enjoying each others company. So went our week before the anniversary, anniversary celebration...

However, if you would permit me a bit more to write just one last brief chapter to recount our actual anniversary to you. This we got to enjoy on the day before, as the day of our anniversary was a Monday which is quite a long, exhausting day for us. Therefore, we decided to make a night of it on that Sunday, starting off by getting all gussied up in matching outfits (with Jashley showing off an older, stunning dress she wore that was new to me). Next, we went to our favorite little Italian place in Pyeongtaek, Olive and Herb, where we lavished ourselves with all the delectable delicacies that they had to offer. One of which I am going to have to try when we get back to the states, a tenderloin steak with a gorganzola cheese sauce (YUMMMMMMMM!). One of our student's mother manages the restaurant, so we got to say hi to him as well. The rest of the meal consisted of another delightful round of reminiscing over favorite times, lessons learned, memories shared, ect. Then it was back to the apartment for.........presents (haha, gotcha didn't I). I am not sure who knows this, but as one of the things I did for our engagement I made a list of 365 reasons I chose Jashley since the day we met on October 12, 2007; so, Jashley made me a list of 365 things she married me since we were married on April 13, 2008, continuing the story. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed. I in turn wrote her a nice, little something in our journal. We then watched our wedding ceremony together (thanks Daniel) and proceeded to read our vows to each other afterward. Sidenote: this has an astonishingly powerful way of arousing those feelings first felt that exciting day of the wedding once again, that I highly recommend it to others, and will continue to do for all following anniversaries.

In closing this magnanimous, lengthy, tale we would like to thank all those who have helped make this year and this marriage so successful and enjoyable. Especially to all those who have seen, heard of, and helped us through all those trying times. May God grant us many more years together, with you all, representing all that is good from Him to all those around us...