oh golly, holly.

Scroll to Info & Navigation

We Stayed, Still | Life Lessons Learned from Branches, Quilts & Stillness

best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly

A few months ago, two new friends offered to take some photos of Kyle and me. We of course said yes. I had planned on a much more detailed narrative of our experience — because it ended up being much, much more than a photo shoot — but I’ll save that for another time. Days and days have passed since that afternoon spent building a fort of hanging blankets, quilts and branches, but the lessons I learned there linger. There were equal parts of words and silence between us there. Eyes open and closed. Things we hadn’t told each other in a while. Things I might not have thought about since I was fifteen and he was eighteen. Words we don’t say often and don’t say enough. There was also silence. And stillness. Weight and waiting with our eyes closed.

best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly
943595_4929616844938_803264484_n
941786_4929620125020_301054964_n
With all our differences — and there are many — we share much of the same history. Combined, we missed more than 500 days of our senior years of high school due to health problems we still struggle with. I’ve known him since I was fourteen. My teenage self thought he was the only one who understood me. And in many ways he was. We spent our sick days — most of our days, I should say — texting one another from opposite sides of our shared suburb and sitting together at youth group or church on the Sundays we made it off the couch or out of bed. We weren’t high school sweethearts, but we were kindred spirits from the start, even though I didn’t quite figure that out until years down the road. Much of our relationship — our friendship and love alike — was cultivated in the stillness. Sometimes we were stuck staying still; sometimes we chose it; sometimes we just moved at a decidedly slower pace due to the weight of our unchecked baggage. We’ve trekked quite a long road together, separate, and for one another.

945696_4929603564606_1864729365_n
best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly

Our history is a patchwork of time apart and time together; of shared struggles and silent ones. But somehow, through moments of stillness collected along the way, here we are. And here we’ve stayed. So it’s only fitting and a bit predictable that I find my strength in moments of quiet stillness — the strength I often get from him, even though he’d scoff at the idea.

Lately, we’ve both had a hard time staying still. His schedule is a mess; my sleep is limited; we work hard; we study hard; he snores; i toss and turn and sigh; the neighbor’s dog barks; the morning comes; it goes on and on. Life has been a whirlwind of the mundane. His health has been poor; my anxiety has been up; we’ve been working too hard. Things are in a constant state of “go, go, go.” I think it’s that way for most. But doesn’t it always feel like it’s just you? Or it’s just him? And that no one else gets it? Anyway, I don’t think I’ve stopped in more than three months. I don’t think he has either.

But then I just scrolled through our album of these photographs. And I was still. And he snored beside me. And I breathed. And my heartbeat slowed. I remembered the words we said and the silence we shared. And I closed my eyes. And I was still.

best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly

I often forget to learn from the stillness; from the quiet. I think we all do in this fast-paced, never-wavering world. But when I let myself stop and let myself remember these photos — the memories behind them and the memories before them, I can’t help but stop. I can’t help but be still. And then I breathe and remember that time we went to Ichthus together more than eight years ago. Or that time I first realized Kyle was looking at me from across the campfire when we were on our youth group retreat seven years ago. All of those times have brought us to right here, right now. I am still imperfect and so his he. Our lives still have a lot of growing to do. So do we. But that stillness — all those quiet moments — I think back and can’t help but remember the words from church services past ring in my ear, “…you need only be still…” And I know without a doubt that those words are true. Because they got me here and they got him here, too.

best day ever on oh golly holly
best day ever on oh golly holly

So let this be a reminder to me — and to any of you — that in the quietest of moments, we often learn…feel…know the most.