Author: John Lucas Kovasckitz with Danielle Kovasckitz
Danielle and I were married in late summer, under the wings of an old tree, surrounded by mist and those closest to us. We packed out the converted barn across the field, and we danced with the darkness with all of our collective might. It's perhaps stereotypical, but it was the best day of my life to this point...I've never experienced that much love packed into a single day.
In the few years that have followed, Danielle and I have grown our roots deeper. We've learned how to love better. We've learned how to better share the same bank account, and how to better share suitcases, and I'm improving my batting average of knowing when she says one thing but really means another deep down. We've learned that it's best not to grocery shop together if it can be avoided, and she's good at giving me my introvert time when I'm grumpy and just need to be alone with my guitar or tinker on a piano. We're still learning, we're still growing.
We've packed about ten or fifteen years into our first few years of marriage. We've worked the night shift at a difficult facility together...where I would drop her off, giggling only a little, at one of her boys throwing all of his belongings out of the upstairs window, salute her goodbye, and go see what craziness I would find in my own cottage. We've traveled most of the U.S. together. We've worked on farms together, and we've climbed a lot of mountains together. At one point, we were raising ten kids together. We traded off with baby monitors at night and went full throttle by day. And we're currently in New Zealand, a month into seven of traveling the world together.
To look back at the milestones of our life together so far is a bit insane...and I hope that pattern continues. I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for Danielle; I wouldn't have the same line of thinking. It's wild to see how dreams collide to create something new and unique.
But above all that we've done, it's truly been done together. She's made the faraway places feel like home, the ordinary days special, the horrible days not so horrible after all, and the days of sheer joy that much brighter.
Danielle is the bravest person I know, mostly in quiet ways. Despite not (yet) having biological children, I know her to be a strong and beautiful mother. Her heart is a gift for others - sometimes a painful gift, as love often is. She loves well, she questions the world well. We've worked hard, but honestly it's been fairly easy for us to pursue our passions and dreams. Our marriage has had its times of frustration, but overall it's been easy to intertwine our lives together. Some days our experiences are difficult to place within a world of so much undue pain and injustice. Some days the light we attempt to add to the world seems worthless and utterly inconsequential. Some nights, she's laid next to me in the dark wondering how I am able to still see hope. Most nights my answers don't make her sleep any better.
But I think what I cling to is this: when we dance with the darkness with all of our collective might, something happens. Light is born. God is made evident, and is within and among us.
And sometimes that's easy to forget...sometimes it's difficult to believe that light is stronger than the darkness. But it is. I believe that with everything I have. All the same, sometimes we need to be reminded...often again and again.
In five days (four in New Zealand - I can promise you the sun will come out tomorrow!), Danielle turns twenty-five. She has a few thoughts and a birthday request to share below - if you would, I'd be incredibly grateful if you would share a bit of light and then flood her inbox with what you have experienced.
And now, without further ado, my better half...
Danielle: I think it is customary to reflect on the years of your life as another passes. Perhaps it is especially common as “landmark” years approach.
I have spent most of my adult years working for a bit, quitting said job, traveling, repeat. Somewhere in that mix, I was married young and have since seen many beautiful places with the man that I love. My life has been very full of doing things that I love with people that I love. It is all very privileged and some days a bit overwhelming. While I have worked hard, most of what I have has been given to me. Thus, I fully recognize this lifestyle I live is much in part due to the kindness of strangers and friends, as well as the color of my skin.
In these last few years, I have become especially burdened with this privilege…often driving me to cynicism and struggling to understand how to live with so much while so many live with little. These thoughts fill my head with anger. Why me? What have I done to deserve this life? My blood boils at the injustices of this world, while I sip my $4 coffee, in the new beautiful town in which I am traveling. It all feels a bit backwards and my heart yearns for balance. To appreciate my privilege, this life it allows me, but also to give back ten fold.
I have allowed cynicism to tell me this world is full of more dark than light. That even if I recycle every day of my life, the environment will still go to shit…so whats the point? That adopting one child, means there are still millions more. I don’t know where the light is as I watch my mother’s health struggle. I don’t know where the light is in inequality. Or war. Or poverty. Sometimes it’s so damn hard to see.
I have spent a fair amount of our time in New Zealand walking in the woods. It has given me much time to reflect and to ask for a new perspective. One of light and not of darkness. My heart cries for a new mantra, and my heart yearns to give more. I have not yet mastered this new perspective, and I am not sure that I ever will. I hope that the more I walk, the more I will see.
Back to the “it’s my birthday” part. I’ve thought a lot about what I can do to give back as well as what I would like for my birthday. So as twenty five quickly approaches, I have a birthday request:
I’d love for you all to do something to add a little more light to this broken world, and then I’d like you to tell me about it. Perhaps cook a nice meal and gather around a table with people you love (one of my favorite things). Or maybe you want to research an organization that you can give to and then give. Maybe you pick up some trash on the road. Or maybe you write someone a good old fashioned letter. Plant a seed. LAUGH. It can be the tiniest or biggest of acts. Then, If you feel so inclined…DM me on Instagram, Facebook, or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Send me photos or stories or even a simple sentence about the bit of light you shared. It would bring me a great deal of joy. Heck, even if we have never met and for some reason you have read this far…I’d love to hear your stories.
On my twenty-fifth birthday I will be walking the Tongariro Circuit with my husband and dearest friend, Em. We will eat camp food and walk a lot. It might rain and it will probably be a little hard sometimes. I vow to do my best to walk with thanks (even going uphill in the pouring rain). I vow to choose hope and light. I vow to never stop trying to use this privilege honorably. Along with walking on my actual birthday, my goal is to find an organization in the coming weeks that I believe in to give. So if there are any out there you love…please pass them along.
To all you incredible humans who have opened your homes to us and graciously fed us over this past year, Thank you:
i often think of home.
i think of its steady mess of laughter.
with a side of bickering -- shoes scattered on the floor.
i think of the people who fill it.
the stories we share, gathered around a table -- tumultuous glory.
i think of open doors, open spaces, and a place to lie my head.
sleep looks like air mattresses in your living room, a guest room for two.
it’s snuggles with your pups. hugs from your littles. it’s warm and we are welcome.
two nights here, one night there.
another familiar place, too many kind strangers.
folded clothes with a trifle of crumpled mess atop.
my suitcase is your closet.
less and i still have so much more.
wings soon fly me onward
new nations, more strangers, even more hugs.
sweet reunions with old friends.
high tea stories beckon.
it’s time to be one with the dirt.
may i return better.
may i return your loving acts.
i think of a home. where you are welcome.
where my table is full and you are the guest in our guest room. the garden out front is ripe.
the wood stove billows.
i think you have humbled me.
with your open doors, you shine light.
with your warm beds, safety.
you leave me fed and you remind me that there is beauty beyond the dark.