I love weddings. It is such an exciting time, full of joy and hope and romance and fun. But it is also serious business, reviewing the truths of God's plans for matrimony. I love the part when my husband invariably reaches over and takes my hand in his, and we listen to vows taken... promises made... truths spoken... about faithfulness and cherishing and honor and love. I love feeling the warmth of my own forever promise as his hand reaches out and entwines itself in mine. Listening to those words, hand-in-hand with the one you made your own vows to so many years ago... well, it's a good thing. Remembering it all. Hearing it all again. Promising all over again, with each little squeeze and caress.
I especially love Christmastime weddings! Perhaps it is a sentimental attachment to our own story, the shake-up that happened when two old friends from college were in their friends' wedding together during the first Christmas season after graduation, providentially assigned to stand on the same row for a front-row seat to all the promise-making. I was engaged to someone else at the time, the victim of a whirlwind romance with an older man who had swept me off my feet and flattered me by his certainty that I was the one he'd been searching and waiting for. Until I saw my old friend iivo, former roommate of the groom, and was suddenly filled with doubt. That's a long story for another time, but suffice it to say that I was undone, standing so close to our dear friends and watching them promise these things to one another. It was so holy... so intimate... so vulnerable... They lit the unity candle and returned to their places and, as they waited along with the rest of us for the soloist to finish her song, they just stared at each other. Gazing deeply into each others' eyes, they spoke volumes to one another without a word. I remember feeling like I was eavesdropping on something private and intimate, and having to look away. I remember thinking, "I could never look at M (my fiancé) like that," and I remember the lump in my throat that turned into a growing knot in my stomach.
Again, that's a long story for another time, but watching all that promise-making and intimate gazing, all those years ago, was powerful. I knew I was watching something mysterious and holy, this joining of two hearts and lives before God, 'til-death-do-us-part. And it happens again every time I watch a Christian wedding. I am filled with awe. And wonder. And mushy sentimentality. And deep gratitude. Oh, how I love this man who gave himself to me--fully and freely and forever--and who lives out those vows in the beauty of daily grace. As Keelan and Lydia share the waning days of Christmas together, their first as husband and wife, I am so happy to be lying next to my own darling, some 25 years after sharing that Christmas-wedding vow together.
"Merry Christmas, Darling," indeed!