the wedding address – an outline

My love and prayers to Aaron and Lisa.  Thanks for the pixie dust and happy thoughts!

Humans are notoriously short-sighted creatures.  We’re filled with expectations, plans, hopes, fears. . . yet the truth is we can’t see much beyond this moment.

Our vision becomes blurry quickly as we stare into the minutes ahead trying to discern what will happen and how it will affect us.

We don’t even know yet if it will rain today, or if Aaron will bust out into tears before the day is over, or if Lisa could possibly be any more beautiful than she is at this moment, or whether any of you will be doing the chicken dance tomorrow night . . .

This is why I (we all) love weddings:  a decision has been made, a commitment to see what comes – to the adventure.

Together . . .

The commitment becomes the key.  It is the known variable . . .

The commitment says, “Since this is true, then . . . ”

This reminds me of the poetry of the book of Genesis:  God saw it was not good for man to be alone.  So, the story goes, he took a rib from the man after causing him to fall into a deep sleep, and from that rib he formed woman.

Adam said, “you are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

God said, “for this cause shall a man leave father and mother and cleave only to his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”

I like that old-English word “cleave.”  It has a sense of desperation to it.  It means to cling.  To stick.  To not let go.

Commitment . . .

My favorite author is an 83-year-old Presbyterian minister from Vermont, Frederick Buechner.  He says this about the idea:

Because the promises that are made in a marriage are not just promises to love the other when the other is lovely and lovable, but to love the other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, and that means to love the other even at half-past three in the morning when [one of  you] is crying and to love each other with a terrible cold in the head and when the bills have to be paid.  The love that is affirmed at a wedding is not just a condition of the heart but an act of the will, and the promise that love makes is to will the other’s good even at the expense sometimes of its own good – and that is quite a promise.

Aaron and Lisa, I really have only one question for you today . . . Is that the kind of promise you’ve made?

It’s quite a promise:  A promise that doesn’t have the benefit of foreknowledge.  That would be an easy promise to make.

They are promising to see together what life will bring.

They are promising to walk beside each other, to carry each other when need be; to love one another through and in spite of the unexpected.

I’ve already had the pleasure of watching a bit as they’ve done that while planning this event.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

Finally, then, I’m reminded of the poetry from the Song of Solomon with the Shulamite woman and her Beloved, and what she says to him about going to see what life will bring:

Come my Beloved, let us go out into the country.  Let us spend the night in the villages.  Let us go early to the vineyards.  Let us see whether the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom.

There I will give you my love.  The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every choice fruit, both new and old, which I have stored up for you, my Beloved.

6 thoughts on “the wedding address – an outline”

  1. Good words, Dale. As one who’s still relatively newly married (just passed two years), those words still strongly resonate with me. I hope I never lose the newness of it. And I’m really thankful for examples right in front of me (you and Renee, the Powells) that have been through a ton together, but still have that newness. So, thanks.

    Oh, and I love that Buechner is your favorite author. Just sayin’.

    1. Layne – we occupied the same space but didn’t talk much yesterday. I did hear Lisa say, just before your departure, “Husband, what are you making for dinner?” Your response was something like, “I’m not making anything for dinner. What are you making?” I’m not sure what happened next, but the next phrase I caught was from Lisa, with something about Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

      That’s a good sign things are going well!

      With common loves like Paul, the Powells, Buechner, Over the Rhine, and mewithoutyou, I’m pretty sure that you and I are really good friends just waiting to recognize it.

      1. My dad told me that having a child gave him a clearer picture of the reality of how much God loves us and how is is forever longing for our best interest. I know parenthood will likewise take my understanding to a deeper level, but in the meantime marriage has definitely been a looking glass into how love plays out in the everyday decision to willfully, intentionally, and with a tender heart put someone else above yourself. Layne makes it easy most of the time, but when my selfish, independent tendencies capture my thoughts the Holy Spirit reminds me of the covenant I made, and graciously fans the flame of my desire to please and honor my worthy God and love and serve my stellar husband. So yeah, marriage is awesome. As an aside, I am also quite happy that Buechner is your favorite author. Frankly, had I known this I would have pursued friendship with you long ago, but better late than never I reckon. Have you read “The Longing for Home”? I read it when I was enduring a dark season of my soul and that book was part of my rescue. I love that guy and the beautiful, poetic way he expresses divinity and humanity with such depth and such simplicity at the same time. He is on my list of people to meet and he is getting old, so you should pack up the kids and the Petersens and drive us to the Buechner home.

  2. Dale, I am so glad you posted this for us to read again and again, even though we were honored enough to have heard it in person as well. Its good stuff and always good to hear.

  3. I’m glad I was able to hear this in person, Then read it afterward as well. It’s really interesting how I have had many conversations over the last month about the commitment part of the marriage vows. Thanks for posting this to refer to and print out and frame and hang on my wall.

  4. Lisa – I know it’s way too cheesy to actually say, but I’m pretty happy to find your name and comments here. I’m just sayin’. For a long time, I’ve been holding my breath waiting for good conversations with you. I know you don’t believe me, and that breath holding part is just a figure of speech anyway, but it’s true.

    So yeah, about the Buechner fellow . . . don’t tempt me. I soooooo want to be stalking him. Katie and Hannah and I are going to that area in October and I’m trying to figure out how to fit in a detour to Vermont to track him down. I have daydreamed about meeting him for years, and I’m scared he’s going to be gone before I do, so don’t tempt me with that crazy road trip idea. I’m already doing the math.

    I haven’t read The Longing For Home yet. Long story . . . we’ll talk someday. Thanks!

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