We had the most wonderful time yesterday. We have friends who we have known since we were all much younger and their eldest son was married yesterday. Boy, what a great wedding. The thing that set it apart was the simplistic sincerity in each detail. There were few of us (about 50 or 60) in a large parish church that was not overly decorated and the decorations they did use were all hand-made. The clothes worn by the attendants were simple and tasteful (the girls wore cowboy boots, as did the bride) and the ceremony was simple, the readings perfect for them, and the singing was wonderful (the sister of the groom did a phenomenal job!). Father’s homily was really good and you could tell he spent some time with the couple. We laughed with his stories and we just felt blessed to be there. The light coming in through the casement windows cast a surreal look over it all and I just sat there and smiled; I couldn’t help myself!
It is fun to see our friend’s children grow up and become husbands and wives, and eventually, parents. It was another example of the continuity of life. A couple found each other on their first day of college and 5 years later, they are married. They knew from that first day and never wavered in their love or commitment to one another. I am such a sap for a good love story!
This couple gave me confidence in our young people! They chose to keep things very simple and they made so much of what they shared with us. The most amazing was their flowers – all made of paper! They had to let me see them up close to believe they were paper! So wonderful. They also took the time to learn to dance and their first dance had us all in tears. It was just such a beautiful way for them to start their marriage. One of the groom’s brothers played his Ukelele and serenaded his brother and mother for their dance – not a dry eye in the place! (Somewhere Over the Rainbow!! The same version as in the movie, 50 First Dates!). Even their centerpieces were crafted by the family and it helped to make it so personal and tight – like a community of families had come together to worship and celebrate together. It felt like a glimpse into another realm.
And for me, it just became so clear. We were surrounded by all these people who had one thought – to support and love this couple who were starting out together. They all shared it with one mind; it was almost palatable. For the record, there were quite a few people I had never met before, most of whom had come to our area specifically for the wedding. So these people came together, as one, without knowing each other, but with one heart and one goal in mind – this young couple. It shows just how much we can affect those around us. I love that quote above. Imagine if we all acquired this sense of deep-seated peace, where we know, to our marrow, that regardless of our behavior, regardless of our doubts, regardless of our words or action, God’s got our back? Or as Mark Hart the Bible Geek likes to say, “God’s got this”!!!
Fr. Stephen Freeman said, “Each of us (certainly in our Baptism and Chrismation) have been given the grace of God for our salvation – that is to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit and to conform us to the image of God in Christ. The question is what do we do with it?” And in his article, “What St. Seraphim Meant,” he goes on to quote the Saint again:
“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives.”
He tells us that we simply cannot be too kind. It is a stark reminder that the world around us is NOT a kind place. Yesterday we shared a beautiful day with people all around us that were sincerely joyous. There were guests present who had flown in from as far away as New York. They could not get over the beauty of the place in which we live. They were overwhelmed by what we see, and are privileged to see, everyday. They kept rushing outside to take photos as the sun made its play on the snow and trees. As the sun began to set, the colors and light on the mountains were overwhelmingly beautiful. The environment made their joy even greater! Everyone in that small lodge was there, laughing, feasting, dancing, and celebrating. You could not help but smile at people you did not even know. I wanted, so much, to bottle that up and share it with everyone I see, day after day, after day.
As Fr. Stephen said, we are all given this grace, but “what do we do with it?” Yesterday I was shown that we share it. We certainly do not hide our light under a bushel basket, but rather we place our light on a candle stand, where it can light the whole room (Matthew 5:15). And isn’t that part of the Great Command from Christ, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)?
Through Grace we are given glimpses into heaven; glimpses into what eternity can, and should be. One of the readings they chose yesterday, in which love was explained (1Cor13) has this phrase that I treasure, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1Cor 13:12). This line promises me everything will come, in its time. I have had these moments of complete clarity, but they have been fleeting, coming in spurts, with no regularity to them. As I progress on this road of salvation, or Theosis, God allows my glimpses to be more clear, regular, and far more enticing. It seems like the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know, and the more you want to learn. Our process of salvation occurs over our lifetime. We struggle, we fall, but we get back up and we keep on trudging forward. And that is the beauty of this Divine Grace we have been given…we have the strength, the fortitude, and the resolve, to get back up again! We keep growing and learning through God’s Grace acting in us, and on us. And that same Grace drives us to love more fully, and to want to share this love with those around us.
This Lent is becoming more fortuitous the longer it goes on. It’s wonderful that God allows such a simple thing like a Thursday-afternoon, sunshine-filled, lovely wedding to become a lesson in my salvation. And a glimpse into what being a part of the Heavenly Kingdom will be like. We’ll be laughing, feasting, dancing, and celebrating together, filled with the joy of Christ in our hearts.