Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Second Time Around

She was one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. And it was one of the most touching weddings I have ever attended.

Both of them had loved - how they loved! - and had lost the ones they loved. "Till death us do part" was very real; no one would have thought, all those years ago when they uttered those vows, that it would have happened so soon. Grief came in waves, relentless as the tide in a storm, for years. Precious fragments of lives lived together, jagged, raw, were washed up in the aftermath; and they combed the beaches of their memories for almost forgotten treasures.

Then slowly, over time, the sharp edges of mourning were gently smoothed by that same unremittingly repetitive action that waves and tide naturally produce, washed in the antiseptic saltiness of many tears shed and burnished by the very grains of pain that had seemed to infiltrate every area of their hearts.

The clouds on the horizon began to lift and the steady warmth of the sun to touch their shoulders and hearts again. When they were able finally to walk those beaches in the calm of late afternoon, still alone but having achieved a greater peace, they started looking almost unconsciously for someone to share the moments of sheer joy starting to catch their attention like that sun sparkling off the little wavelets of re-emerging life. They each had full lives; but they wondered if there was someone out there whom they could love and who would in turn love them, someone who would honour the treasures already in their hearts while at the same time discovering new richness, new appreciations that would be the two of theirs alone.

It was inevitable, wasn't it, that these two would find each other? 

And so it was, this past Friday, that we gathered together in the little church with the coppery afternoon sunlight slipping through the skylights and peeking through the stained glass windows. The minister led him and his three sons - his attendants - up the aisle to the front. They were followed moments later by her daughter and younger son - much-loved children who in turn cherished their mother and who stood up as her attendants today.

Then there was a flutter of white dresses and little pink toes: the granddaughters, each carrying one Calla lily, walked carefully up to the front.

One granddaughter was missing, however, the eldest. I looked back to the entry of the nave and she was there, poised, en pointe, about to offer her grandmother her heart in a piece she had choreographed herself for the occasion. She extended her arms and transfixed us all with her grace, her beauty, the fluidity of her movement as she danced her way to the front.

Now all heads turned to the back of the church. The music soared, Pachelbel's Canon played with such love by her son-in-law on the violin and her niece on the piano, as she started the walk toward her beloved, on the arm of her treasured elder son. She wore no veil - no veil would have been able to hide the joy on her face anyway - and carried no flowers. Her eyes were fixed on one person only. I stole a glance at him: he was gazing back at her with such tenderness, such unabashed love that I had to clear my throat and blink the mist from my eyes.
As she reached the front her son stepped back to join his siblings and each of the little granddaughters offered their Calla lily to her. Then the eldest, her beautiful dancer, placed her flower in her grandmother's arms and wrapped all the stems together with a shining length of ribbon. The bouquet complete, she took his arm and they trod together up the steps to the altar where her brother-in-law stood ready to marry them.
It was a hallowed time as these two people were truly united in the sight of God, till death them did part. How solemn, how precious those words would have seemed to them and to all of us who witnessed their vows!

As they signed the register her younger son played softly for them on his guitar.

And then the announcement: "I am happy to present to you, for the first time, Mr and Mrs ..."

Both of them were radiant. They walked out hand in hand, stopping for a few gentle moments to greet and acknowledge his tiny mother who had mustered the strength to make it to the church and who beamed with great pride at her eldest child of ten as he leaned over to kiss her.

But then a slight glitch in the proceedings: her son-in-law and her youngest grandson were playing the recessional, a jazzy little improvisation that frolicked over the keys and which also involved father and son switching ends at the piano.

No one wanted to leave - we watched and listened in fascination to the magical spell being being woven around us through those four hands. Finally her eldest grandson - one of the ushers - walked back in. "Um - you can leave now," he prompted, to a collective laugh and a recollection of where we were.
The happy couple, it seemed, hadn't really missed us that much after all ...

The reception was intimate and joyous. His eldest son was the Master of Ceremonies and pulled it off with aplomb and humour.

The meal was delicious and the company at my table delightful. The welcoming of bride and groom into the other's respective family was heartfelt and touching.

Tales were told. Secrets were spilled. Music was made, by his granddaughter, by two of her siblings and by her daughter and son-in-law who sang a blessing as sweet as a lullaby.

As the evening wound down people were encouraged to mingle, to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

But just before the party was officially over, she and he stepped up to the microphone. They thanked God, they thanked their families, and they thanked each one who was able to make it for the wedding.

We leave them with the words of benediction sung so poignantly by her daughter and son-in-law (very poor recording, as I was across the room. But you'll understand ...):

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And give you peace, and give you peace
And give you peace forever

The Lord be gracious to you
The Lord turn His face upon you
And give you peace, and give you peace
And give you peace forever


  1. Thank you so much for posting this, Karyn. I feel so sad that we weren't able to attend. I love Naomi so much and would love to have been there. But it was not to be. I am so happy for them and thank God for all the He has done. He is so good!!

  2. I love your image of the beach and the waves washing the stones smooth until they could look up from that jagged path and see the beautiful view all around - including one another! Thank you for sharing this. God bless the bride and groom! He makes everything beautiful in its time!

  3. So very well written, Karyn! Thanks for posting this so we can all enjoy it. What a God-honouring special day it was.

  4. Karyn, I am so glad you could be there for her. I have tears in my eyes from this beautiful story of such a beautiful day. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for sharing this joyous time with us and wish I could have been there to share it with you. Love you Naomi, and I am so happy for you and your family.


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