Some readers will know we’ve had great joy in the marriage our of daughter nearly two weeks ago. Just yesterday a friend who attended remarked upon it, quoting Chesterton: “Break the conventions, keep the commandments.” Upon reflection, the bride and groom did dispense with some of the “customs” (throwing bouquets, cake, first dances); I, and probably most people there, never missed them. Instead we were treated to a couple who concentrated on their vows and consecrated to God their future life together. Doughnuts replaced cake, a surprise solo replaced the dance, and all shared conversation and good wishes under a warm June sun.
But in all this joy, one of the most meaningful gifts I received was during the groom’s remarks at the Rehearsal dinner. I’m not familiar with a custom of a groom thanking his parents, the bride’s parents, and then saying a few things about the bride. If this is not a popular practice, it should be, since his thoughts that night and those shared by others, set the table appropriately for the joy and solemn occasion about to happen.
My now son-in-law, like me, my daughter, and many others, has read most of the Madeleine L’Engle books out there. When he thanked my husband and I for our family and its life, he likened us to the Murry family in A Wrinkle in Time. As he spoke I could recall vividly Meg, Charles Wallace, Mr and Mrs Murry, her science lab, the large dog Fortinbras, the storm, the kitchen, Mrs. Whatsit and all the rest. This is high praise indeed: our family, like the wonderful Murrays?
The youngest of my four is now 17, my oldest, nearly 28. All are in those more seasoned stages of transitions: work, degree completion (or beginning); married life, and (one) having children in her own family. It seems like yesterday they were young children gathering, as they still do, around the kitchen table or streaming, as they still do, through the house and all its disrepairs and clutter to find their next adventure.
When my husband asked me later why I was so moved by this comparison, and what it meant, the only and first words to drop from my lips were those above: Chaotic Love. It’s not that the love is chaotic, rather, there is somehow, mysteriously, what I hope is a balance: the chaos of surroundings—the laundry piles, the wren nesting in the house frame, all the un-done around us- these do not overshadow the gravitas of deep love.