I remember feeling sick to my stomach with nervousness in the hour leading up to walking down the aisle. The pictures show me no radiant, beaming, blushing bride. I ugly cried all the way down the hill, overwhelmed by the meaning and weight of such occasion. Side-by-side with my soon to be husband, I remember standing mortified and completely embarrassed by the pastor, wearing a sweater-like cape in the sweltering heat, swinging around a monstrous meat cleaver. I strangely, oddly, remember no joy.
(That is, not in this memory.)
“Cleave to, not from.”
The words made no sense to me. I stood there in horror, annoyed and ashamed of what all my non-Lutheran friends and family were thinking in all these uncomfortable, way too-Lutheran moments. First the robe, and then The Lord’s Prayer. Now this. The meat cleaver then became the buzz of the crowd. I’d never even heard of a meat cleaver, and had no idea why a pastor would bring a machete to the sermon of our wedding. To this day, they still talk about it, anyone who was there as a witness. At some point down the road, I forgave the pastor and repented of my annoyances. I now remember “The Homily” as the most profound and powerful wedding sermon I’ve ever heard in my life.
cleave: to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly
cleave: to sever
I took the above picture while standing next to yet another Lutheran pastor. He’s a man of middle-age, here with his wife, who was also standing in the sun-glow beside him. They’re visiting for the week, and I usually enjoy the conversations with visitors. He was telling me about his daughters–once children, now grown–when he made the passing reference to a “former wife”. I had already wondered to myself, but hadn’t asked. Now I didn’t have to (not that I would have). He’d been divorced. She had been widowed.
There was a season in life where all our friends were getting married. For two to three years, the Saturdays of summer were taken by weddings. The counselors here are in that season. There have been weekend travels of summer staff as former counselors have gone on to get married. My brother’s former girlfriend got married this weekend, a girl we loved as we did our own sister. The same 27-year-old brother gets married next month, to the girl he has loved for over thirteen years. We, too, love her now.
I remember a fight we had while living in the parsonage. I was angry and exasperated, and as my husband walked out the back to go to work, I followed him out the door and yelled something loud and in pain but regrettable. Out of the corner of my eye, I immediately saw a blur of two women standing outside the church office door. I couldn’t bring myself to look directly at them to see who it was. I didn’t want to ever know. Later, I asked my husband if he knew who it was (he’d had to walk over and let them in).
I still don’t know, and still don’t want to.
Something similar happened this morning, except it wasn’t women, it was counselors. They normally wouldn’t have been up so early, but they’d gotten up for sunrise boating. I wasn’t yelling out the door, but I was speaking with a loudness to be seen and be heard, something I guarantee could be translated into “Hear me. See me. Know me. Love me. SHOW ME WHO YOU REALLY ARE SO I CAN DO THOSE THINGS FOR YOU.” “There’s people in the office”, he told me. “I don’t care!”, I replied, and at the time, I truly didn’t.
But this morning I skipped breakfast,
too embarrassed to go and be seen,
to be seen that much after being so heard.
Love is complicated (understatement much??)
And kind of funny sometimes.
This too shall pass.