Thursday, April 23, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I know weddings are not all like this. I have officiated at several that raised a lump in my throat -- whose tenderness and sincerity, made palpable by the widened eyes and the hushed and careful responses, made emotions rise and tears fall and confirmed the fact that what was being solemnized among us was infinitely larger than all of us combined.
It just doesn't happen very often. And today's newspaper brought me some smug validation. Unfortunately -- tragically and even unforgivably, it seems -- a wedding reception a couple of years ago had some problems. Guests got sick. Tainted salad was blamed. The couple sued the restaurant, and now the verdict is in: $50,000 the restaurant will be required to pay the unhappy, devastated couple. They had asked for more than 8-times that amount, and registered their dismay that the jury didn't compensate them for "future emotional distress."
Please. Future emotional distress? Are you really going to spend the rest of your life sucking on this sore thumb? I can't be too optimistic about a marriage inalterably bent and scarred by viral radishes and radicchio. Get over the reception and get on with your marriage.
Besides, while tainted salad may have played some part, my sense is that stomach cramps are fairly common place at weddings, even when nothing has been consumed. Those aren't, after all, just words that are spoken; they are breathtaking promises exchanged that will fundamentally alter the course and character and alignment of lives. Even if the couple and those closest to them aren't particularly mindful of the epochal implications, stomachs usually are, having enough sense to tie themselves up in knots.
Just to be smug about it I could add that I've never heard of this sort of thing happening at a funeral -- heartache, to be sure, but no stomach ache -- but I'll restrain myself. After all, I would hate for the church ladies who prepare those funeral luncheons to get sued. They are haggard enough as it is.
Friday, April 10, 2009
"The essence of what we do is love and love. According to history and sacred writings, love always perseveres. It doesn't give up. If you really love God and your neighbors, you don't give up. That's the message."
Words are funny. These quoted above are drawn from a Des Moines Register article about mirroring protests at the Capitol yesterday by gay marriage supporters and opponents. During their Thursday session the Iowa House of Representatives responded to two attempts to move forward enabling legislation toward a constitutional amendment that would exclude the same-sex marriages for which the State Supreme Court had opened the door last Friday. Both sides in the debate were amply represented to express their convictions.
But as I say, words are funny. Which side invoked the persevering qualities of love cited above? Which side asserted steadfastness in their determination to love; that ultimately this entire debate is about love? The answer, of course, is in the article itself, and I will leave you to read it for yourself. My point is simply to note that either side could have spoken them. Both voices speak of love and its power to motivate, drive, and sustain. Both sides claim that what their efforts are really all about is the desire to love.
And yet these loving motivations have drawn these two loving voices into opposite sides of the House Visitor's Gallery where they eventually shout and decry each other into escorted removal from the chambers.
"The essence of what we do is love and love."
What a funny, funny word. Love: so vigorously defended, so righteously asserted, so achingly desired, so conflictually invoked, so torturously defined, and so rarely...
"The essence of what we do is love and love." Who said it? The fact is, it hardly matters. Everyone, after all, says it, and unfortunately means opposite things in the invocation of it. The real question is who will stop saying it long enough to actually demonstrate a little of it?
Friday, April 3, 2009
- hospital patients and their families are only asleep when you visit without a calling card to leave as evidence of your presence;
- Airline flights are only delayed on those days you rush to the airport without having had the time to check flight status in advance.
These, I suspect, are corollaries to the law that it only rains on days immediately succeeding those in which you have had your car washed, and that you only smudge or spill something on your pants the first time you wear them after dry cleaning. This may not be true, but I suspect it is. Sometimes the dominoes fall sideways instead of neatly forward, one rhythmically into the next.
The moral, I suppose, is that a sense of humor remains important, that patience remains essential, and a rigid insistence on order -- on everything working out like it "should" -- remains a futile delusion, at best, and at worst a recipe for a miserable life. I'm not really smart enough to know how life "should" work out anyway, despite my frequent exasperations when it doesn't, and I might be better served by keeping cracked a window of expectancy for the myriad good things -- conversations, introductions, observations and relaxations that slip in serendipitously.
That, and an extra book handy for those times when the flight is delayed yet again.