Yesterday afternoon we stood on Cinnamon Beach here on St John, US Virgin Islands, as our son Nathan married Westra Bea Miller. This really wasn't a "destination wedding" since Westra grew up here.
The weather was just perfect. Slightly overcast with a breeze...which is just what you want at this time of year down here.
Westra was stunning...she is an extraordinary young woman. Bright as a whip and beautiful with a good heart. She was walked down the beach by her brother. Nathan was waiting for her in a pair of khaki slacks and a white, open-necked, dress shirt.
I was asked to say a "few words." Although couples rarely ever remember a thing a preacher says at their wedding I gave it my best shot! I read from 1st Corinthians 13. The translation of the Bible in the hotel room was King James so the language was a bit foreign to the thirty or so folks gathered on the beach. People heard, though, what the apostle Paul had to say about love being patient and kind, not keeping a record of the wrong but rejoicing in the right.
Several days before the wedding I had sent Westra and Nathan an email asking them to tell me, in a few sentences, what it was about the other that they most treasured. Their responses were both beautiful and honest...celebrating a very special kind of love and grace they have found together. So I read their words...and we all got quiet. Leaned in. Listened in. And realized we were in the presence of a very special kind of love.
I had all sorts of thoughts and feelings as I stood there on the beach, for the ceremony, and as I joined the party at the Ocean Grill in Mongoose Junction.
First, there was this deep gladness at watching our three sons be together. Bryan took the pictures. Michael helped the party happen. It was good watching them "hang" together. It was a joy watching the delight in the eyes of Michael and Bryan as they watched their brother get married.
Second, it is amazing how love links families people. People who were strangers to me before this weekend have now become a part of our lives...our family. I stood on a beach at a barbecue for friends of Westra and Nathan this weekend and looked around me with amazement...my family has grown in unexpected and delightful ways. Love brings us together...we end up making the journey together and it is all rather amazing.
Third, I realize how precious and powerful the love between young lovers is. It really is an extraordinary, breathless, miracle. The journey we call marriage is about finding some way -prayer, conversations in the evening before turning out the light, taking time to play- to keep that passionate, yearning, aching, delighted kind of love alive. Love changes over time. That is just the way it is. But too often we allow the exuberant love of youth to get lost along the way. So the marriage miracle is about holding onto the delight he had when we first found one another.
Fourth, for marriage to flourish we also not only need to hold onto the joy of our first love but also be open to new lessons along the way. To be open to the possibility that love may become a bit more quiet along the way but it also may deepen and mature in extraordinary ways.
Genesis tells us God created the first person and that person had it all. They did not, however, have a partner. God saw that wasn't good. So God made the second person. We may not all be married but we all need someone in our life who can be a partner...a dear friend...a brother or sister in the journey.
I am blessed...my face has been made bright by the sun and my heart is full.