To understand this post, you will first have to read this brief one. It did happen again. The salty drops running down my face on the day our fifth-born child was married were not only from the sweat produced by the sweltering heat of the day. They came not only from my head and face, but from my eyes.
During this experience, I noted a deeper reason for my tears than I recounted in my previous article. Despite the glorious nature of the day, twinges of a dark sorrow ran through my heart like a vein of coal in the mountains. On such a day, why was this happening?
The outdoor wedding itself, set atop the beautiful, rolling hills of Lauxmont Farms overlooking the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County, was nothing but a joyous affair. Spencer and and his bride Lauren are two of the happiest people you will ever meet, and surrounded by loving family and friends their gladness simply overflowed. Their joy in one another radiated from the beginning to the end, from first seeing each other as she came down the grassy aisle on her father's arm to the last exuberant dance where they were both lifted high on the shoulders of their cheering friends. At the wedding and afterwards, people kept commenting on just how much unabashed joy was present that day.
So why on such a wonderful day were not my tears only happy ones? Why did they also well up from some place of sorrow? I realized they were pain-produced. The light of that sunny day shone with joy, yes, but in doing so it also revealed brokenness. I was not planning on these thoughts bubbling up unexpectedly, producing their intermittent splashes on my cheeks, but there they were nonetheless. Thoughts such as:
When I watched Papa, Spencer's grandfather, escorted down the aisle by my son Trevor. I could not help but think that in one sense he still walked down the aisle alone, missing his bride of more than five decades and thinking of the joy "Hoo-Hoo" would have added to the day.
Seeing or thinking of other faces of those now widowed or divorced, and how such a day must bring sudden pangs of heart sadness to them.
Missing my own parents, as illness and death kept them from seeing any of my children's weddings.
Knowing that some long for the companionship of marriage though it remains elusive, while others had plans for such a day as this that were suddenly taken away from them.
Seeing Miriam talking quietly with Spencer in the mother and son dance, and thinking how quickly the time has passed. Then realizing that, unless we experience some extraordinary providence, we have already celebrated more anniversaries than we have remaining.
Understandably, death is not mentioned a great deal at weddings. Yet its reality is always present and even acknowledged. For though the concluding phrase of the traditional wedding vows "until death do us part" is these days often more positively stated "as long as we both shall live," the message is still the same. As John Piper put it in the title of his book, every marriage is momentary.
All but one that is. Here I simply remind myself of what I wrote at the end of the first article I mentioned above. At the wedding feast of the Lamb, not only tears but death itself will be no more. Those deep heart sorrows that cause me to tear up at weddings prod me to keep longing for the one, true marriage that awaits all in Christ Jesus.