This past weekend my grandson Noah married the love of his life, Christine. What a precious day! Two families coming together, enjoying the process of discovery, each appreciating the other. It wasn’t a big affair, but there was so much good happening.
The wedding party was large, but how could it not be with bride and groom coming from large families. Early in the ceremony, we were delighted when Noah’s 2-year-old nephew, Skipper, brought the box containing the rings forward. He was lured by his Uncle Micah with a promise of candy to deliver the box. After he did so, he sat on the sanctuary step with every intention of staying. His dad had to come forward to scoop him up.
There were some rituals during the ceremony including a sand ceremony that I’d never heard of before. It was explained to me that the families of origin (the moms) pour sand into a jar representing foundations and the couple then pour colored sand into the mix representing the unique way the new couple would build on that foundation. After the vows, the parents of both sides came up and formed a circle of prayer with the couple. We were not in the circle to hear what they each prayed for the couple but those of us in the congregation were able to support them in prayer.
During the reception, Noah called all married couples to the dance floor and, as we danced, he began eliminating couples one at time. “If you have been married one year or less, sit down…” Then, “Five years or less…” “Ten years…”etc. Bernie and I could see that the moment would come when we would be standing on the dance floor alone. As we danced, we argued about how long we’ve been married. We weren’t quite sure. We finally decided we would say 53 years even if it wasn’t right.
I want to share with my readers something about this special event that touched me more than anything. Christine was an adopted child. Some time after she was being raised by her new family, contact was made with the birth mother and a relationship began between her and Christine’s adoptive family. She was there and when Christine’s father was asked by the minister “Who is giving Christine in marriage?”, he responced, “Her mother, her birth mother, and I.” Later after the initial couple’s dance the bride and her father danced together alone, At one point Kevin stopped and signaled to someone in the back to come forward. For a while, no one came, but eventually with more coaxing, a man came onto the dance floor to take Kevin’s place. I was told that this was Christine’s birth father who had also been invited. There were many tears shed at that moment, including my own.
My mother’s and dad’s families both experienced brokenness. In our history there is a case of a child being born out of “wedlock” and given to an aunt to be raised. The child grew up not knowing the truth and who her birth mother was. We’ve had our share of addictions and all the pain that goes with it. There were rifts over money borrowed and never payed back. One relative was ostracized when he married outside the family religion. There are so many different reasons brokenness occurs in families. Bad decisions are made and innocent people suffer. Sometmes, parents are young as they start out and in their immaturity do some pretty poor parenting that causes harm to their children. In some families arguing and fighting is the norm. In today’s world, such troubled families are often referred to as “dysfunctional” assuming that their problems are out of the ordinary.
Should we then assume that a “functional” family is one where there are no such struggles or relationship ruptures? I don’t think so. I think all families have problems but not all families have the capacity to deal with the problems in a healthy way. They may lack communication skills and self-awareness, for example. I have seen families where these skills were developed later in the families life when they could deal with old hurts, forgive one another and move on. In the case of Christine’s family moving on means more than forgetting or forgiving. It means drawing in, creating a circle of love where you might not expect one to ever exist. In my understanding of God’s will for us, this is exactly it…moving toward Oneness and Love.