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The Wedding

wedding, sacred veil, holy of holies, manage

In the summer preceding my sister’s wedding, I took to writing a poem for the occasion. This was during the time that I thought of love as many people do: the romantic attraction and feeling that two people have for one another. Thankfully, I was not so ignorant as to believe that this was the only kind of love, or the only kind of love worth having. I had always known that I was loved by my family, and this self-sacrificing love that they shared with me shaped and formed me with depth of character and a great capacity for joy. As a teenager and young adult, however, I wanted more…naturally. I wanted to know what it was like to fall in love with a man and for a man to fall in love with me. I, too, wanted to get married.

The circumstance of my life — severe disease and disability — rendered this very normal yearning unfulfilled. Okay, just a minute, because I can hear all of those well-meaning people who have said to me that there’s someone out there who could and would definitely love me if I gave it a chance. No. Don’t do that. I remember responding to some of those people in my youth by paraphrasing Groucho Marx: “I wouldn’t want to marry the man who would take me as his wife.” I’m not that desperate. Besides, although it’s often said in regard to looking for a romantic match that there’s a cover for every pot, does every pot really need a cover? Some of us are not meant to have a mate, for either long or short term. Some of us are maybe meant to have our goodness simmer in the open to fill the whole space with deliciousness. Romantic love is not for everyone.

It’s not for me.  This fact is not easy for me to swallow, something that I can just be blasé about. It hurts. It has always hurt and, although I am mature and wise and knowledgeable of how I am best fulfilled, and probably happier than most married people, I think it will always hurt, like an old injury that can ache or a scar that can burn.

With this particular heartache of mine, I set about writing a poem for the occasion of my sister’s wedding when I was 24. Having survived paltry catechesis and a brief bout with atheism, I was what possibly would have been called “spiritual but not religious.” My great love was being alive, the unfathomable mystery of life, and something faintly communicated through the whispers and glimpses of beauty’s boundless bounty…divine love? I was not yet a Christian, I did not yet believe that the infinite and eternal Creator and Master of the universe and beyond was Love Itself.  I didn’t even hope that God is love, I saw no need for such a fairytale in my life. Yet, the poem that I wrote seems to me now to speak as much to the mystery of Christ as it does to the mystery of marriage, as both were far removed from my knowledge then.

I thought that I was being clever when I wrote the poem that I am sharing here, using religious imagery to imbue my sister’s wedding with holiness. I’m sure that I also knew that I was likewise connecting the mystery of God to the intimate holiness of married love. I am a perpetual novice and I want to know everything, so even then, always loving the truth, I was waiting outside of the curtained wall asking to have revealed to me the full reality of life and love, which is at the heart of every wedding as well as the heart of every wonder.

 

On the Occasion of My Sister’s Wedding

Love,

Holy of Holies,

of whose existence I have heard,

but only the ordained have seen.

Anointed ones,

be ministers of Love,

convince me that it’s true,

and I will attend.

 

 

I never did share the poem for my sister’s wedding. I’m doing so now on the occasion of my parents’ 49th wedding anniversary, not because it’s great poetry, but because I love them.

© 2019 Christina Chase


Photo by Hisu lee on Unsplash

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.

15 thoughts on “The Wedding Leave a comment

  1. Hi Christina, having gone through the newspaper, I’m reading this on Sunday afternoon, guessing that your parents’ anniversary was all the happier because of your poem. Because of YOU, really, but your showing it to them means so much.

    I’v got a swirl of other thoughts*– many very confusing– about much of what you wrote here, and I need time to sort through them. It would be easier if we could visit and just talk, instead of sending messages. But for now I’ll show you what I did with one of your most striking sentences. Striking enough that I got distracted in my own head and imagined that I had written it:

    Wanting to know everything,
    I wait outside the curtained wall
    where the full reality of life
    and love seems to be hiding.

    .   .   .   .

    * In case you like lists, here’s a start

    – newspaper item about “Dismas House,” founded by a Jesuit priest here when I was young (in the 1950s), meant to help former prisoners integrate back into society, ,now 70 years later being investigated for corruption, as a “cash cow”

    – report about a 19 yr old racing his motorcycle erratically, eventually crashing at 130 mph into the passenger side of a car

    – 20 yr old young woman close to me struggling with almost crippling emotional disorders

    – stories (including some within my own extended family) of sickness, infidelity, divorce, loss, abandonment

    – my own marriage continuing and growing 55+ yrs, mostly through adjusting, asking and offering forgiveness, modifying expectations, and as often happens many wondrous unexpected blessings

    There’s more. And none of this is meant to offset or contradict the positive nature of your post. But the point is, your poem and it’s context (all of the things you wrote to introduce it) moved me greatly. I don’t plan to write about it; just wanted you to know that your efforts are blessings themselves for those of us who have met you this way.

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    • Your reflections are blessings to me!
      The newspaper story that you shared about the charity being investigated for financial corruption does make me think of my poem very much. Aren’t priests and charity workers supposed to be ministers of love, aren’t they supposed to shine forth God’s light into the world so that we may know the goodness of being alive and better realize God’s love for us? I think that’s why it is far more painful when we hear of corruption in any kind of charity or place of worship rather than, say, a business or government institution. There are so many of us questioning and doubting in this world — wondering if it really is good to be here and if we are truly loved divinely and eternally — that we feel all the more lost and broken when people who are supposed to be good and loving turn out to be self-centered or even cruel.

      I’m thinking that this means that, in the end, only Christ is the true minister of love. When we do good in the world — when we forgive our spouse or parent, when we sacrifice for a child or help an ailing person without any compensation— then we are carrying gifts from the Holy of Holies, we are sharing with others something of what has been shared with us. But we have to keep going back inside, continually committing to humbly receive and humbly give. Therein lies the challenge! We can’t live in the Holy of Holies, only God can. And only Christ can mediate. We fail far too often. But Christ is perpetually committed to forgiving us, and welcoming us within whenever we try again.

      Marriage, maybe, encapsulates that?

      Always good talking with you, Al! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Christina, when I read this line: “Some of us are maybe meant to have our goodness simmer in the open to fill the whole space with deliciousness,” it reminded me of two other quotes:

    1) St. Porphyrios who said, quoted in that post of mine that you recently read, “We needn’t become beggars for love.” I know that day-to- day, it’s still theoretical for most of us, but it’s no less real, that God Himself can and does fill our souls — shocking, but we have the greatest wealth at our disposal, and we beg and complain? Yes, I do, and I seem to find countless “reasons” to do so. Lord, have mercy.

    2) Lotty in the novel The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. Did you ever read that? The Italian villa where four women go for a month to get away from their dreary or too-busy English lives and/or men, can be read as metaphor for the Kingdom of God. It is even called “San Salvatore.” After only a day or two Lottie wants to invite her husband to come, and when another of the women is surprised, Lotty says:

    ***“But I’m so happy, I’m so well, I feel so fearfully wholesome. This place — why, it makes me feel flooded with love.” And she stared down at Rose in a kind of radiant surprise. Rose was silent a moment. Then she said, “And do you think it will have the same effect on Mr. Wilkins?” Lotty laughed. “I don’t know,” she said. “But even if it doesn’t, there’s enough love about to flood fifty Mr. Wilkinses, as you call him. The great thing is to have lots of love about. I don’t see,” she went on, “at least I don’t see here, though I did at home, that it matters who loves as long as somebody does.”***

    God bless you, Dear Christina, and may He continue to fill you with that Love that He is; I know you will know more and more the joy and sweetness that St. Porphyrios and so many others have known, because of all the deliciousness in the air.

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    • Thank you for reflecting with me, Gretchen! The quote that you shared in your blog from St. Porphyrios speaks to me of the power of God’s love, the divine love that we are called to, not only receive, but give to all. To be immersed in that love is sheer delight, pure bliss. Though it may only be ours to dip into while we live our lives here, its goodness is so rich, that we may carry its delicious fragrance and cooling refreshment wherever we go.

      I have only watched the film, Enchanted April, years ago, and greatly enjoyed it, but now you have made me want to read the book! Or at least watch the movie again.

      May God continue to bless you, Gretchen, with the beauty of His love,
      Pax Christi
      Christina

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t watch the movie again – it doesn’t convey half the delights of the book, I think because the story is all about the internal lives of the characters, realities they don’t usually talk about to one another but which are alternately heartbreakingly serious and very funny. (Also it changes the characters’ stories a bit.)

        I listened to it on audio also and if you want to know which edition/narrator I found wonderful I’ll send that info along.

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      • Eleanor Bron narrates the story on the recording I have. I first read the book on Kindle and I was in bed recovering from the flu when I came to the end. It had been the most nourishing and therapeutic experience, spending a month with those women — I wanted to start at the beginning and read it all over again, but not the Kindle version, because it had too many formatting errors. So I downloaded the audio right then and began listening. It was like being read to as though I were a child, so comforting — I completely forgot the narrator, and was lost in the story, which I think is the sign of a good one.

        Liked by 1 person

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