In so many ways, it was a typical Sunday morning. Church and lunch, and a brief time of rest after both. But the day was anything but typical. We went home to change not into our Sunday afternoon napping, relaxing clothes, but into wedding clothes. On April 26th at 2 pm, I drove to our church to join the preparations for my daughter’s wedding.
There were no frenzied preparations. No last minute blunders. No jittery nerves. The atmosphere in the room was still and easy—like the slow rhythmic pace akin to the push and pull of a porch swing. Nephews (my grandsons) were present eating lunches and snacks on folded-out chairs.
The bride-groom reveal was quiet and unassuming. I didn’t get to see it, but I heard the groom teared up when he saw his bride-to-be. When it was time the bride and the groom walked into the church and down the aisle together.
She held a smooth, silky white rope; he grasped a dark, rough hemp rope. They laughed as their hands turned and pulled—two knots forming to push against each other. Back to back. Shoulder to shoulder. When pulled, the knots would hold—fast. But a loop turned wrong, and her eyes flickered up to his in a trace of panic,
“That was wrong wasn’t it?” she asked.
He helped her redo, never commenting, never offering censure. They, my third daughter and her lumberjack man, tied the knot.
They tied a fisherman’s knot in the middle of their tying THE KNOT. During their wedding, I watched them pull the ropes through the loops, and I envisioned God's grace moving through the ends and the outs. Over and across. God's mercy and grace and truth weaving the knots together--sturdy and strong against the silky smooth.
Olivia, Egyptian-like in her glimmering gold sheath, lifted her head to him. Eyes shimmering far more than her dress. Nolan, handsome and strong, gazed down drinking in the joy of her. They stood at the center of a full circle, every guest standing. We were close and near enough to hear the nuances and inflections of their voices. We leaned toward them to hear as they exchanged vows. We wanted to hear the traditional promise of fidelity of body and the commitment of exclusivity. We wanted to hear the I Do’s.
The decision and the resolve in their voices were sound, unshaken by nerves. And we, the guests, leaned against each other—hands on backs and shoulders pressing. They exchanged their vows, words tailored and crafted for the other—intimate words, almost uncomfortably so. For a brief moment I felt I had barged in on a private conversation. But they wanted us privy. The two of these, our daughter and our son, wanted us to hear their quiet declarations. This wedding unfolded with such ease, unrehearsed and effortless.
He attempted to speak first—the words stopped. He began again, but the words lodged behind the trainwreck in his throat. And the lumps in our throats grew. He started three times, and then the words finally moved. He held my daughter’s gaze, and with such tenderness he promised to provide for her, to take care of her and never to make her drive a minivan. But then he said something we didn’t expect.
“We have learned that love is so much more than infatuation. It’s a choice, and I promise always to choose you.”And we wept. Yes, we cry at weddings. Women leak, often and profuse. Those tears came from a different place than simply emotion.
We wept because we knew they understood the choosing of love. Love chooses—when life gets hard and the ropes pull, and the knots push against one another—it will be the choice made in and by love that will hold them. The knot of this choice will hold and steady Olivia and Nolan until the pressure of life’s circumstances releases.
Olivia reached for her words from me. I held out the narrow slips of paper marked and written in her round manuscript. She looked down at them and spoke. Choreographed words danced forward, soft and tranquil. Her words poured out like oil—anointing him. She too spoke of choosing, and she promised always to cook his eggs over easy.
The pastor, our friend, asked for the rings to seal what they exchanged—these covenants in the presence of witnesses, in the presence of God.
During the whole time, I watched them. Observed the glances and the looks passing through the space between them. I would notice it again later in the evening at the wedding supper. Across the space of a table, I sat diagonally from them in full view of their faces. This boy, this man I now call son, looked at my daughter like my husband looks at me. The other faces around me blurred; their voices muted as I unashamedly stared. Praise rose in my heart; prayer winged out over the heads of the others for her—for them. Lord, let her understand this “seeing”. Let her see the cherishing in this gaze, and may she feel the lavishness of its assurance always.
This gazing passed between them as they stood before us. We felt its gentle heat. The pastor looked at my new son-in-law and stated, “You may kiss your bride.”
Before their lips touched, Nolan’s hands cupped Olivia’s face, and our crying turned to laughter fueled by their radiant faces. We who stood around them knew we had witnessed something extraordinary. I glanced at the knotted ropes behind them. Laying tangled—a witness of the tying of two people, two families. Its knotted lengths now a testimony to the power of God’s enduring grace.
There will come days when the rope will put taut.
May they become one rope, one flesh. That with every pull and tightening of the ropes, Olivia and Nolan will be bound together more and more. Until one day their knots will mesh together—only the texture and color distinguishing the individual strands of which is which, who is who.