2014-04-13 – I used to hate weddings. They are an ordeal. You get dressed in uncomfortable clothes and go sit in a room where at least half of the people want nothing to do with you. If you get to know any of them, the next time you see them will be at a funeral. And that’s the good part. The bad part is that the other half of the room is your family. You’re eagerly awaiting their funerals. I used to hate weddings. I still do.
I bring this up because last night we attended a wedding. The groom was my nephew Michael and the bride was my new niece Catherine. I wish them much happiness together.
But that’s not what a wedding is about. A wedding is a somber event designed to remind the happy couple that their lives ahead are not just good times and health and love, but promise bad times and sickness and infidelity and . . . death. Different religions have different rituals and sacraments to “celebrate” a wedding, but they all agree on one thing. They’re all agreed on the four “downers”: bad times, sickness, infidelity, and death.
Sorry, Michael and Catherine. That is what you signed up for.
Now, of course, the religious offer solace for this sorry state of affairs: the grace of God. The shaman officiating at Michael and Catherine’s wedding called upon God. “Pour out Thy grace upon this couple,” he exhorted. “Because you’re really gonna need it,” was unstated, but just barely.
Religions like to pour things.
In my religion, our holiday of pouring begins Monday. That would be Passover. But the thing that we ask God to pour is not grace, but wrath. We say, “pour out Thy wrath” upon those who rose up to destroy us in every generation.
Good times and bad. Sickness and health. Fidelity and infidelity. Grace and wrath. Life . . . but we end up dead.
So we grab on to this moment of life. We gather in a big room. We come from around the country. The lame and the infirm. And those who can’t come have their names called out, their blessings told. We have a feast. The band plays. Those who don’t dance . . . dance.
All in honor of the happy couple.
For one day, we say “pour out Thy grace.” The next day we say “pour out Thy wrath.” And it won’t matter because life contains it all. As Tevye sings in Fiddler on the Roof: “a little bit of this, a little bit of that . . .” The best we can hope for is someone to face it all with us.
I guess that’s not so bad. Is it?
* * *
A young man went out for a spin.
A girl says, “hey, where have you been?”
“Come hop on my cycle,”
Said the man who’s named Michael.
And he rode off with his Catherine.