I enjoy celebrating weddings, when it’s a family wedding it’s an even more personal and joyful celebration, when it’s a family wedding being celebrated abroad then it doesn’t get much better.
During the course of the summer I had a cousin getting married in the south of Spain just outside of Malaga. When asked would I like to celebrate the ceremony I had the sun cream and the aftersun in my hands within seconds and began packing my suitcase. There was only about four months to get myself prepared and you couldn’t take any chances. It’s not every day you get offered four days in the sun for one hour’s work. My cousin’s brother lives in Canada and when he suggested getting married I was checking cross-Atlantic flights but then he broke the devastating news that his wife-to-be wanted a traditional Irish wedding. I felt like protesting by saying: ‘I’m sure it rains in Canada as well,’ although in hindsight it was a brilliant family celebration.
So during the dark hours of a Friday morning somewhere around 3.30am I was collected from the parochial house and driven to Belfast International Airport. I was told by the couple collecting me that the airport had a new body scanner and this was causing delays for passengers looking to pass through security. So we arrived in plenty of time which was just as well.
On the journey I was laughing as I listened to two tales, one involving the bride and then one involved the bride and the groom’s mother, her future mother-in-law. Firstly it seems that on the hen weekend personalised t-shirts had been organised for the party. Everyone on the hen had a t-shirt stating whether they the bride, a bridesmaid or mother of the bride etc. When the bride looked at her t-shirt she began to wonder who Bridie was. In confusion her sister turned and explained, it must be one of your friends. Spelling, or reading more to the point, wasn’t their strongest suit on this occasion. I knew this trip would result in a story or two.
Of course I made the usual promises that what happens in Spain stays in Spain. Thankfully the second story takes place on these shores on the way to the airport. It was the Tuesday before the wedding as the bride, groom and some of the extended family were setting off for Belfast.
Slightly beyond the Glenshane Pass the groom’s mother realised she has forgotten her handbag which contained quite a few essentials for the wedding. In a panic she phones her youngest daughter in Derry who isn’t flying out for another few days. Explaining her dilemma she asks her daughter to look about the house or the driveway for her handbag. Dutifully her daughter goes in search of the bag at three o’clock in the morning. A relieved mother receives a phone call a few minutes later as her daughter informs her of the good news; the bag was soaked but it had been found. It seems the handbag had been left on the roof of the car and fell onto the road as they drove off.
Then her daughter asks, are you sure you haven’t forgotten something else? Her mother says, ‘no’. to which she replies: ‘Well there’s a wedding dress lying in a box out on the road.” This too had been left out of the car amid the last minute panic and turmoil as they rushed to get packed.
When I heard this I couldn’t wait to meet up with the concerned parties. As I checked in, passing through security I was thinking about sending a text only to discover I had forgotten my phone. I had left my mobile in the car with was parked in the long term car park, so I had to ask at security to be allowed back through departures and thankfully they couldn’t have been more helpful. The only problem, although self-inflicted, was the need to queue to pass through security again and the queues were longer this time. All in all the wedding was a great celebration and occasion as another couple set out on the voyage of married life.
Who knows what the future will bring. What we rely on when we commit ourselves to another person, when we chose a certain path in life is the grace God grants us to be true to each other and to be true to ourselves. Each day we have to open our hearts and minds asking for the strength to walk the path of discipleship, to be given the patience, courage and generosity to remain committed and faithful.
This is never easy and no matter who we are or where we come from most of us stand in the midst of many broken and fractured relationships. At some level we are familiar with the pain of those who have shed tears and endured the anguish, shame and anger associated with the ending of a relationship. We pray that God will ease their pain and bring healing into the lives of those who have been damaged and scarred by the turmoil and uncertainty which accompany the reality of separation. Jesus puts before us today the ideal of God’s faithful love, each of us is asked to try and mirror this love in all of our friendships and relationships. God never abandons his children, he keeps calling us back to his promises. May we be a sign to all people of God’s desire to heal our brokenness and heal our pain.