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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.

Annoited 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

I don't call myself a poet — but the beating of my heart is poetry. I don't call myself a theologian — but the light of my mind seeks the Divine. Who I am is a Child of God, a Divine Creation, a person devoted to being fully human, fully alive.

10 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.

    Like

    • 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. Thank you for sharing so intimately with us. The poem is beautiful and I am certain enhanced the joy of your parent’s special celebration. Hugs & Blessings to you!!

    Like

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