"This touches on a real paradox: as humans, we crave belonging, we need the connectedness to others that brings security, but this connected ness can prevent the natural movement and evolution that we need in our lives. It can also get in the way of creativity and stifle the natural loneliness that pushes us to discover something new, that pushes us closer to God . . . we are caught between competing drives, the drive to belong and be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and the drive to let our deepest selves rise up, to refuse the accepted and the comfortable. . . it is in the group that we discover what we have in common. It is as individuals that we discover a personal relationship with God. We must find a way to balance our two opposing impulses. " Becoming Human, Jean Vanier.
(All quotes from chapter one of this book, highly recommended. Raising children, getting married, this is about becoming human. Human in the glorious sense of that word, soaking in love, being refined into the imago dei.)
"There are, for me, seven aspects of love that seem necessary for the transformation of the heart. . . The first is to reveal someone's beauty, to reveal their value by giving them time, attention, and tenderness. . . To love also means to understand, and this is the second aspect of love."
(Abby's parents said their goal in this party was for Luke and Abby to feel loved. I think they succeeded grandly, because this night was just the flowering flame on a bush of days and years of loving, giving, noticing, protecting, honoring.)
"The third aspect of love is then communication. Communication is the heart of love.. . understanding, as well as truth, comes not only from the intellect but also from the body."
(Vanier writes from the perspective of a life with persons who have intellectual different-abilities. When we reflected on this wedding, we all felt one of the highlights was the giftedness of our nephew Micah, his unabashed joy in dancing at his cousin's wedding. He carries an open-hearted curiosity towards others, a passion for music and rhythm, a delight in being in the middle of the crowd, that lifted all of us to a better place. Both Luke's and Abby's family have members with a spectrum of different genetics and life-long challenges, and we are the richer for it. And Luke is one of the few doctors I can imagine who would have connected with a Congolese refugee janitor so meaningfully that he would also brave the journey and crowd to join in.)
"The fourth aspect of love is celebration. Every child, every person, needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated."
(Those are celebrated faces right there. It takes a village as pictured below, to help convince someone they are a source of joy. And the effort and sacrifice these people made to come and be with us . . we are so grateful.)
"The fifth aspect of love is empowerment. It is not just a question of doing things for others but of helping them to do things for themselves, helping them to discover the meaning of their lives. To love means to empower."
(I'm not sure we helped Luke discover he could do things for himself, so much as gave up trying to prevent him. Still, a wedding is a milestone of launching, a time of leaving that must precede cleaving to a new loyalty.)
"Communion is the to-and-fro movement of love between two people where each one gives and each one receives. Communion is not a fixed state, it is an ever growing and deepening reality . . [of] mutual vulnerability and openness."
(Abby and her sisterhood, perhaps most significantly Ruth (second from left) and her new sister Julia (far left). Vulnerability needs practice, and that is difficult in a culture of shame, of canceling, of taking the easy road of scorn rather than the harder road of empathy. We should all be on our knees over the fear of vulnerability in our world right now. We're a mess, and God loves us anyway, and in that very fragility we find beauty. Truth.)
(My two generations, daughters and mother, a bridge between)
My mom brought out the same dress she wore to my wedding 32 years ago.
"There is a seventh and final aspect of love, and that is forgiveness. All of us carry within ourselves brokenness, as well as shadow areas, dark corners of the spirit. Human beings cannot be constantly attentive, loving, and nonviolent. [we must] learn that is is acceptable to be less than perfect."
(These seven taught our four kids at various stages in Uganda, forging life-long ties as mentors and friends. Surely that's what living a forgiving life looks like, being able to encourage and empower children and having the joy of watching them grow into adults).
(Light was flowing this weekend. A celebration is a form of prayer, a time apart, a sparkling glimpse of eternity. Keep praying for Luke and Abby who have been plunged today back into trauma and impossible situations and sleepless nights. Pray they would seek the primary connection of their own new community of a family, and they would take their aches and loneliness to God. Pray they would be strengthened by love to risk, and that sacrifice would bless this world.)