Monday, February 13, 2012

The Invincible Strength of True Love

In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, verses one to thirteen, is famous for the declaration that love is the most important thing in and beyond life. Every time I read it I am amazed by the simplicity and elegance of the message:  

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

With Elizabeth and Matt’s wedding on Saturday, I saw the lesson of Corinthians over and over in the presence of the loved ones who celebrated the day with us.

I saw it in Liddy and Matt themselves, how they rarely took their eyes from each other through the day and how they quietly exuded pure joy as they became husband and wife.

I made the liturgical stole Mother Susan is wearing last year as a gift for her.  She thoughtfully made a point of incorporating it in the ceremony.

It was so wonderful to proudly share the day with Matt’s family, his parents, his grandmother, his uncles and aunts, all of whom have welcomed Elizabeth into their arms unconditionally.

Three years ago, my parents, healthy and independent, were happy guests at Ryan’s wedding. My father, even though he is just over serious surgery for a broken hip and struggles to get around, told me he would do anything for Elizabeth and made a monumental effort to be there. He was palpably missing my mother.

Of course my sister, my cohort in laughter, irreverence and all around goofiness, was a huge part of making the day fun, along with her husband and oldest son.
Memories flooded me as I watched Mary Kate come down the aisle as Matron of Honor. I could see her the day Elizabeth was born, a two year old not quite sure what to make of her new baby sister.

Elizabeth and Mary Kate

James was so handsome as our usher. He had always been like his baby sister’s personal Court Jester. He was a constant, good natured source of entertainment for Elizabeth and would indulge her in playing any game she asked, singing and dancing along with goofy cartoons on TV or acting out scenarios she directed (usually involving dollies and/or Beverly Hills 90210 episodes).

Ryan gave Elizabeth away. As her other wonderful big brother, even though he was so much older, he also was always finding time to play with her, make silly faces, make her laugh.

My sister-in-law and I have been connected by marriage for over 35 years. She is one of the strongest, bravest, most indomitable women I have ever known. She is as gorgeous today as she was the day I met her. She was with us, along with one of her daughters, a beautiful young woman who, along with her five sisters, I am proud to call my niece.

Friends who have watched Elizabeth grow up surrounded us. These are friends who are true soul mates, people who are so good and good to me they never cease to amaze me with their endless loving kindness. Louise and Henry looked after my father for us and brought him home when he was not well enough to stay any longer, even though it meant they had to leave the reception early. Michael and Bill looked after me all day, getting my massively heavy power wheelchair in and out of the SUV multiple times, a huge outlay of energy and effort. Christine videotaped the wedding as a gift. Juanita and Michael are two of my favorite people in the world, elegant, charming, and, more than anything, kindred spirits. To say I am lucky to have all these people in my life does not even begin to do them justice.
As our youngest, Elizabeth held a special place in her father’s heart. With the other kids in school, she and her dad often spent their days together with long walks and trips to the park, just the two of them. She remembered him by carrying his pocket watch with her bouquet.

Ryan walking Elizabeth down the aisle.  Dennis' pocket watch is attached to her bouquet in memory of her dad.

Matt and Liddy’s friends embraced them with laughter and affectionate teasing throughout the day. His best man Jonathan, his friend since nursery school, gave a funny, touching toast that defined what a loyal and true friend Matt is.

My happiness was rounded out by running into other friends after the wedding at the church, by friends of Matt’s parents at the reception and by dear ones who couldn’t make it but were with us in spirit.

These people are the definition of love. The family members who spitefully declined Elizabeth’s loving invitations were not missed. They do not meet the criteria. Love is patient, love is kind. It keeps no record of wrongs.

It always protects. Love never fails.

And now these things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Some more pictures:

Here comes the bride, escorted by her brother Ryan.
Elizabeth and Matt
One of the centerpieces we brought home.
The banner I made for them.

Banner close up

 My sister Cathy and I


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Pricilla said...

What a lovely couple! It sounds like it was a perfect day. Thanks for sharing it....

Muffie said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, Marie. Their love just radiates from their smiles. May they have a long, loving life ahead!
PS. Did you get to wear your shoes? Why no pix of you?

Marie said...

Pricilla - Thank you! It was a perfect day!! Everyone was so happy and we had so much fun!!

Muffie - Thanks for your good wishes! I did wear my shoes! I ordered them a half size larger than I usually wear to make sure they would fit, but they were too big! They were a very pretty pair of sling back flats, but they continually slipped off my feet. My legs are not strong enough to wiggle back into them, so my friend Michael spent half the day like Prince Charming, on his knees putting my shoes back on. lol Finally I just left them off.

Umm, yeah, about no pictures of me... I have gained so much weight between medication and immobility that I am absolutely devastated. It was the one thing about Saturday that was not perfect, I was just sick about how I look. Everyone says things like "oh you're being ridiculous" or "it's who you are that matters" or "you are beautiful inside and that is what counts" but that doesn't change how I feel and how I feel is just awful. I am miserably uncomfortable and it is unhealthy and I have to do something about it, although I don't know what. I can't exercise any more and I am very careful about what I eat.

I know there is a picture of my sister and I that is not too bad, but it is on her camera, so I will post it when I get it.

Sorry to be such a bummer. :( Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can get back to a normal, comfortable size before the next wedding, which will be sometime this autumn, because Mary Kate just got engaged. :)

Anne said...

Your girls are absolutely gorgeous--what a beautiful bride Lizzie is. Congratulations to Mary Kate on her engagement. I can sympathize with your concerns over your weight gain. Discomfort and worry about health risks sap the joy out of many things. I worry about you and hope you find a way to feel better.

Marie said...

Hi Anne!!!

Thank you for your lovely words. Can you believe it?!? My two little girls are all grown up. Elizabeth was the happiest bride I think I have ever seen.

I know you sympathize with the weight business. Now that I can't walk anymore I am terrified I will never lose anything. I have cut back to 1000 calories a day and still nothing budges. You are so sweet, but don't worry. Just keep your fingers crossed that I find a solution. I am determined!

I hope all is well with everyone!! xoxo

Anji said...

That was a beautiful post. Lovely pictures and I love the way Elizabeth included her father by carrying his pocket watch.

I'm pleased it all went well for you all.

Debbie said...

beautiful marie...what a happy day! the banner you made is just gorgeous, a timeless treasure.

i hope you change your mind and include a picture of yourself, i would love to see your smiling face!!

best wishes to the happy couple!!

Marie said...

Anji and Debbie, how did I miss your lovely comments?!?!

It was a fun day filled with much laughter and happiness.

It was really moving to see Elizabeth carrying that watch.

I'm glad you like the banner, Debbie. The pictures aren't very good, but it did turn out very pretty.

I have relented and posted the picture of my sister Cathy and I. Oy vey.