We stood on the concrete driveway, two of our three grown kids and me. Anna and Nick stared up at the cloud-covered sky as our bare feet soaked up the warmth from the sun we couldn’t see.
I looked around. The grass seemed greener. The swallows flocked together. The temperature dropped. Though not completely dark, a thin veil of lightest gray covered the fields and us. I prayed silently.
God, would you part the clouds for just a few seconds so we can see your glory?
The gray split for a few seconds. We saw the moon in front of the sun, a black disk trying to hide a brilliance with no bounds.
I prayed again, this time out loud, this time with arms stretched wide, my face to the sky.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above heavens . . .
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Could there be anything more fantastic than this celestial spectacle?
What about an impromptu wedding put together in three hours?
CAST OF VISITING CHARACTERS (and I do mean characters!):
Jenny and Roy and their 8-year-old daughter, Rachel. (Our dear friends from India who began a ministry to the downtrodden in a remote village on the border of India and Nepal, some thirty-some years ago.)
Sharon and David. (Roy’s sister and her husband, both born in Lucknow, India and now living in Australia.)
Daphne and Tom. (Daphne, also born in Lucknow, India, now lives in Washington D.C. Good friends with Sharon and David. Has been dating Tom for a year. Tom grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, right across the street from Lambeau Field. Also lives in Washington D.C. Still a Cheesehead Packer’s fan. Loyal to the bone.)
Sharon and David, Daphne and Tom arrive and join Jenny and family, staying at our Lake Michigan cottage up the road.
All come for dinner on the farm that night. Todd and I meet Sharon and David, Daphne and Tom for the first time.
Jenny predicts we’ll all became instant friends. We do.
I joke about Daphne and Tom tying the knot in our garden since we’re all together from around the world.
When might such a global reunion occur again? I never expect Daphne and Tom to accept my half-joking invitation.
I ask all to come for lunch the next day at noon.
11 AM Friday morning. Jenny calls.
“Heather! Daphne and Tom just told us they want to have a commitment ceremony in your garden!”
Phone lodged between my ear and shoulder, I’m putting grilled bratwursts into the crock pot for lunch—a lunch of left-overs from Jenny and Roy’s ministry fundraising party Todd and I hosted the Saturday before.
“Oh! Really? That’s great! When?”
I nearly drop the phone.
She squealed the words “commitment ceremony” and “Today!” in her perfect British English with an Indian accent.
“We’re looking at dresses right now! Isn’t this amazing?! They don’t expect anything! Just keep it simple!”
Does she know that “simple” is not my middle name?
Yours truly morphs instantly into multiple persons—wedding planner, floral designer, caterer, decorator, photographer, chief delegator.
Rachel and Anna run around with me, gathering flowers from the garden and fields. I arrange a bridal bouquet, flower-girl bouquet and altar display in a vintage, galvanized, olive-collecting bucket from Israel.
Nick downloads Pachelbel’s Canon and Danny Gokey’s, Tell Your Heart to Beat Again. He sets up the tech on the deck.
I run to the store for balloons and a bottle of champagne.
Todd and Roy, an ordained minister, search the Web for ceremonial words Roy will speak.
Jenny and Sharon dress and adorn Daphne in the master bedroom.
I cut a flower sprig off the front door wreath to pin in Daphne’s hair.
Anna and Rachel pull the ivory matelassé quilts off our loft couches and spread the aisle runner.
I drag wicker and wood chairs to the deck and hang wreaths over their backs.
Todd grabs potted pink geraniums to line the aisle.
I set out a post-ceremony spread of bratwurst and buns, baked beans, multiple kinds of Wisconsin cheese, fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries. I rinse the vintage Forstoria goblets Todd and I toasted our wedding with 24 years ago, this month.
Precisely three hours after Jenny’s phone call, Daphne walks down the aisle and into our gardens to meet her groom in what would be the wedding that would eclipse the eclipse—two people, committed to God, committed their lives to one another here on our farm. Two people we had met less than 24 hours before.
I learned something about going with the flow—about letting the Spirit lead.
There’s nothing more spectacular, more awe-inspiring, than witnessing two people joining their lives together for God’s glory—to serve as one in the expansion of God’s kingdom.
There’s nothing more moving than seeing two broken people put back together by God, blessed and commissioned to go out into the world and serve Him together.
I capture the holy ceremony and celebration on camera while blinking away tears blurring my view. I wish I would live every bit of my life with such wild abandon, giddy for God, letting Him lead me as He wills. For now, I’m experiencing what I imagine meeting my Bridegroom might be like someday.
A holy ecstasy, really.
We laugh. We cry. We hug. We eat. We send them on their way to the wedding night place we pooled our money to bless. We wave as their car kicks up dust going down our gravel drive.
And then, I collapse. Right there in the middle of the farm’s front lawn.
The other women all join me there on the grass. We laugh some more. Like a little kid, I reach over and hug Jenny. And I think . . .
This is bliss. This is what heaven will be like.
Away they went, Daphne and Tom. Next day, they return the favor by treating us all to a divine dinner at Whistling Straits (which is far from free!)—a Kohler Destination here on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shore.
We ate and toasted and laughed.
After dinner, we drove to Sheboygan, to South Pier, for ice cream cones. We strolled along the water and danced to Hindi music on a cell phone. We photographed each other to hold memories.
And then, this side of heaven, all things come to an end.
We said our goodbyes. All would fly away the next day to different destinations.
I don’t know when we’ll see these people again. God only knows.
But I do know we’ve got eternity together because of Christ.
I do know we’ll laugh and dance and lay on the grass of our eternal home.
We’ll praise our Lord, the God of holy relationship.
And we’ll raise our arms in praise of the One we all came together to praise, last Friday, this side of Heaven.
And one day of God’s choosing, we’ll all walk down that holy aisle toward our Bridegroom Jesus, eager to receive us—with open arms—with full hearts.
We will embrace and we will never be severed.
For what God has joined together, nothing can separate.
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