Wednesday, April 27, 2016
I’ve kept my eyes open and my feet moving lately, but as it turns out a good footprints story belongs to someone else’s feet this time. This is a story about a wedding. This event was a lot of fun, with two families from worlds apart connecting because a couple of their young adults fell in love. The congregation numbered about 50, fairly equally split between white Americans on the groom's side and bronze and brown Cambodians on the bride's side. We had to have rehearsal for the Saturday wedding on Thursday night late, because the couple would have a Cambodian wedding ceremony on Friday evening, the usual time for wedding rehearsal. So we were missing a few of the wedding party on Thursday, most significantly the flower girls and ring bearer. Come Saturday the children came with their families. We would have a very young, short little boy, Anthony, in a vested pin-stripped suit with a clip-on tie, a second-generation Cambodian, serve as the first of three flower children. He would enter first, followed by a pair of equally adorable little girls, Angela, a doll not much taller than Anthony, and Jessica, a twiggy 12-year old cutie with jug ears and hipster glasses, and a glowing smile. None of the children had the opportunity to practice their bit. So, as I like to say, we cannot do anything wrong, so whatever happens, happens. The groom's white, nervous mom is seated; then the bride's mellow, dignified Cambodian mom is seated (after the young woman who was in her spot figured out she needed to scoot over). I then walked up to the chancel steps with a terrified groom. Pachelbel's Canon is cued up on the sound system; I nod to the Wedding Coordinator to begin the processional. Anthony steps into the doorway of the sanctuary, and stands at the head of the aisle leading up to the chancel. All eyes turn to look at him. He glances around the room, and at all the eager faces looming over his head. Then he calmly plucks a single red rose petal from the small basket he is carrying in his right hand. He holds the petal up in his left hand, studies it for moment, looks down at a place on the carpet, and gently drops the petal on the aisle. He continues to do this for each and every petal. He thoughtfully places each and every one, as though each petal has an opinion that must be respected. Step by step, petal by petal, a white one, a pink one, another red one, he slooooowwwwwlllllly makes his way up the aisle. At last he reaches the step up to the platform, where the groom and I are waiting. He continues to take one step and drop one petal right up to the shoes of the groom. Anthony would have kept going right to the far back wall, except that I knelt down, told him he did an awesome job, and gently turned him around to stand and face the congregation, right next to the groom. By now, the song has run down and Kyle, my sound guy, has looped it up again from the beginning. Now is the time for the flower girls to come in. Since their only model was Anthony, they assume that how he did it is how they should do it. So now two little girls are slooooowwwlllly coming down the aisle, dropping one rose petal at a time, apiece. A wonderful thing has happened while the little ones are savoring each beautiful moment, step by step, petal by petal, and Palchelbel's Canon is looping on endlessly. Everyone is smiling. And all the white Americans and brown Cambodians are smiling at each other, and together. From then on, we could do nothing but have a spectacular wedding. At the conclusion, when I pronounced the couple husband and wife, I needed to very quietly ask them what they had decided to do about the kiss. At the rehearsal, the bride felt too shy to practice that part . . . not something one would do in Cambodia, in front of family and friends. So we left rehearsal undecided, with options to smile, hug, high five, spin around and fist bump, or whatever. Now the moment is upon them. The groom is facing the bride, who is lovely in her beautiful white gown, a gossamer veil still over her face. I whisper, "What did you decide?" The groom, who has looked and stood nearly petrified during the whole ceremony, suddenly grows very animated and says, loudly, "We are going to kiss!" Then he lifts his bride's veil and plants one. Applause and cheering ensue. I am so breathless with wonder that I can barely utter the blessing. After the recessional, I thought rose petals in the aisle of the church looked so lovely and so special I asked the folks to please leave them for the people on Sunday morning to see and enjoy. “Are you sure?” “Yes, I am sure.” * * * Come Sunday, several people felt nervous that the floor was littered with now dried up rose petals. I gently forbade any of them from getting out a vacuum, and assured them there was a reason for the petals to be there, and it had to do with a very sweet and special wedding held in our sanctuary the day before. So people came in to worship wondering about the rose petals, and many looking forward to a story. So I told the story of the beautiful wedding, just as we were gathering for worship, having entered the sanctuary with rose petals at our feet. When I finished, the whole congregation applauded. As was completely correct.