Monday, March 31, 2008

I Got Married in the Morning

Well, the afternoon. And now ... I'm married. I'll talk about the honeymoon another time (Disneyland! I really need to come up with a blogname for ... er, that person I don't have a blogname for). For the moment, the wedding.

For the most part it went as I expected, which is to say that it rocked. There were a few surprises, though. I didn't expect to get to worship with my dad. But we did, which was really excellent, because nobody worships like my dad. I didn't expect the girls to have to fix my waistcoat's buttonholes with scissors and a hot glue gun. But that's okay. I got lots of compliments on it anyway, which made me happy for Thayet, and now it matches my tails even better. I certainly didn't expect everybody to forget about putting the communion elements out. But that's okay too. I value communion as something more than a mere symbol, but the body and blood of Christ are not grain and the fruit of the vine. We partook - we partake - of them anyway, because we are his.

And in the end, it was probably for the best. I would have been honored to have Vonsus perform our wedding, and I would have been honored to have the Cardinal do it too. But the actual solution worked out specially. To explain why I'll have to digress:

Not quite three years ago, The River (that's my church) had a message series on prayer, and one of the sermons challenged us to ask God for something really, really big - the sort of thing for which you hardly dare hope. They gave a little glass bead to everyone at the service, and put up a big glass hurricane jar at the front of the sanctuary, where it still stands. They challenged us to pray for our big thing until we felt God had answered, and when he did, to just put our little bead in that jar.

Those of you who remember that time will remember that Thayet and I were ... well, not going well. Pretty much everybody was of the opinion that we were bad for each other. And, just to keep the record straight, in a lot of ways we were bad for each other then (this is a useful lesson in interpreting the advice of friends, even when they speak with the voice of the Lord. Just because the prophet ties himself up doesn't mean you don't go to Jerusalem). So what did I pray for? I prayed for one day, someone to say that they saw God in our relationship.

And I prayed. And I prayed. And I kept that little glass bead in my special bronze box that my sister brought back from Rome. Maybe people saw it. Maybe they didn't. But the first person who said it was David Alvarez, who wouldn't have been there but for the communion mix-up, and he hadn't planned to say it. David's the kind of guy who knows how to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit even when he doesn't understand.

That's when I started crying.

I could give a blow-by-blow of the wedding and reception but I'm not sure I have anything to say about them other than squealing, so I think I'll hold off on that unless there's some kind of popular outcry. If you're reading this you were almost certainly there anyway. I will say, though, that the reception was an awesome party. Lots of people have said so, anyway, and I am of the same opinion. Everybody said you don't get to dance at your own reception. Well you do, so there. And ohhhhh, it was good. I didn't get to dance with everybody I wanted to, but if you dance, and you were there, you were invited at least in part to be part of the dance party. Because dancing gives form to the joy in my heart (more on that, hopefully, in the following post re: honeymoon). Because I understand the heart of David better when I dance. Your dancing helped me worship. Your dancing helped seal my marriage vows.

A co-worker asked me the other day if it felt different to be married. The correct answer, it seems, must surely be no. After all, if one has come this far, and if one has been sure, how much different can it be?

It feels different.

It's difficult to express why, or how. I have a sense of finally tipping over a threshold, and settling onto a foundation. I fit better into the world. As we sang at the marriage, here - here - I raise my ebenezer. This is where I belong.

But it's more than the feeling of finally arriving on station. I've felt that before. There is a sense of becoming that is different from other times in my life. Prior to now I have been able to look at myself and say, "I am this or that" or look back on a season of my life and say, "Ah yes, the Lord has been making me such and such." But I have never before felt these identity shifts in the way I do now, like I'd grown a ... not a new limb, that's too small. More like a new person.

Speaking Natalie that's now how I'd put it, but it describes how I feel. Let me attempt a more precise formulation. There is me, there is her, there is God, and there is a fourth entity in the room that is us, our family. The entity I refer to as "me" has expanded in a way I have no analogue for except for the Godhead; I am not just pledged to but am actually part of a real, suprapersonal entity. A living thing, not just a level of organization. It didn't exist before. Maybe it was growing - maybe in the instant before God joined us in the heavenlies it was substantially the same as the instant after. I imagine the same is true of babies being born - and that they feel the difference as strongly all the same.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I'm Getting Married in the Morning ...

Anybody else remember that song? Anybody else feel like I should be singing that right now at the top of my lungs, with a group of guys around me laughing and swinging their beer mugs (or Mountain Dew cans)?

Okay, I know what you're actually thinking: it's 0200 the morning I'm going to get married, and I ought to be in bed. Well, yeah. But there's laundry to wash, and it ain't washing itself, and none of you are gonna wash it for me. Besides, by the time you all read this it'll be too late, so there.

At any rate, there's no singing, no guys, and certainly no Mountain Dew (I do want to go to bed tonight!). Just me, and the sound of my keyboard clicking away, and the hum of the washer and dryer. I have my headphones on, but I'm not listening to any music. Just me and God, alone in the dark and the quiet.

I'm getting married in the morning.

Let me stop here and say that I am really excited about getting married. I cannot wait. I am ready to rock - this is my wife we're talking about, my perfect companion. I want to get this party started; I want to do this; I want to be about it, because this, gentlemen, this is the moment you officially become ... well, you know the rest.

So if the tone of this post is solemn, don't think that I'm sitting around over here moping. I just needed some time to draw out the quieter thoughts in my heart right now. I hope the effect is poignant rather than sad.

I will get married wearing exactly what I wanted to be wearing. Most of it will not be new. I will be wearing my old trusty socks, and my old trusty shoes, in my old trusty tux pants and the tailcoat which has seen me through so many evenings. Most of it is neither fancy nor of the best quality - my lapel will still have the old familiar tear (which nobody will see, because nobody ever does). My trousers are not tailored. My socks will be comfortable, and I've either misplaced my shoe polish or it's been packed away already. The shirt will be new, and the waistcoat will be hand-sewn by my love. That's as it should be. The waistcoat should be new, and special. But the rest is and should be old and worn and familiar. Not shabby, mind. But not perfect. My trusty old tailcoat has its problems. But this is my tailcoat. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Did I mention I'm getting married in the morning? Well, the afternoon?

Tomorrow there will be guys and laughing and noise and allusions, and I will fuss over my guys' clothing. And when I put on own clothes probably nobody will know that I am being thankful for the woman who will walk down the aisle to stand beside me. But I will be. And I will know.

The last momentous event in my life kind of overtook me before I was ready. I did better this time - I hope she did too - but it rather overtook me all the same. After all, I'm doing laundry right now instead of sleeping. The programs probably got done (if they're done) only just recently. There has been no time to reflect, to be quiet, to absorb what is coming before it comes. There probably never will be again. It's sad, in a way. That's how I used to live - absorbing and digesting the future in the present.

People sometimes like to joke with grooms that all they have to do is stand up there and say, "I do." I know those people mean well but I find such well-wishing offensive. That is not all I have to do. Weddings exist to solemnize our promises, because the truth is that promises carry more weight when they're solemnized. We dress in our finest, we invite our friends, we decorate, we choreograph ... why? To throw a party? For shame. We do it (or we should) to add weight and gravity to what we're doing. To make our promises more real. To sink them deeper into our bones. That's where they ought to live always, whatever the circumstances. But they don't.

Part of that solemnization, for me, is absorbing what's to come. Oh no, I most certainly do not just have to stand up there and say, "I do." There ought to be a good deal more to it than that.

Most of the ways I would have solemnized this event for myself did not get to happen. I didn't get to go down to the stone river to pray. I didn't get to sit in the cold at the feet of the Fallen Caryatid and mourn my mistakes and sink into God's grace. I played no Descent. I ate no dinner at my special table at Dave and Buster's. I did not get to worship while my father played the piano. There have been no long talks, no walks in the moonlight singing softly. I have not looked at the stars in the wide domed sky.

Instead there has been dull, paper-pushing work, and late nights staying up until 3:00 working on the wedding. Losing sleep. Being stressed. Not having enough time.

Which would you rather have? Now that they're both behind me, I choose the second.

It isn't idyllic, but it has one thing that the first option doesn't have: Thayet. We stayed up late together. We lost sleep together. We stressed together. We ran out of time together. And tonight, although we are in separate places, we are even doing laundry together.

This is the woman I first fell in love with, this warrior woman, this Lucy the Valiant. The one who loses sleep just so I won't have to stay up working alone. The one I can wade into problems with. The one who fights beside me - not before, not behind. Do you remember when I decided to propose to her, the song in a created language that I struggled to master that night? One of the lines goes Jorsoran kando a tome: we shall bear its weight together.

It isn't perfect. We'd both have liked to have been done by now - by this whole week, in fact. I wish I had done more - a lot more - in doing this together. But we did do it together, at the end of the day; we stuck with each other and acted like knights. Jorsoran kando a tome ib'tuur. I suppose to some people it looks like we've just been running around too distracted by planning to focus on the wedding. But we did a tome, and I can feel that sinking into my bones. I'll take weeks of losing sleep with my beloved over getting to perform all of my rituals alone any day. This is my wedding. There are many like it, but this one is ... ours.

Tomorrow I will arm in my tails one more time. I wouldn't want a new coat, I think. This one has carried me this far, and it deserves to carry me at least one step farther.