Yesterday, we had the privilege to witness the marriage vows of the daughter of dear friends of ours. The family moved into the house next door 19 years ago, when the bride was just five years old. It was a beautiful day, unlike this morning as I sit here listening to, and watching the pouring rain.
The wedding took place in Egg Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin. For most couples this would be considered a destination wedding, but as the bride’s family has owned property in Door County for years, it was home. The wedding was perfect. It has been a very long time since we have attended a wedding where as much detail and thought went into the ceremony, as into the reception. It was a ceremony filled with love – love for each other, for family, and love of God. This theme was followed through as we settled in for a delicious meal, and listened to the loving words that each of the fathers, the bride’s brother, and their attendants shared with the couple, and with us.
Obviously I enjoyed myself. The beautiful setting of Door County, and the Horseshoe Bay Golf Club, created a mini vacation for us. But all of this beauty is not the reason for this post, the sharing of love on the other hand is the reason for the post.
In the month of July we lost three family members. One too early from cancer, and the other two, a brother and sister, who had lived long and fulfilling lives. Sitting through the funerals, one thought kept coming back to me – how sad, that while the priests did their best, but because they did not know the deceased well, if at all in this day of combined parishes, they missed the boat as to how amazing these people were. Or they just rambled on with platitudes to fill time.
By contrast, yesterday I sat listening to the priest from Stella Maris parish give a meaningful homily for this young couple that he barely knew. He has a strategy that I wish would be used for funerals, and for weddings. He prefaced his homily by stating that as his parish was a destination wedding spot, he in a sense, vetted each couple to see if they were indeed ready for this important sacrament. As part of the process he asked each of them to write down five words that described themselves, five words that described their fiancé/fiancée, plus answer other questions that forced the couple to look at themselves, and to look at their intended. The homily then was built around the answers that he received. The result was meaningful, humorous, and at times touching, for not only the couple, but to those of us witnessing their wedding.
As I listened, I couldn’t help but think that if this model was used as part of the funeral preparation, funerals would be much more meaningful. And I bet it would ease a lot of the stress of creating a homily about a person you never knew. When meeting with the family at the time of planning, asking them to each list five words that described their loved one, would give a much more rounded and personal view of the deceased. I know that I would have appreciated this approach as funerals for immediate family members had been prepared.
Weddings and funerals. It may be because I am a genealogist and family historian that I want to hear something meaningful. Something about the couple/person that I can take away from the day, and ponder.
Yesterday gave me much to think about.