I would love to include pictures of Nonno and Deedaw renewing their vows in this post, but in all the hullaballoo, I forgot to put batteries in the camera. I do, however, have what might be called “before and after” pictures.
After 50 years of marriage, two sons, and six grandchildren:
There is pretty, and there is beautiful. Wedding dresses are pretty. Flowers are pretty. Nonno and Deedaw are beautiful.
Yesterday morning, we hurried the tiny people into their best clothes and made ourselves halfway presentable, then ran out the door to make it to the church for 9:00 a.m. Mass. Remarkably, we made it on time, in spite of a mischievous bag of toys that decided to flee the back of my van to have a playtime of their own in the parking lot. If the dictionary people are ever looking for a definition of challenging, I would humbly submit the following: “attempting to keep two preschoolers and a toddler from playing with several dozen small toys that have just spilled out of a bag in a church parking lot.”
Thankfully, years of practicing toy pickup skills helped keep the cleanup time to under two minutes, and we made it to the church on time. The church in which Nonno and Deedaw renewed their promises to one another is the same one in which my husband and I were married a little over eight years ago; part of the roof is made of stained glass, and when the sun comes in through the glass, as it typically does in the late morning, the altar is covered with a thousand fragments of rainbows, dancing among the angels and saints and soothing the wounds of Christ crucified.
On this particular morning, I would venture to say they were dancing the tarantella as Nonno and Deedaw made their way to the altar and spoke anew the promises that anyone who knows them, knows have lived in their hearts for every day of the past half-century. There is pretty, and there is beautiful. The knowledge that they mean every word of those vows is beauty.
After Mass, my husband and I managed to make our way to a quiet corner of the altar, accompanied by our daughters (the boys were thoroughly enjoying all of the attention of their older relatives and did not wish to join our little party), and knelt there, with our arms around each other’s waists, just as we did on the first day of November of 2003. We gave misty-eyed thanks to our gracious Lord and Savior, who joined us in a way that no man may sunder. Like Nonno and Deedaw, we are a little older, a little greyer, a little more wrinkled, but we are building something beautiful together, with faith, honesty, and a love that uses Christ’s love for His church as its model. I don’t know if we will both be alive for our fiftieth anniversary (we would both be 82, if we are), but for as long as we both shall live, I hope we can provide half so powerful a witness of what marriage should be. I hope our children learn the lessons from us that my husband learned from his parents.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for Nonno and Deedaw, who have shown us that after the pretty flowers and dresses are put away, the real beauty of a marriage is the complete sacrifice of each spouse to the other. Please help us teach Your blessings that love between a husband and wife is, like Your love for us, boundless and eternal. There is a reason Your Son performed his first public miracle at a wedding; we would have Your blessings know that marriage is sacred.