So the day is finally here when the babies of our two families take their steps to the altar and become their own family. There is much to say, much to remember on this holy and blessed day, a day I must confess I have been dreading for over a decade.
What to say on this day to the boy I’ve known since our kid hood, since you visited us during our college Christmas vacations in the teeny-tiny apartment on Mission, playing Canadian rummy and taking shots of tequila until we fell out of our chairs? Remember the Christmas Eve masses when Jack told us we were going to hell because we kept falling asleep?
We have laughed and cried together. We have planned funerals and decorated wedding suites together. We have had too many bottles of wine on our back patio, too many “conversations” on the front porch. You were one of the only people kind enough to “sit” with me when I was too sick to be alone. We have fought like siblings do. We have talked it out, worked it through, kissed and made up. Because we are a family, brothers and sisters, and we live these most important moments together, for better or worse.
Now you are starting your own family, and the boyish naivete I once envied in you is now swallowed up by the worries and responsibilities of a husband. You speak of mortgages, children, supporting a family. And I have thought a lot about what it is I should say to you on this day. You’ve heard me scratch like a broken record, trying to tell you how much harder marriage is than you think it will be. I’ve wanted to be honest and real with you so that when you do struggle, you don’t feel alone. And, you know that every marriage has it’s crucial points, points when you want to cut and run. Here in this room are the people who will be here for you. Here are the people who will take your babies so you can get a night away. Here are the friends who have struggled, too. Here are the ones who share a stake in your new family holding together. We will be here for you. You do not have to do this alone.
But what I really want to tell you today, is this: Close the door.
When you come home at night, when jobs are tough and there’s people drama, when there’s not enough money or not enough time and you feel that the world is demanding too much, come home and close the door. Make a conscious choice to leave everyone outside that door, every worry and every stress, and purposely make each other your home and safe place.
Jack and I have seen a lot of hard days, but closing the door, whether it’s in a dingy apartment in the poor part of town, or in a half remodeled house, or in our 5×10 parents’ room in the pediatric intensive care unit, purposefully closing the door and coming home to each other has been our saving grace.
There will be many moments when it’s easier to bring everything inside, and fill up your home with worry and “honey do’s” and burdens. It may even feel good to spew the anger and frustration over life events all over each other. But then, where is your safe place?
Find shelter in each other. Be kind to each other, build each other up, so that your shelter is strong when the winds come.
And when you’ve closed that door? Laugh. Laugh and love each other well.
In Song of Solomon, the bride says of her husband,
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
He says to her,
You are altogether beautiful, my darling;
there is no flaw in you.
Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.
So to you Ben, and your altogether beautiful Bride. The season of singing has come. May the banner over your marriage be one of love and laughter, a shelter for each other’s hearts. I love you.