Wedding Day (part two)

Reckless Love – The evening is winding down and I am dancing with my daughter. Her hair is beginning to come undone. She has been twirled and dipped by her new husband several times in the dance prior to this one. There is no twirling in our dance, and certainly no dipping. Mostly shuffling. We make more eye contact in these few minutes than perhaps we’ve made in the last 20 years. Deep brown hair and eyes. Brilliant red lips. Flowing white dress. She is the angel of my life and I just gave her away.

I remember the day I grabbed her by the arm and snatched her up off the floor and scolded her severely for fighting with her brother. It was one of her less than angelic moments. I was tired of hearing it. I had asked them to stop a thousand times. Both of them were relentless. I reached for my belt. It was a half-hearted fake move intended to inspire fear. She flinched and covered her mouth. Her eyes opened a flood gate of tears. Her feet shuffled in a nervous dance.

“Please, Papa, don’t spank me. Noooooo! I don’t wanna. I’ll be good. Please. Please. Please.”

I couldn’t follow through. I was weak. “Well you better, or you know what’ll happen.” The gruff old bear turned his head to hide his sheepish grin.

As we’re shuffling and spinning in a dance-like circle, my mind is on rewind. The VHS footage is playing our movie and I am reminded of a thousand scenes that have defined our life together. Little girl birthdays. Big girl prom nights. Marching band. Car wrecks. Summer vacations. Leaving for college. Chasing down dreams. Messing up and coming home. Finding strength and moving on.

I can see every scene.

Since she was little, she has always been a huge Elvis fan. He died 13 years before she was born, but she latched on to his music and filled her room with everything Elvis. Christmas gifts were easy. Elvis snow globes. Elvis posters. Elvis greatest hits collections. Elvis bobble heads. She even made a pilgrimage to Graceland once upon a time.

Earlier, as we stood near the back door to the sanctuary, the wedding party having made their way to the front, the familiar melody of Elvis began to play. It was her song.

“Wise men say, only fools rush in . . .”

“You ready to do this?”

“Yes sir, I sure am.”

“You know I love you.” I could hardly get the words out of my mouth.

She teared up and fanned her face with her hand. “I love you, Papa.”

“Well, let’s go, then.”

You should have seen her daughter. All grown up tonight. She’s been calling Brandon “Daddy” ever since she found out that a wedding was in the plan. She is so excited to have a father in her life. Yet, she was so serious during the ceremony. She watched every move. She straightened the train of her Mama’s dress. She helped light the Unity candle. And when she and her Dad danced, she never took her little eyes off of him and she smiled the entire time. This was her night, too.

One of the more perfect moments of the night came when the bride and groom played a duet together. Her flute. His trumpet. My buddy Shawn on the piano blending the harmonies. The song was “Reckless Love”. I can’t be sure, but I think I know why she chose that song. When the lyrics reflect your life, the song becomes a part of your own story. She had been reckless with her love once before and it took the reckless love of God to bring her back. It’s really that simple.

It was Solomon who talked about the phenomena of children finding their way back to the things they learn when they are young. Their choices may lead them down some pretty rough roads, but their hearts will return given enough time. Some kids find their way early. Some might take a few decades. She would tell you that finding Brandon was part of her finding her way.

There’s nothing quite like a good wedding to make you forget that the world is a little bit crazy right now. In the middle of an upside down pandemic year, these two found each other. Six months ago, they had never even met. Tonight they became husband and wife. Maybe fools do rush in. But maybe love, real love, just can’t be stopped.

I pray they find their way together. That the hurts and disappointments don’t overwhelm them. That the joys and the laughter come often. That if love is reckless, they abandon themselves to its limitless Resource.

It suddenly comes over me that I’ve been shuffling in a circle long enough. Paul Simon is still singing our dance song. I remember a time when I could dance the night away, but not tonight.

“I think I’m running out of steam, Sweetheart.” I wish I could go on.

“We can stop anytime you want. I’m plenty hot and tired myself.” She is gracious to an old man. I give her my best hug and head for my seat.

It was a beautiful evening. Every Christmas light. Every candle. Every moment. They left in a blaze of sparklers out the front door of the church. The beginning of a new life full of dreams and hope.

I told my wife, “We had ourselves a wedding tonight. Do you think she’s happy?”

“Yeah. She is. I think they’re all happy.”

I’m not surprised. Not one bit.

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