At Your Service: August 13, 2008

This weekend, under a perfect summer sun in a glorious garden, I stood among those gathered as a young couple renewed their wedding vows. The first time they said these vows, began the years of marriage they have enjoyed for more years than either of them had then been alive.
As exciting and wonderful as it is to see a couple starting on a new life together, there is something extraordinary about the renewal of vows. When two stand to say that knowing everything I didn’t know then I would do it again, something more than a vow is renewed.
“For better, for worse…” In 30 years one sees how much worse things can get and has the opportunity to explore that which is better. The sun often shines, but the rains can wash away a lifetime’s work in the bat of an eye. Those habits that were slightly annoying in courtship become mountains to scale when the going gets tough. Working it out together makes null and often void the worst and enriches the better making it best.
“For richer, for poorer…” When a marriage starts, most couples are in a poorer state than they will later be. Over time, finances wax and wane. No matter how much money you have poverty always looms without an appreciation of what matters most. Don’t’ get me wrong, money makes a difference in life and generally the more the merrier. But, wealth is never as simple as the size of the bank account, it is the attitude that prevails whatever the amount is. The richest among us are those with an abundance of spirit; it grows exponentially when shared.
“In sickness and in health…” The aging process brings changes in the definitions of health and sickness becomes more real as a condition of life. Cholesterol counts and blood pressure readings become the measure of how well we are doing. Prescriptions take the place of over the counter remedies and we become more and more dependent upon our health care providers. We fight the battle of the bulge until suddenly comes a day when weight loss is not necessarily a good thing. Having someone else to hold the thermometer or run a bath after the chemo shifts the experience, making the worst bearable. Looking into the eyes of love makes us feel better no matter what our body is going through.
“To love and to cherish…” Once love takes hold of our hearts, it is difficult to shake. Even after the nastiest of divorces, people say they still love their exes. But cherishing is not so easy. The day-to-day grind wears down our resolve to appreciate the other. Taking for granted more often becomes the rule as time flies by. Still, it is those who look across the dinner table with a smile that find there is still magic in the tilt of a head or rise of an eyebrow.
“Forsaking all others…” In times riddled with reports of the powerful and wannabes who flaunt affairs in the face of fidelity, it seems an almost impossible demand to hold true to one. In reality there can never be a full forsaking of all others, for we live in community. The children that come along need our attention and work calls us away from one another. Yet, those who manage to put one another first in the pecking order find a place together that is enlivened by its intimacy.
“’Til death us do part.” Time makes more real the prospect of death. We come to a point in life when we attend more funerals than christenings and know our time too will come. Perhaps, with 30 years of life together, we embrace its end more easily; or perhaps it is more difficult to part after so much time conjoined. Whatever is true, the vow resonates with more truth for the breadth of knowledge we bring to it.
Love changes everything. It is what enriches a life, particularly when shared over the years of a committed relationship. It can even make a couple young after 30 years together.