Marriage is like a spiderweb. Some are meticulously built in places and ways that withstand all of the elements. Their silky threads delicately wave to and fro through wind and rain, and glisten intricately and ephemerally in the sun. Other webs are begun with the same initiative and dedication, but are instantly dismantled by a human or animal plundering through the woods.
I’ve been thinking a lot about marriages lately. A niece just got married on Saturday. My brother, Tim, exchanged vows with his new wife at the end of July. And, another nephew just announced that he and his lovely girlfriend are engaged.
So much hope and joy and love.
But, I’ve also been thinking about other marriages. A friend of mine is watching his wife of almost 20 years slip away. He has tried everything to heal and save her, and now he is keeping vigil as she succumbs to her illness and fades away from him. I think of friends whose weddings I’ve attended and whose marriages just couldn’t survive those unforeseen bad times and no amount of effort or will or forgiveness could save their union.
Of course, I think of Scott and myself who, when reciting our vows, could never have predicted or prepared for a doctor calling us and saying we had one in a million chance of conceiving a child.
That is marriage. A map with a million miles of road unseen. A spider web that is beautiful and complicated and started with the vision that it will survive everything.
And I think of my parents who this summer celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. How do you make it to fifty years of marriage?
Love. . .effort. . .fortitude. . .and luck.
This summer we celebrated that love and effort and fortitude and luck with a party. When they said “I Do” fifty years ago they honestly had no idea what exactly they were saying, “I Do” to. . .and they also had no inkling what that “I Do” would mean fifty years later. Did they even realize in 1966 that nothing is guaranteed and when they promised . . .through sickness and health. . .through good times and bad. . .through richer and poorer. . .that those times would actually grace their marriage? Would complement and challenge the web that they made together?
So the entire family gathered together and in just that coming together a visual of fifty years occurred. Truly, this is their marriage’s accomplishment: children and spouses and the next generation of families surrounding them.
And the third generation giggled and danced and tried to be on their best behavior. Their own children won’t understand that their parents were part of this grand celebration of love and effort and fortitude and luck. They won’t understand that these fifty years marked their existence, too.
We gathered for a special blessing in a faith that has been central to my parent’s marriage and family. Their faith has continually fortified and blessed their union.
We had dinner with friends and family who had played and still play important roles in my parent’s lives. I broke down in tears when I saw all of these people whose own lives intersected my family’s lives.
My brother, Chad, wrote a toast filled with love and humor and honesty and joy. He captured their essence as a couple and as parents.
And, as with any wedding celebration, cake was served! The cake topper was from my parent’s wedding cake 50 years ago. (I also used the same cake topper on my wedding cake 16 years ago.)
Whatever makes a marriage last fifty years. . .or longer. . .it begins with two people trusting in each other and blindly going forward through sickness and health, through good times and bad, and through richer and poorer. There is no other way. And there is that sense of “by the grace of God we go” trusting that it will last as long as it possibly can.
(All of these photos were taken by the amazingly talented Annie Coppock. You can find her work here. If you live in Colorado and need a great photographer look her up!)