During the wedding reception Saturday, the bride's sister, for her toast, had set up a slideshow. She said it was memories from the past, present and hope for the future. In the past few years most of the weddings Beve and I have been to have had similar kinds of slide shows, complete with music people can hum (or in SK's case, sing harmony to). People watch and say 'aww' at the photos of the babies, laugh at the silly ones, and get a sense of who these people are. I like these power point shows, I like learning about the people who are so earnestly pledging their lives to each other.
But the show on Saturday was different. Yes, it had baby pictures, pictures with siblings, pictures of childhood activities and teenaged friends. But these pictures were all of the bride. The only time the groom showed up in the 15 minutes worth of photographs, was when he actually showed up in her chronology--about a year ago.
Now, as always, I loved what I learned about the bride. I saw what a great fit she is for my nephew, at least in terms of activities. Does she golf? Check. Ski? Double check. Like athletic pursuits of all kinds? Again, she's good to go. Sure, this is a superficial way to determine compatibility, but I'm here to tell you, liking the same kinds of things definitely helps, especially since they're certain to discover how different they really are beneath the skin once they're back from the honeymoon, trying to fit all their clothes into the same closet and all their very selves into the same space for 'as long as you both shall live.'
But to be honest, I spent much of that slideshow waiting for pictures of my nephew. Watching for a glimpse of the little blond boy I remember, the soccer-kicking, baseball-hitting, golfing fiend. The one who grew up to be kind, open and desiring to please God in his inimitable easy-going, don't-make-waves way. All of his family was watching for him, I think. Finally, when I was growing restless and antsy because there'd only been about half a dozen pictures of him in the whole batch, I glanced over at him. And he was grinning at the screen. Entranced by the images, one after another, of his bride. He could have sat there all day.
The whole thing gave me pause, though. As I stood watching for a glimpse of my nephew in the long history of the bride's life, I imagined a slide show of my own life playing. How many images of of the Bridegroom would there be? Where does He engage with my history to make His presence the central picture the world sees? Is He visible at all? Or are my words merely words, without ever becoming technicolor (or whatever it is now) in the life I actually live? I think there are moments when He's in the corner of my portraits, and sometimes when He's standing beside me, and every now and then, when I've really taken the Kingdom seriously, let the cross have its way with me, He is the Only Person in the picture. There are such moments in my life--but not often enough. And probably those moments aren't even the ones I think they are. I mean, maybe I think He's front and center in the picture when I'm giving a sermon, or writing devotionals for a retreat, something 'overtly' Kingdom-coming. But maybe it's those times when I'm least conscious of what I'm doing, when a friend asks me to pray with them, and there He is between us and I didn't even think about it--maybe it's then that He's the only One in the picture.
But my heart's cry is to find Him more. And to have my neighbors (near and far), when they watch my life, see only Him.
By the way, I have a feeling, that like my nephew, when God watches our slideshows, He gazes with adoration at our faces. He is, after all, the Bridegroom, and in love with us.