Friday, July 29, 2011

The bride

I've been busy with whirlwind visiting the last couple of days. Visiting family-style, I should say, which means we've been lacing some sightseeing with shopping, eating (obviously), plenty of teasing, a bit of 'I don't care, whatever you want to do' responses with over-planning and great conversation.  It's been fun, rich and exactly what the doctor ordered for my sister, little brother, nephew, niece and me.  No matter what the size of family contingent, we always find a way to make it feel like home.  That's my favorite thing about us.

Unfortunately BB's wife, sons and mother-in-law left yesterday morning for Michigan to attend a beloved grandfather's memorial service or our numbers would have been larger.  We regret their absence, feel their grief and pray for them as they gather with a large extended family.  Having been in those shoes a year ago, I know exactly how important such a time together can be.  Thus the five of us are rattling around this large home with a couple of very small dogs, and one far-too-enticing pool which calls my name every hour of the day and night. Sigh.

Yesterday we wandered through Plimoth Plantation.  We visited a replica of a Native People village where three men, dressed in loin clothes were building a winter home exactly as those People would have centuries before white folks set foot on this continent.  "You are very fortunate to see such building," they told us.  I was a bit too distracted by the small bits of leather covering their most private of parts to appreciate such words. I'm a creature of my age, sorry to admit.  What if one thing or another moved or slipped out or got caught on something?  Wouldn't there be an embarrassing or even painful consequence of such a build then?  It only made sense to hurry on so I could take such thoughts captive to God in the 1627 village of Plimoth, where the characters were over- rather than under-dressed for the day. 

Tonight, in Boston, we ate dinner at a small tavern near Fanueil Hall, first opened before the revolutionary war, a tavern called 'The Bell in Hand.' I'm rarely a fan of taverns and the like, but this one has character.  A history worth the price of the meal.  It was opened before the revolutionary war by a town crier who was like the local newspaper keeping the community informed of weddings, deaths and all things large and small between.  The windows, with giant hinges, were swung wide open to allow breezes from the busy streets, and as we sat there, I could image we were back in the 1700s, drinking our ale, watching life go by outside as we ate and drank and made merry with our family.  And as we watched, a bride and groom walked past with a photographer snapping one shot after another.  In another instant they were inside the tavern, then a couple was quietly asked to move from a table for a moment so they could pose in an open window near us, with a rather picturesque old tavern across the cobblestone path across the way their backdrop.  I was charmed by the vinette, by the rightness of such a moment in such a place as "Bell In Hand."  The town crier of old would have proclaimed their union to all and sundry and now they came to his very door, so to speak. 

Then I thought of how Plimoth tries to show us what life was like back then, how it simulates the ancient ways to the Natives here first and the colonists who made an uneasy life among them. Yet there is something truer in a picture of more timeless moment--a bride in white, a groom (a little nervous, not quite smiling, thinking more about getting through this day than the day itself) and its ancient significance in a real place, than a replica of one.  Marriage goes back to the dawn of time.  It is God's answer to man's deepest needs: not to be alone, and to populate the earth.  It is part of His plan for us.  Every culture, whether they acknowledge Him or not, know and put this in place.  And so even as I sat in awe of all the old things I've seen on this trip, God was reminding me of the more important, older things. He, and His ways, are older.

And then there is marriage as a symbol.  That bride--like every bride--is a symbol of the best beloved of God Himself.  What a privilege it is for a woman to stand in such a place for a day.  I confess I was so busy looking at Beve I took it for granted.  But looking back, I know and appreciate the honor.  And looking at that very pretty bride this evening, I thought of how beautiful the Bride of Christ is.  Even set among the old cobblestones of old cities and worn-out streets of our world.  He loves His bride and she is perfect in His sight.

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