Monday, October 18, 2010

Thoughts while sitting at the bottom of a ski slope in autumn.

This weekend, I went to a wedding.

I’ve been to lots of weddings, some in synagogues, some in cathedrals, some in clapboard chapels, some on the beach. This one happened to be on the side of a ski hill….a very particular ski hill.

Ziggy - spring 1975
I didn’t realize where I was going until I was driving down the gorge to the chalet. And it wasn’t until I was shown to my seat that I looked up…and my breath was sucked right out of me. You see, I knew this hill. Back in the day, when I was the one with the car and my buddy Ziggy wanted to go skiing, I used to pack my books, and sit in the chalet with a hot chocolate, pretending I was studying but really watching out the window to see him swoosh down the hill, his long hair flying, doing that  hip thing he did.  I was so tolerant of his dragging me out to Afton Alps so I could sit like a latke while he went up and down that hill.

It was hard to sit there and focus on the wedding when, in my mind’s eye, all I could see were those swiveling hips. And they were cute. Trust me. I married those hips. They were cute right up to the end.

Anyway, onto the wedding. I was very excited about attending this wedding and not just because the groom is one of my favorite people…as well as my go-to guy for Greek translation of the Septuagint. These two are the poster children for gorgeous. They are devout in their faith and you knew that every syllable of that wedding would be carefully chosen. I was anxious to see how they made the ceremony their own.

And that’s what confused me. There was so much talk of death and dying in the prayer songs they chose and in the pastor’s sermon that I was almost depressed! I understand the part about Jesus dying on the cross, but for a wedding I wanted the minister to talk about how they are now charged with bringing faith and grace into their new life together. I wanted him to tell them their home should be a place of life and joy and light.

Seated with groom’s family at the reception, I learned I was not the only one who noticed the death and dying part… which made me feel at least a little less weird. One of the groom’s aunts, a Lutheran minister, assured me that she’d not seen anything quite like this either. And the questions I asked were the same questions they asked.

There was great comfort in that; we all had questions about the ceremony. There was no rancor in the queries, no mockery, no judgment, only a real desire to understand the meaning I think we were supposed to get...but that some of us did not. The conversation at that table was spectacular: lively, forthright, and full of honest exchange. There was learning at that table, and I was glad to be a part of it.

I suspect this is the true meaning of faith. What one believes may differ from what others believe, but it is not for any of us to judge what delivers anyone into that place where our spirits are nurtured. That we care enough to want to understand is ultimately what binds us even when we do not share the belief; that we care enough to ask is the real kindness.

Wifely Person’s Tip o’the Week:

Confronted with something foreign and seemingly incomprehensible?
Ask a question.


  1. I agree. I like to learn about other traditions different from my own. Recently I have asked a friend more about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Hannukah.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This is the first time I have read your blog and was surprised to see myself referenced. I look forward to more of your thoughts. I too enjoyed the conversation that evening and getting to know you better. LP

  3. I just happened to find your blog via a David Brooks NY Times column that I probably never would have read except for the fact that it was very early in the morning and there was not much else to do (I don't normally bother with Brooks).

    I've already read your MPR article about work (this morning) and agree wholeheartedly with you (I'm also over 40, actually closer to 50 and think that the whole "fun" at work initiatives are rather silly. I agree that it is the paycheck that gives you the ability to make your own fun).

    I am looking forward to reading more of your Wifely Advice. Isn't technology grand?