"We've only just begun to live,
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we're on our way.
And yes, We've just begun.
Sharing horizons that are new to us,
Watching the signs along the way,
Talking it over just the two of us,
Working together day to day
And when the evening comes we smile,
So much of life ahead
We'll find a place where there's room to grow,
And yes, We've just begun..."
- Paul Williams/Roger Nichols
I didn't know her well...yet. My friend's mother was a retired widow with a generous heart. When she learned that I had been through a devastating heartbreak, she offered her home as a quiet sanctuary where I could rest, pray, and begin to heal.
I was grateful for her hospitality…and more than a little bit shy. I had visited her home before, but always in the company of her children. This time I was there alone. I arrived late one evening, emotionally and physically exhausted, falling into bed after a brief, warm greeting and being shown to the room I would stay in. The next morning I tiptoed down the stairs just after dawn hoping to make myself a cup of tea and retreat back to my room before she stirred. But as I rounded the bottom of the stairs, I was surprised to discover that she was already up, and sitting on the sofa in front of an open photo album.
After polite "good mornings", I asked if she would mind if I made myself a cup of tea and excused myself to the kitchen with her permission. Minutes later I returned, tea in hand and found her sitting exactly as I had left her…this time a faded black and white photograph in hand, and a faraway look on her face.
I asked her if it was a lovely memory and she smiled and patted the cushion next to her.
As I joined her on the blue plaid sofa, she passed the photo to me and told me that it was her wedding picture. I was not surprised to see a younger version of the kind and gentle woman sitting next to me...smiling, from within the circle of a lanky, grinning young man's embrace, for the photographer. She was in a simple outfit and her expression was peaceful.
I asked her about her wedding. She explained that she and her groom had chosen a simple ceremony with just a few guests. I was surprised. It was curious to me...as a rather romantic young woman who had cut her teeth dreaming through the dog-eared pages of Bride magazine...that someone would actually choose to not have a big beautiful wedding if they possibly could, and asked her why she hadn't.
Her story was simple. But I have never forgotten it.
She told me that she had met her future husband in church one Sunday just after he had begun exploring spirituality and attending her place of worship. They fell in love and he proposed. She said that she thought about a big, fancy wedding, but that planning one would take time. She knew that her groom's spiritual integrity was the most important thing to him…and to her. She also knew that "waiting" through a long engagement, in order to carry out extensive wedding plans, might be difficult for him. So she decided that she would rather have a husband who felt the deep inner strength of his spiritual integrity and courage, than have a big wedding. So she suggested that they get married right away in a simple, modest wedding.
She smiled sweetly when she said that she gave up a fancy wedding and a big beautiful dress for a wonderful man. She went on to say that she never regretted that decision.
This story touched me deeply. My admiration and love for this new friend was forged...and galvanized...by this story. I have never forgotten it…or her.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy says, "Marriage should improve the human species, becoming a barrier against vice, a protection to woman, strength to man, and a centre for the affections. This, however, in a majority of cases, is not its present tendency, and why? Because the education of the higher nature is neglected, and other considerations, - passion, frivolous amusements, personal adornment, display, and pride, - occupy thought."
Over the years I have been amazed at the wisdom and spiritual maturity this, then, very young woman displayed at a time when women were given little credit for making wise choices and thoughtful decisions. What a blessed young man she married. What a blessing she was to me. Her example of true bridal beauty and grace continues to give me pause.