Standing there elegant in front of us all, she says to him, “I choose love. I choose you. I choose the wonderful things about you and the things that drive me nuts. I choose the good days and the bad ones,” and her voice doesn’t even quaver.
She is radiant with chosenness, and it strikes me that she’s also wise, wise enough to know that loving him will be messy and also beautiful, wise enough to declare that love is her choice. I think maybe it’s the first time I’ve heard a bride admit, right there holding his hands and surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, that her groom sometimes drives her nuts. I have great respect for moon-eyed love that swallows up the whole of a person, even the shards. At the rehearsal dinner the night before, the bride’s cousin stood up and gestured to her with a lean arm, addressing the groom. “You know, sometimes she can be mean.” Cousin said it half-choking on a laugh, but even I could tell the words rang true, because haven’t we all been just broken-up mean? And the groom smiled, and nodded solid. I hear her say I choose, and I remember the peaceful way he accepted her flaws too, the way he nodded yes, I love. I choose.
Captivated, I think of my own vows, turning the wedding band on my hand. Our cracked-up life has been whole together. It’s you and me, we like to say to each other, looking deeply just like a new bride and groom, letting the periphery blur. And how many times has he looked right at some break in me and nodded solid, smiling slow, just like her groom? Yes, I love.
The minister sweeps an arm through the air above them. “Of all the people you could have chosen,” he says, “you chose each other.” It’s a word with a wedding band in the middle, a covenant word, chosen. It’s the word that makes love glisten, that puts the bloom in a bride’s cheeks. At least for that day, she knows that she’s precious to someone, that he loves her so much he’s publically possessive about it. That knowledge makes her stunning.
I feel a bit like Paul, talking about marriage, the wife, the husband, and meanwhile my mind all tangled up with Jesus:
‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32).
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world, Word says (Ephesians 1:4). He chose us, our groom, looking right into the dark, shattered heart of us. I choose love. I choose you. And the faith in us grasps his hands right there before a cloud of witnesses and whispers, Yes, I love, even when I’m half-blind and I don’t understand. I choose the good days and also the bad ones. Outside in the churchyard, there are maybe a hundred graves, steel-gray headstones–cracked, chiped, time-faded–facing the front doors, witnessing Love. Sitting there joy-wrapped, watching this bride and groom, I wish we could figure out how to wear our chosenness like a band around our fingers. How many times have I seen it, that shine on a fresh soul? Only too soon, the enemy smears not enough not enough never enough all over our faces, as though His love has ever been conditional upon our perfection.
Oh my, remember this, I’m thinking, sitting their blessed among beautiful like-minded friends. Remember that he didn’t look away from your darkness the day he chose to love you. Remember that she knew, that she chose. Remember that Love swallows up the whole of a person, even the shards.