Beautiful Day

The title of this post was also the theme song (from U2) for the bride and groom as they walked down the isle as husband and wife. It really was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, babies were sleeping, and there was a radiant, smiling bride! Welcome to the family Tony! Lisa and Tony are now officially husband and wife!

Mom walked Lisa down the isle. I was surprised that Mom did not noticeably cry the whole way down, as many of us expected. They both looked gorgeous. Lisa was beaming! As soon as I have had my first glimpse of the bride I always like to turn back to watch the grooms face. He is, generally, either glowing with happiness and excitement, nervous or crying. Surprisingly, I’ve been to more weddings where the groom cries and not the bride. I think Tony was a mixture of glowing and nervous.

Jon did great too. I was so proud of him. If you didn’t read my last post, Jon officiated his sister’s wedding yesterday. It was a little bittersweet to see him up there. I couldn’t help but think that Dad should have been here to do the ceremony and celebrate with us. It would have been a very different meditation from what Jon did, but still with the same passion, love and expertise. Jon used the parable of Moulin Rouge to illustrate how the choice to love is a choice against oppression. Here is a brief excerpt from his meditation:

“Satine, when faced with the foolish idealism of love, tries to offer a dose of this cold reality. ‘You, you will be mean. And I, I’ll drink all the time.’ What she is expressing is the fear that love is hopeless, because it will never match up to the ideal. If you cannot have perfect love, why have it at all? Christian’s response is almost astonishing: ‘We could be heroes, just for one day!’ Heroes? Heroes are people who fight evil creatures, who stand against tyrants. But he goes on, and now Satine joins him in singing, ‘…. though nothing could keep us together / we can beat them / just for one day / we could heroes / forever and ever.’ You see, every choice to love is a choice against tyranny and oppression. ‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins,’ writes Peter in the New Testament. Love is a choice for life against the darkness of selfishness, depression, self-absorption, hatred, apathy, against all of the things that contribute negatively to our world. Your choice to love each other reaches not only into each others lives, but the lives of your friends and family, into the lives of the children you might have, and their children.

Love will change your life – it already has. And every day that you let your love for each other be seen by those around you, it will change the lives of other. And that is a choice you will have to make again and again in your marriage. Enjoy the days like today, where that choice is easy; savor these memories, and hold them close on the days when the choice is hard. Don’t let cynicism steal the joy from your life. As corny and cheesy as it sounds, be heroes for each other. Do what you can to help each other choose love.”

I love listening to my husband give sermons, of lectures, or thoughtful insights publicly. (I could live with out them on a day-to-day basis, though.) He doesn’t do them very often any more so when he does he puts a lot of energy and thought in to them, consequently, making them good.

Although Jon did such a good job at reminding us all that he IS his father’s son up there on the stage, Dad being here would have warded off some of the pre-wedding drama. Every wedding has its share of drama. It is expected, almost a rite of passage, but nonetheless annoying and unnecessary. We sure had our share of drama over out wedding and not signing the papers. (See the previous post here) It was unfortunate for Lisa and Tony because it seemed that numerous people thought, because Dad was gone, they had a right and a duty to step in where her father would have. I am sure Dad wouldn’t have tried to step in and sway his adult daughters decisions to fit in to his own box of morality, and I am POSITIVE that if he did have any concerns with any of her choices, he would not have waited until the weeks to before the wedding to voice them. Who does that?

I thought it was very fitting that Jon spoke to the half-assed spectators who may have come to the wedding. Jon opened the ceremony with a brief look at what makes a marriage and these words:

“I welcome you not as spectators or observers, but as participants in this ceremony. You are here because you believe that Tony and Lisa are right for each other; by your presence you are giving your approval and delight in their relationship. Your presence here tells Tony and Lisa that they are making the right choice, and that the difficult road of marriage is worth walking. So I thank you for coming.”

His words hopefully made people think about why they attend certain weddings at all. If a guest is in attendance, they are essentially saying they support the couple’s decision to marry and are willing to walk alongside them on their journey, assisting them however they are needed and able. Wedding guests are not invited just to watch, speculate and gossip about the order of the ceremony, what every one is wearing, the decorations or food, but they are invited to be a part of the couple’s community. For thousands of years, there was no registry to govern who was married and who was not. There is no judge to decide who was marriageable and who did not make a good match. It was and should be the community who witnesses the union who holds them accountable to their promises to each other. It is rather hypocritical to attend a wedding, eat the food that the couple has paid for and not be willing to participate freely in their wedding or lives. It would do these types of guests good to remember, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God…for God is love.”- 1 John 4:7b-8

Lisa and Tony added some beautiful touches to their wedding ceremony that I just loved. Amongst my favorites were when both mothers held and gave the rings to Jon at the start of the vows. It was lovely and fun. Both mothers have been widowed and I thought the symbolism of the act was both unique and organic. My most favorite moment of the ceremony was listening to the reading they had chosen to remember Dad. They used the closing prayer that Dad had said at our wedding, five years earlier. I could hear his voice in my head, with all his unique tones and inflections. I could remember and imagine him standing up there smiling. Here is his powerful call to God, from a Christian parent, on his child’s wedding day:

“Heavenly Father, we lift up (Tony and Lisa/Jon and Katie) to you, You have been listening. You have been hearing them make these promises to each other, these commitments. You know, better than they do, how difficult it will be for them to keep them. Father, we know that you know all that will happen to (Tony and Lisa/Jon and Katie). You know the beginning from the end. You know everything in between. And so, together this evening, we lift up (Tony and Lisa/Jon and Katie) to you. We ask you, Heavenly Father, that you remind them in the days ahead of the commitments they’ve made. We ask that you will strengthen them by the presents of your Holy Spirit. We ask, Heavenly Father, that each day you would remind them of the love that they need to exercise that day, that they’ve promised to exercise. And Father, on those days, those days that will come when they fail, remind them to be gracious to each other. Father we life this couple up to you. We ask you to bless them. We ask that they will always hold Your presence and Your blessing in their lives, no matter what trials or struggles may come. Bind them together. And then, use them to glorify Yourself in our world. Thank you, Heavenly Father. They need You. Thank you for wanting to help. We commit them to you, in the name of the Lord Jesus.” – Dad

The whole day worked out quite well. Although the wedding started a little late, like most weddings do, the scheduling was great. Livi’s schedule couldn’t have been more perfect for this day either. She woke up around 7:30 and had her bottle. We went for a swim in the pool, breakfast and then napped for nearly an hour and half before wedding. She had and early bottle during the ceremony (to keep her happy and quiet), then another hour nap as soon as we got back to the hotel, before the reception. This child is a dream! The trip home today went fabulously as well. We made the ferry we wanted, just barely though!

I’ll leave you with some pictures of our angel. Seriously, could she be any more adorable? I think I need more places for her to wear this dress before she outgrows it!


Views on the Ceremony

We are off to our fifth wedding of the summer this weekend. Lisa, Jon’s only sister, is getting married! She is marrying a really great guy named Tony. He seems to love and support her completely and is a good fit in to the family too. He scored best uncle points by picking a booger out of Livi’s nose on his own initiation and even with out a Kleenex! Yay Tony! Her other uncle’s responses would be to ignore it (Jon’s brothers), be totally repulsed by it and run screaming from the room, like a little girl, if I even thought about picking it without a Kleenex (my brother), or calling on her neglectful parents to wipe their child’s nose (Josh, Vanessa’s husband).

We are all very excited about the wedding… a little nervous too.  Jon is officiating! He has never officiated a wedding before but he claims that he is not really nervous. I am trying my hardest to not be either. When he tells me his inspiration for the sermon is Moulin Rouge, how can I not be though? I do have complete confidence in him though. He hates cliched, cheesy wedding ceremonies as much as I do, probably more, so I’m sure it won’t be either of those. He really is a very gifted and creative speaker, just like his dad. It is going to be awesome! Too bad Lisa and Tony probably won’t remember any of it 🙂

In thinking back to all the weddings I have been to this summer, and in my life, I’ve realized how amazing or how bad they can be. Most weddings are nice. Two people are publicly displaying their love for each other. Yay! But, most weddings also lack beauty. I don’t mean aesthetic beauty. It is relatively easy to add some color to things and make it look nice. I mean the kind of beauty that you get the honor of witnessing when two people thoughtfully make a commitment to each other that you are confident will hold true.

I tend to think that couples don’t consider the true depths of what a wedding symbolizes. I know most couples are young and blinded by love. They are only focusing on the excitement of a big party and, if they have religious values that call them to maintain abstinence until marriage, the wedding night! I truly wish that more couples would refocus their attention from the party side of a wedding and concentrate on the ceremony. I think a truly beautiful wedding has a thoughtful, symbolic, authentic ceremony.

In assisting in some way or another with a few weddings over the years, I have seen a blatant disregard for the ceremony. No thought is put in to it. In discussing a wedding ceremony with a mother of the groom I was told that “they (the couple) have more important things to worry about. The ceremony is the pastor’s responsibility.” Needless to say, I was shocked and slightly disgusted.

I understand that most people only get married once or twice and feel a little lost and overwhelmed in planning their weddings in the first place. Because of this, most people opt for some variation of a traditional ceremony and add a few niceties that represent their personalities and values. The sad part is, the only reason they opt for the traditional elements is because it’s what everyone else does. They don’t use these elements because they have thoughtfully considered the meaning and symbolism behind them. The ceremony is the important part people! It is where the commitment is made. Isn’t that what a wedding is all about? It is not something to hurry through or just get over with. It is the part of a wedding that should be combed through, word by word, symbol by symbol, to be molded in to a representation of the commitment you are proud to make.

I don’t want to sound like I am against tradition. I think tradition can be beautiful and even more symbolic than unique elements. Tradition holds so much history. There is something sacred in participating in something that millions of people have done for hundreds of years. Tradition can and should be thoughtful though. Why do we exchange rings? Why do we kiss at the end of our vows? Why do we choose to have a sermon or homily from the officiate?

I know I am very critical of wedding ceremonies… some might say too critical. That is only because I think they are so important and not given the attention that they deserve. I am also a strong woman, raised by a single mother, in a house filled with estrogen. Traditional wedding lingo is very patriarchal. Phrases like “Man and wife,” “Who gives this woman away?” and “Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Jon Bartel” offend me. It is essentially saying that the female is a possession, the male is of more importance and stature and gets to maintain his identity as a man while the females new identity is the man’s wife. She is no longer a female in her own rite. If a woman agrees with this way of thinking, than by all means go ahead with it. I think the real reason people use this lingo is because its the way it’s always been and they don’t think about it.

My personal preference is to see the couple holding hands during the ceremony. I don’t think this is a conscious choice not too. I think it probably wasn’t discussed previously, they are nervous, they want to hold hands but aren’t sure if they should, so it just ends up looking awkward. Do what you want! Hold hands!

I don’t like cheesy, cliched bad sermons. I realize this is inevitable. I’ve been spoiled by listening to Dad, Jon and too many intelligent professors. Why are so many pastors so abhorrently bad at speaking in public? I also hate going to a wedding where the sermon or homily is directed at the congregation. I went to a Netherlands Dutch Reformed wedding once where the pastor used the platform to preach an “evangelizing” hour long sermon about how the people who didn’t attend that church were going to burn in hell. Okay, I realize that is a very extreme example, but the principle holds true. In Christian ceremonies, we generally ask the person to officiate and marry us because we have a relationship with that person. He or she knows us and we want them to speak to us, not the community, and bless us in our ceremony.

I don’t think it is much of a secret that my biggest dislike in any religious wedding ceremony is the signing of the marriage certificate. It actually hurts me to see this in a religious wedding ceremony. I don’t know why so many people do it! If you want a spot to play special music, just play special music and stand there listening. You are always just standing there listening by the end anyway. I’m not saying don’t sign the papers. I’m saying don’t sign it as part of your religious ceremony. Non-religious wedding ceremonies are another topic. The legality for a non-religious ceremony is a priority. The point of a religious ceremony, though, is to publicly declare the commitment you are making to each other before God and your community of friends and family. Government papers have NOTHING to do with that commitment. Why taint a beautiful, spiritual ceremony with the involvement of a corrupt government?

Jon and I were very certain we did not want any part of the government in on our day and ended up going to a marriage commissioner a few months after our wedding ceremony. The only reason we signed the papers at all was because some family members had problems with us not being legally married and it was cheaper than doing a legal name change… and I really wanted my name changed. (My maiden name rhymed with my first name. Thanks mom!) The only time I have EVER used the legal marriage date has been on our taxes once a year. Because I don’t think of that date at all as my marriage date, I frequently forget about it and had to look it up for this years taxes! My best friend chose to sign the papers too but not in the ceremony. She did it right after the ceremony, in the back room, while all the guests were leaving the sanctuary. My sister signed them the day before, I think.

In a lot of parts of Europe they hold two separate ceremonies, a religious one and a legal one. Why don’t we do that? Why must Church and State be so intermingled in here? Separation of the two would fix the whole homosexual marriage problem too. If religious professionals would give up their rights to legally marry people and only preform religious ceremonies it would go a long way in ending the argument. Religious professionals would be under no legal duty to go against their beliefs or values. They would only be under their churches affiliations. The people that pay them would decide whether they would be expected to preform homosexual wedding ceremonies or not. Homosexual couples would be free to receive the same legal marriage rights as any heterosexual couple. I think this would fix a lot of the problems that both gay couples and religious professionals are facing.

I have been given the argument that, in the Bible, Jesus tells us to hold to the laws of this land as long as they don’t interfere with the laws of God. The laws of this land couldn’t care less if you signed the papers to make you legally wed at all, let alone on your wedding day. To live common-law has the EXACT same repercussions and rights as to be legally married. To all you boyfriends and girlfriends living together thinking you aren’t ready to make the marriage commitment yet… you are already as good as married in the eyes of the government. That further supports my point in that it is not the government that solidifies a marriage commitment. It can cost as little as $300 for a quick, legal divorce these days. It is very easy. (Yes, I looked it up) It is the contemplation and thoughtfulness that couples put in to their public declaration before God and their community that makes the commitment.

I think I’m done my little rant now. I do hope that it makes a few of you think and encourage any young nearly-married couples you know to put some extra thought in to their commitments. At the very least, I hope couples start to educate themselves as to the symbolism behind why we do things the way we do in wedding ceremonies and maybe add a few little unique touches. My favorite parts of weddings are always those unique, special touches that couples put energy in to thinking over and putting in to reality. That is when the true beauty in a wedding shines through.

What’s In a Name?

Welcome to my new blog!

Like I said in my old one, I needed to change the domain name because Bartel Baby Blog is only relevant for so long. My baby is fast becoming NOT a baby and with no new babies on the horizon I thought this domain address and name was a lot more fitting.

So, what was the inspiration for this blog name and domain? If you know me at all you’ll know that Becoming Human by Jean Vanier is my favorite non-fiction book. (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favorite fiction. I am in love with Mr. Darcy.) Becoming Human describes what Vanier has learned about humanity through living with people with intellectual disabilities, those who are deemed weak, different or inferior and excluded. Vanier explores the idea that through adopting an inclusive spirit we can reach true freedom. This book has spoken to me in ways that no other book has. It was because of this book that I was able to move past the anger I held towards my dad and feel compassion for him. I can’t recommend it enough. I hope to speak more about it and my experiences reading through it (again) in future blogs.

Good night for now and I’ll be writing again soon!

“To be free is to know who we are, with all that is beautiful, all the brokenness in us; it is to love our own values, to embrace them, and to develop them; it is to be anchored in a vision and a truth but also to be open to others and, so, to change.” – Jean Vanier

“We are simply human beings, enfolded in weakness and in hope” – Jean Vanier