If I were to count all the weddings I’ve attended since college graduation, I’d ballpark today’s to be number 387. Though perhaps a harsh overestimation,  the year we did 13 (mostly crammed into July) did push us to our limits. It’s been a lot of Sherry’s baked chicken and stuffed shells with a chocolate fountain or two.

Of all these nuptial celebrations, I still enjoy the traditional liturgy (“with this ring, I thee wed…” and “let no man put asunder”). I’ve heard it enough that until this afternoon I would’ve felt confident reciting as if a monologue.

However, today’s service caught me off guard. I’m not sure if it was the extra man up front with the colorful robing or if I simply listened a tad better with no toddlers pulling on my dress. Perhaps Stephanie comes from a background that is more pacifist in nature – she did go to Ashland, you know.

Whatever the case may be, I heard no less than three times the charge for D & S to love one another so that the peace of God may bless their home. Now, though all of these are church-y enough words to be peppered throughout a service, the cause and effect nature of them – and then mostly the effect end – had me pause to reflect.

Wayne read that they were called to a “perfect love.” I was thrilled to hear that: we’re not called to perfection, or even a perfect marriage, only a perfect love. This type of lofty goal doesn’t immediately send me into doomed-for-failure mode, so it’s a starting block.

But the many times I heard “peace” this afternoon turned my wheels. What does a household established in peace even look like? Is it one of those places where you have to take off your shoes to enter the dining room, complete with dishes never used? Is it a garden with a little running water fountain to “reflect” in solitude? I hope not, because neither of these sound either exciting nor attainable.

Peace, if you ask me, lies not in the absence of conflict but in the ability to navigate through it with grace and love. I’d laugh in your face if you told me that contemplative reflection should encompass at least an hour of the day in my household – 2 under 2 just doesn’t make room for that. But I still believe that peace can rule it. I believe that in the stacks of books and in the toys strewn about comes opportunity to live peacefully. Sure, chaos might ensue when trying to leave the house before a predetermined time, but as moments in time are strung together, if done so with a bit of foresight and thoughtfulness, it can be worn as a necklace marking beauty amid struggle.

I’ve been in homes where, by entering, your blood pressure begins to rise and you find yourself envying the coats in the closet, hidden from the awkward, tense atmosphere. But I’ve also been welcomed into spaces that encourage you to kick back, take off your shoes and simply enjoy. Coincidentally, the second type of house typically offers the best conversation. 

So here’s to establishing the home in peace, rooted in love. Here’s to cutting out the words that reduce and belittle others. Here’s to having *enough* patience to listen and respond carefully. And here’s to loving and enjoying everything I have, not just what I wish would be.

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