As one of the last songs finished playing at my cousins’ wedding, E & her three college roommates continued to share the moment. Someone explained to me that they had lived together for 4 years and now they would be separated by large distances – E left for Wyoming after the honeymoon, one roomie headed to Texas and another to NY, I believe. But watching them sway to their own music, I could see something special in their friendship. To a junior in high school anxiously awaiting college’s arrival, it became lodged in my memory and in my expectations of college.
By my junior year my expectations were met.
This weekend I had my own last-dance-of-the-wedding moment with my girls who had tickets to fly to the other side of the Rockies. Of course, they’ve been living in Tuscon and Washington for 5 years now. But this was the last time in the foreseeable future we’d be gathered together. Allison’s wedding was last on the lineup.
Besides celebrating the nuptials of a beautiful couple, spending this weekend and the days leading up to it with beloved friends made my heart sing. As we were stamping programs, mixing cake pops, or waiting to arrive at our next photographic destination side conversations erupted, picking up from where we last left off. If sitting next to Sarah J, you’d retell your birth story. If next to another unnamed brides-matron, you were introduced to the Spice it Up club. We took inappropriate pictures, eked on the groom for boob grabs and in general allowed ourselves to be our saucy, inappropriate selves. It’s refreshing to not constantly try hard to impress or explain, defend or deprecate yourself.
Before Al took her march down the aisle we took a moment, as custom dictates, to pray for and over her. These expressions of gratitude for the woman that sits in the center of the circle are more than a quick “thank you and God bless.” Though a holy bond is formed in the sanctuary, a holy moment of love between friends always precedes it.
At times I forget that my experience doesn’t speak for everyone, so as the big day progressed, the comments we heard began to surprise me more and more. The photographer expressed that of all the weddings she’d covered, none had a moment as touching as our time of prayer and celebration for the bride. And later another bridesmaid remarked how we, as a group, were so good to Al in complying with the details that made the day her own. We don’t just “put up” with such instruction, we encourage it.
To our group, it’s second nature. It’s love. Does it require us to think less of ourselves at times? For sure. Do challenges arise? All the time. But these women have made me a better wife because of the way they continue to love unconditionally and in the little things.
Years and miles separate us, but experiences and love keep us close. Though we trudge through the daily grind in our own element, each of us has yet to experience a major life change without one or 5 of the others convening in her presence.
Each of us have changed, some in significant ways, others in less notable. But it doesn’t seem to matter. Because a friend loves at all times. We didn’t start this journey loving one another because we were all the same; nor will we stop because someone doesn’t fit into the same box she used to. And I love that I see this side of friendship in the context of a wedding, because it’s true of a couple as well. Love isn’t conditional. You can’t stop loving because the person isn’t exactly the same as the journey started.
My friends, my beloveds, teach me this every time I’m around them. They show me what it looks like to care deeply, even for the seemingly insignificant and trivial elements of life. They illustrate that interest means asking questions, sharing experiences, being honest and withholding judgment.
Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.