Unveiling young love: A trip back to cherished ceremony of hope

First of all, if you have any children under 21 years old, please keep them from reading today’s column.

First of all, if you have any children under 21 years old, please keep them from reading today’s column.

Incidentally, because I wrote that last sentence, I just gained thousands of teenage readers. Youth who have never read or even held a newspaper now are eagerly skimming this sentence in search of forbidden content. Oh well, I warned their parents. It’s not my fault you can’t control your kids.

So anyway, no one under 21 is allowed to read this essay. That includes the thousands of teenagers who are now reading it.

Sixteen years ago I married Jennifer, my sublime bride. On the day of our wedding we were both the ripe old age of 20 years young. I barely remember the wedding cake, the wedding flowers, the wedding dress, or even the wedding ceremony. However, I still vividly remember the feeling.

There was a fair amount of joy on our wedding day. It appeared others could sense our genuine love. Even the wedding cynics temporarily stayed their sarcastic weapons to make room for the possibility of beauty. For a moment, we gathered to celebrate the power of innocent devotion, God breathed desire, and the need to love and be loved.

It seemed as if the room was rooting for our success. Young love is a prophet whose voice we desperately want to trust. In the awkward groom, in the beaming bride, we see the potential of better tomorrows. We see the power of new beginnings.

Hope is imbedded in sacred unions. Maybe the future will be better, maybe the dissonant curses will be broken, maybe they’ll grow stronger together.

For a moment we see the possibility of a miracle. The two will become one and the one sacred union will be greater than the individual parts. A family will form and the love and life we see before us will grow. We pray for reality to capture these prayers and root them into existence.

No escaping rituals

I remember the feeling of my wedding day. I was far too selfish. The wedding accoutrements felt like compulsory distractions. Unable to avoid the well-established hurdles of culture, I was forced to engage the perfunctory wedding ritual obstacles. “Why can’t we just say ‘I do’, and run away!” Jennifer’s look said it all, “Because you’re marrying me!”

So we festooned the room with flowers and candelabras. Our friends, family and obligatory guests gathered. The piano ushered in our grandparents and parents, two very nervous candle lighters and a herd of a wedding party. Everyone stood for the main attraction as my Jenny entered the room accompanied by her gracious, yet reluctant, father. They walked the aisle with a familiar gate, first formed on long hikes through wildflower paths and alpine meadows.

Somehow that path led to the front of the sanctuary and the point of no return.

As Pastor Mark began the opening prayer, we securely were surrounded by a phalanx of tuxedoed groomsmen and excessively floral bridesmaids.

The ceremony was a blur. There is a wedding certificate on file proving I entered into the covenant of marriage on June 28, 1992. My wife also assures me that I participated in the event. Even so, It was all a blur … but I remember the feeling. It is in me, deep within my soul. It is a place I run to when I am soul weary, tired and confused.

Jennifer had it in her mind she wanted a veil to cover her face during the wedding ceremony. Her little girl imagination had set this plan into action long before she knew my name. As a result, my first glimpse of her wedding day beauty was through a meshed hue. Yet, as is the case with all veils, there came the moment of unveiling.

“Doug, you may kiss your bride.”

My beautiful bride … I will never veil my love for you. You are before me as hope, as life, as grace. You are a gift I did not earn. You are peace with a name. You are my Jennifer and I love you dearly.

I remember the feeling to this day. God is love … God is love … I see his love before me. Jenny, you and I were far too young to receive such a precious gift. Yet we did receive and I am forever grateful.

Doug Bursch is the pastor of Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.yesevergreen.org or evergreenlife@mac.com.