Sunday, May 01, 2011

Prayer #163: Bells Should Ring



I can't get up at 6 a.m. for the gym, but I can for romance.

This past Friday found me in front of my TV as the sun rose, watching Will and Kate's royal wedding in rapt attention. Now, I am not one to pore over wedding magazines and obsess over celebrity events. But I am an overemotional ninny, and this event promised to deliver an emotional punch.

It didn't disappoint. From the shots of the earnest choir boys to the sweeping views of Westminster Abbey to Kate's muted 'Oh wow!' as she stepped out on the balcony, I was caught up in the spectacle and enthusiasm. And, I might add, unapologetically so.

You see, the royal wedding for many was an opportunity to say, "I don't care about a couple I don't know." "Didn't we fight a war so we wouldn't have to watch the British royals?" "There are bigger issues in the world we should focus on." I don't disagree with any of them. You don't have to. We did. There are.

What made me bristle about these statements, however, was their implied snub -- that somehow those of us who did want to watch a young couple take a big and important step in their were foolish, sentimental, or misguided. I was none of those things when it came to this wedding. Rather, I needed to cry happy tears with the world for once, after what feels like many, many months of sad or horrified outpourings.

That's why for me, the most emotional moments weren't of the couple at all. They came whenever the cameras cut to the throngs gathered throughout London, waving their flags and cheering. It looked remarkably like a lot of other footage we've seen recently, particularly in the Middle East, with thousands of people packed together in support of their country, but for very different -- and often violent -- reasons.

In contrast, the royal wedding supporters were peaceful, collected in a continuous joyful outburst. And at its heart was one of civilization's oldest, simplest customs: two people who love each other committing to build a life together in the eyes of God and a few billion others.

A few days before the wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave an exclusive interview to the BBC. (I encourage you to read/watch the whole thing -- really thoughtful and lovely reflection on marriage overall.) Of note, he says:
Prince William and Catherine are making this commitment very much in the public eye and they’re sensible, realistic young people. They know what the cost of that might be. [...] But I want to wish them especially the courage and clarity they’ll need to live out this big commitment in the full glare of the public eye – to live it out for the rest of us. I hope they’ll be given the strength and the persistence to go on showing the rest of us what’s possible for the whole of their life together.

Courage. Clarity. Strength. Persistence. What strong words for the world to hear in our trying times. We know the cost -- the cost of war, repression, rebellion, disaster, turmoil, fear. But do we know the cost of love? Of joy? And why don't we pay them on a equally grand scale, and more frequently?

The royal wedding reminded me that it's ok to celebrate amid chaos. Hell, I'd go so far to say we have a mandate to do so, because that's what God built us for. To love. To rejoice. Together.

So let the naysayers say, "Who cares?" I say, "I do." Because life is sad and hard enough on its own. But these aren't the attributes that win, now or in the end. That honor goes to faith, hope, and love.

I say that's worth getting up for at 6 a.m., don't you?

Prayer #163: Bells Should Ring

Extra kisses and damp cheeks. Tissues stuck in sleeves.

Fingers locked together. Arms draped across shoulders. Bare feet.

Spontaneous cheers. Too-loud laughter, punctuated with snorts.

Perfume lingering on well-worn clothes. Wafting aromas of hot food and guests.

"I love you," rich and round in our mouths. Easy to let slip.

Celebrations do not have to be orchestrated events or lavish spectacles. Joy and love are often messy -- muddy, grass-stained, sticky. And even when they come prettily packaged, the giddy heart they wrap tugs at the ribbon, eager to be indiscriminate.

Help us be this reckless with our love and brazen with our joy. Just as bells ring riot, not bothering with the hour, not knowing who hears what, when, so too should we fling our arms open to life's greatest mysteries and accept all comers. For now is no time to be stingy.

Amen.

2 comments:

  1. A lovely post, as always, Julia. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I didn't wake up to watch the entire thing, but the romantic in me oohed and aahed over her beautiful gown, sighed with delight when they kissed, and got the warm fuzzies seeing an entire country come out to celebrate a new chapter for two young people who clearly are in love above anything else.

    When so much disappointment, heartache, and violence is going on around us, we can all use a little joy and celebration.

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  2. I'm an ex-pat British writer and I got up at 5am! I can't believe I did and your post perfectly explains why.

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