I conducted a wedding last weekend, at the Deer Lodge, Lake Louise, for a cute, wonderful young couple. Michael, the groom, was insistent that the wedding be held outdoors on the grassy area beside the Hotel and roadway. His bride Shawna-Fay was a bit more flexible, willing to adjust to whatever the weather required of the event. At the rehearsal, outdoors, all went well. A few small droplets of rain fell as we choreographed the ceremony, practised the vows, and of course practised the kiss (I always insist on this at rehearsals, for good reasons). Of course a back up plan was necessary, had to be discussed. So we went inside and scoped out the gorgeous dining room area, almost perfectly designed for a wedding ceremony. As we parted company that night no decision had been made but I could tell the groom and his family were going to have it outside if at all possible.
The next day came, and as Miho and I arrived at Deer Lodge we could see the chairs all neatly arranged outside although the sky was overcast and our wipers were on. I had predicted they’d settle for the security and peace of mind of going indoors, but I was wrong. So we began the wedding under ominous clouds and no sooner had the bride finished her lengthy procession up to the rest of the bridal party, that rain began to fall, first lightly, then with more seriousness. The poor grandmother sitting in the front row was a trooper, bundled up in others’ cardigans, decorative scarves, and jackets. But the smile pasted on her face gave evidence of the discomfort and displeasure we all felt at being stuck in the rain.
Finally, with assertiveness rarely shown by this minister, I interrupted the soaked proceedings and asked the nervous couple if we could take 5 minutes break, then reconvene inside the lobby of Deer Lodge, gathered around a roaring fire place. They agreed, many laughed in pleasure at this decision, and any formality was lost (not necessarily a bad thing) as we piled into that lobby. After a few minutes I had corralled the lovely couple at the fireplace, and in a new atmosphere of disorder and disarray and failed plans, we carried on. Noticeably the bride and groom were much more relaxed, and more focused on the ceremony, it seemed, their eyes locked on each other more intently and lovingly than when outside, perhaps knowing this special and unexpected style of wedding would be remembered and talked about for a lifetime. It turned out to be a good, meaningful, and dry experience of joy and love.
Do you know what it’s like to have your plans changed, altered, even at the last minute, and it is good that it happened? It could happen on the level of daily routine, vacation plans, the organization of a wedding or anniversary, or even in terms of career. The unexpected. The unwanted detour that perhaps creates a life you never anticipated but would never now, in hindsight change.
Some of us are great with change, even last minute or monumental life change, others are not. Yet there is some degree of peace, it seems, in being prepared for, accepting of, the fact that virtually nothing in this life stays the same. I was exposed to this reality of life while studying Buddhism. My professor kept impressing upon us the fundamental Buddhist tenet of “impermanence”. Nothing stays the same, this theory, proposes, but a great amount of suffering in life stems from human beings’ inability to embrace this fact. Is that true for you?
“Going with the flow” is something I’m always working on and sometimes that “flow” may in fact be the way things are meant to be, perhaps even the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit of God, whom we believe is actually, lovingly involved in this world.
Many years ago, actually in seminary, I went to see a counsellor. There had been a lot of alcoholism in my family, both immediate and extended, and as a child of an alcoholic I had always struggled with a myriad of challenges, mostly in the area of relationships and trust. At that particular time I went to see Maggie for help. “Why are you here”? she asked. “I want more control in my life”, I said. “I’m afraid I’m not much on control”, Maggie kindly said, and we began a meaningful period of sessions in which we explored why the desire for control is reflective of other issues, which she could be of more assistance with. I’ve since learned, am still learning, that we actually control very little in this life. Things change, things are beyond our control. That’s life. Yet life, with such understanding, can be rich and full and wonderful, can it not?
Jesus said something about the subject of worry and our lack of control. I believe his words are quite calming, comforting. Look them up.
Sometimes the greatest gift in life are the unexpected alterations in our plans, the intrusive, perhaps unwanted situations that change our plans – thanks be to God! Are we open to life’s ficklensss, life’s joyous surprises, life uncontrollable, life-giving changes?
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
– Reinhold Niebuhr – prominent US Theologian