Over the years, I collected words to represent special days. Resolutions signify a New Year, gifts denote birthdays, hearts for Valentines, flowers for Mother’s Day, books for Father’s Day, and music for Christmas. These day-word pairings are rather obvious, especially when reinforced by the seasonal advertising campaigns that have the power to seduce even the hardened penny-pincher.
Weddings, on the other hand, are extra, extra special. Whether formal or informal, weddings are uniquely personal for two people who have chosen a life together. Friends and family come to celebrate their joy, but the day belongs to the couple. The only word that reflects the magnitude of a wedding is “vow”, a solemn promise.
When my niece and her loved one, exchanged their vows, I saw others in the audience reciting the words under their breath, re-living their own vow-taking. I closed my eyes and remembered when, in my early 20’s, the words slipped easily, confidently from my lips: “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part…”
Now, many years later, I understand what these vows actually mean. Vows are easy when circumstances are “better, richer, and in health.” “Worse, poorer, and in sickness,” is a more difficult road, but it is doable. In fact, it is much more doable when there are two, rather than one, travelling the same road. There is exponential power when two people, who love and respect each other, combine ingenuity, resourcefulness and creativity.
Wedding vows sustain the other person during a shared lifetime. It is in the living, that the promise fulfilled.