out a finely detailed plan to whisk Kelly away to DC on the train, propose and then return home to share a meal with a bunch of folks who love them both.
His family came down from Pennsylvania; hers, from Cincinnati.
The most important thing went according to plan, with - apparently - some improvisation. What matters is this: He asked, and she said 'yes', and so they will marry.
The weather altered the timetable slightly; a tree fell on the train tracks, and so they were late. We ate without them; we visited without their presence.
I found it interesting, to see what happened. All these people - many of whom are bound together in community and familial relationships - were waiting. The atmosphere was festive, with candles and balloons and "KELLY AND ERIC" signs scattered around. There was a photo booth. There was a blessing, and a meal, and lively discussion...
...but no guests of honor.
In the end, it didn't matter; we all got along, found topics of conversation, enjoyed the food. But, truly, it did matter, and it was immediately obvious when Elijah stood up and said, "They've turned on to Mount Hermon Road" and excitement flowed through the room like a torrent of rushing water.
We were there for one reason.
The crowd gathered in anticipation, pointed toward the front door. We waited for the handle to turn.
When it did, we yelled. We were supposed to say, "Congratulations!!!", but we all just yelled, "Yaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!" and she buried her face in her hands and he hugged her tightly and there we were, to witness the beginning of the next step in a lifelong commitment.
Rachel took Kelly by the hand and led her to a "surprise"; her parents, hiding behind the rest of us. The family hugged and cried privately, and many of us cried, also; tears of joy and gladness. It was like witnessing the cracking open of love, stretching and yielding to include a new son, a new daughter, and whatever comes after. They made space for the future, in that moment of welcome, and it was fresh and new and private and wide open.
What a beautiful thing.
It's something, this life in community. I've said it before; I've never lived so long in any place as an adult, and the long tail of love that grows over the years of being grounded, being present, simply being here; it never ceases to amaze me. To see the sons and daughters of my friends become wonderful, capable adults; marry and have babies; move and shake the world in powerful ways - it is a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing.
Eric sat in my kitchen on more than one occasion, head bowed over a bowl of chili, talking about life and love and the future and God and work and everything else. I've heard him marvel at the touch of God, wonder at the promise before him, step tentatively to claim his future. I've prayed with him and prayed for him. Tonight, he walked through the door with the woman who will soon be his wife on his arm, and the deep, resonant joy of friendship triggered a cheer from every single person in the room.
We will walk with each other; and they'll know us, by our love.
Ironically, I have VIDEO of the happy couple - but not One. Single. Photograph. But here are shots of everybody else, as we waited...
|Brian and Susan, "with" the happy couple...|
|Chenoa, Jerimy and the happy couple's first "child".|
|When Teresa Farris makes your engagement cake, you know you've got it made...|
|Brian was concerned about being out too late, so he took a nap.|
|My son; my son-in-law.|
|A selfie. Like they did at the Oscars last year! But better!|
|Two of my favorites; I've watched these girls grow up. What a privilege...|
|Waiting for his parents to arrive...|