A lot of folks these days write their own wedding vows. As a pastor, I used to encourage couples to if they wanted to; if I were still a pastor, I wouldn't. Those old fashioned vows are hard to beat: for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish... There's a lot of space between those words of extremes.
We were driving home last night after dinner with some friends and our middle girl was singing that Dixie Chicks song - wide open spaces/room to make a big mistake. The song specifically speaks of a young girl heading off from parents and the familiar to make her way. But as good country songs do, there's something there for everybody. Today, celebrating nineteen years of marriage, I think that line our daughter crooned is a pretty good one for husbands and wives.
I've officiated at a wedding that was decorated to the nines and Ken and Barbie didn't last a year. I've also stood before two giggly teenagers in a trailer park and spoke the words and crossed my fingers and last I heard, they were still giggling and married. My lord. Why did one fizz while the other still giggles? Best I can tell - Grace & space: the Grace that keeps this world & room to make mistakes both big and small. I've made more mistakes in my marriage than Washington D.C. has lonely people, but so far, by the Grace of God & Meredith, there has been space to make them.
That good Franciscan, Richard Rohr, says the only way men learn anything after about the age of 30 is by way of failure. Up to that age men need some wins/successes, but after that, success has nothing to teach; failure, however, does. I believe the same holds true for marriage. Some early days, maybe even years, of everything turning daisy is good and needed. But after a while, when the flower fades and the grass withereth, failure is the only teacher. And the question in those days, weeks, months, even years is, well, is there room for this? The vows fashioned of old say as much. Meredith and I are committed to wide open spaces; it's hard but most things worth anything are hard. I may end up one of these days in front of a trailerhome sitting in a lawn chair...I'll take it, as long as she's in other chair, giggling.
Some of you out there read books and such. My two favorite marriage books are Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and The Maytrees by Annie Dillard. They are books of great space...and amazing grace.
Meredith, I love you. And that statement about our doublewide was just for giggles...maybe...