Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Still loving conducting Humanist weddings

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

I still love conducting Humanist wedding ceremonies. Each one is different. Each couple is different. Every gathering of relatives and friends is different.

Ironically, it’s great when something goes wrong! Everyone relaxes and realizes the burden of it having to be ‘perfect’ is a myth. It’s always great once that first thing happens that puts people at their ease. A baby cries. A song goes wrong. A little ring bearer runs off with the rings. The parents can’t light a candle because the air conditioning keeps blowing the candles out. Someone has a fit of the giggles.

Once, at the very end of a ceremony, the bride was trying to say something to me but the music was loud and she was on the far side of a table and it was hard to catch what she was saying.

Eventually I heard her, ‘He didn’t kiss me!’

‘Stop the music!’ I cried. ‘The groom didn’t kiss the bride!’

And the music stopped and the audience watched and the groom kissed his bride and everyone cheered and clapped and roared with glee and the music resumed and the couple processed down the aisle and there was great merriment, excitement and fun.

And yes there was a little lad who blew out the candles and ran off with the wedding rings just before the exchange of rings. He was rugby tackled by his dad – well, OK, not rugby tackled – but brought back into the ceremony room, and the rings restored to the Best Man just in time.

And yes once a guest dropped the wedding rings early in a ceremony and they were a hair’s breadth from dropping down a gap between floor boards in an ancient stately home.

It’s great when the couple, especially the bride, relaxes and enjoys every moment; realizing that it isn’t about external things at all. It’s about living the moment, cherishing the important things, celebrating the love the couple share for each other and the commitment that they are making publicly to their partner. I think of the bride who decided, when I met her outside the chapel, that she’d be far more comfortable in her boots than her wedding shoes and decided to go up the aisle in the boots instead. She asked my view. I suggested comfort first. ‘I like your style,’ she said.

And once the bride is chilled out and relaxed and living the moment it’s much more likely that everyone else will enjoy themselves too.

Happily, I’ve encountered very, very, very few bridezillas! But, unlike the deities, they do exist – perhaps just one per hundred brides. You can spot them by the state of panic of the unfortunate groom, who might remove something beautiful a florist or decorator did because ‘she’ would see red. Or I’m told confidentially by the venue manager that they’re all on tenterhooks because of the unreasonable demands of the bride. Or the musicians might agree with a small last minute amendment I propose but they wouldn’t make the change because they’re terrified of Zilla, lest the improvement incur her displeasure. Or I spot something that I know won’t work for the ceremony, fix it and come back moments later only to see that someone playing watchman for the bride has changed it back to the way that I know won’t work.

The exceptions might make the good stories but the greatest stories are the ordinary, lovely, gorgeous, hopeful, committed couples who just want a personal ceremony that is about them and who want to show their families and friends their loving commitment to one another. They want to feel relaxed and they want their guests to enjoy their wedding. I think of all the couples that I have met, wonderful people, who have found love and hope and joy, and whose lives have joined together in a union of trust and encouraging mutual acceptance. And they want to celebrate that love by getting married.

Often they may have their children there and we include the children in the ceremony. Often the kids make the ceremony. We might have planned to stand for the vows but junior decides he’s crawling up on his mother’s lap and we adjust and do the vows sitting down. Or up come the kids to pour sand or tie ribbons or have candles lit for them.

I love my work – being with people at such important turning points in their lives.

It’s a wonderful life

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

I began watching ‘It’s a wonderful life’ each Christmas a few years ago. It gets to me every time. This year, I cried seven times during it – maybe because of recent high profile suicides. It’s a magnificent celebration of the wonder of life, to be grasped even in the midst of trials and terrors. Although an unbeliever – and possibly even more so on that account – the carefully crafted frame of the story, begun from the perspective of imagined celestial beings that look on us from an alternative viewpoint, and the opening line that the hero isn’t ‘sick’ but, ‘worse than that – he’s discouraged’ sets the tone and vantage point of the psycho-spiritual purpose of the movie: our need for hope against discouragement.
The person on the brink of suicide might find it difficult to bring to mind the positive things they have done in life, and yet that is the tack taken by the ‘angel’ who, charmingly, wants to earn his wings. And so, at the hero’s moment of despair, he is led to people and places familiar to him and he realized that he has not been all bad. Far from it. Yes, he shouted at his kids and crashed his car and money went missing from his workplace during his watch and yes he faced jail and public shaming yet, after his journey with his ‘guardian angel’ he realizes that that is not the sum total of his life. He has done good. And life is to be embraced and rejoiced in, even in the midst of trial and tribulation.
Today, the Meath Hunt gathered in Kells, county Meath, Ireland. It lashed rain but it was a magnificent event: colourful, powerful, energetic, exciting. Riders on their steeds quaffed hot mulled wine while their hounds got friendly with the crowd. I petted two fine hounds and then, after the bugle blew, I and my daughter headed off following them, along with scores of other cars. Kells was a vortex of excitement and smiles, as tourists and locals and horsey people and blow-ins like me savoured the atmosphere. And I felt just like George Bailey, hero of It’s a Wonderful Life, appreciating the moment and thrill of it all.
Before any of us were born, the world spun on its axis and the world knew nought of our non-existence. After our short span is done, the earth will go on spinning without us. Right now, we are alive! Life is wonderful. Relish it, savour it, live each moment to the full.

Gratitude

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I’ve written quite a bit before in various published columns in the print media about the ‘gratitude attitude’. Thankfulness is an attitude, an awareness, a way of looking at things. When we lose sight of the gratitude attitude, we tend to have lost our balance. This minute, right now, you and I have so very many things to be thankful for that, were we to enumerate even a tiny fraction of them, we would be here forever. People spend their lives wishing they could see yet not once today before now did I pause to be thankful for my eyesight. I myself spent many years longing for a home of¬† my own yet, before this second, not once today did I pause to consider how lucky I am to now live in a home that I love. For years of my life I longed to find a life partner, someone I loved and who loved me yet how easy it is for me to take my wonderful wife for granted. And then there’s breath¬† and a beating heart, the wonder of life, a wondrous thing and my one and only life, a heart beating that one day will stop, lungs that will cease to inhale and exhale, my life spent, yet not once before now did I, this day, become aware of, let alone thankful for, the transient gift of my life.

Let’s pause to be grateful for all that we have and all that we are. For those we love and who love us. For this moment. For literacy. For sight and light. For the Internet. Electricity. Our senses of hearing and touch, for taste, for the sense of smell. For colour, mobility, intelligence, consciousness. For sex and relationships, for our bodies. For music and books and art. For sport and passion and love. For time and healing. For serenity. For growth. For now. For all we are, all we have been and all we may yet be. For hope. For humanity. And again, for love.