Published November 16, 2006
“Would you like to see the bride?”
I am standing with a group of my female relatives in a mansion in Oklahoma City, where my niece’s wedding is about to take place.
When the bridal consultant approaches us, there is no hesitation. Of course we want to see the bride!
And as we climb the highly polished steps of the stairway leading to the second floor, we see a room with a closed door and a sign attached: “Bride’s room.”
We have been working most of the afternoon—my sister Rosemary, Aunt Rita, cousin Julie and I—getting the reception area ready. We have been scattering rose petals on tables, placing flowers in vases and running ourselves a bit ragged.
Frankly, I am tired, and the wedding hasn’t even begun, and I also am somewhat nervous because I am scheduled to do a reading.
But then the door swings open and my fatigue and anxiety dissolve. There, standing before me, is the most radiant woman I have ever seen.
She is clothed in a circle of white frothy fabric, with a veil drifting from her hair like a halo. She is embraced with ribbons of light, which are streaming through the window, and smiling in a way I have never seen before.
Here she is, the bride, my niece, the baby I held in my arms 27 years ago, the little girl who trailed her big brother and sister around, thumb planted in mouth.
Here she is: the gawky teenager who came to visit me and couldn’t keep her eyes off the bag boys in the grocery store. The girl who went on to endure some heart-shattering romances.
She is aglow with joy, and I am transfixed. Is this the young woman who would call me on the phone in tears to tell me about the latest upset in her life?
The one to whom I often said: “You will be fine. You will get through this. God loves you, and so do I.”
I have heard of people who don’t believe in the Resurrection. They think it impossible that Jesus rose from the dead, and that one day, God willing, each of us will have a resurrected body in heaven.
But this is a taste of resurrection, this moment right now.
This is the butterfly emerging with tender wings from the cocoon. The shy spring flower pushing its head through the frozen ground of winter.
And as I stand here, beholding the bride, I can’t help but wonder: If I do make it to heaven, will I one day stand in a crowd of people, wondering what happens next?
And will someone walk up to me and whisper, “Would you like to see the Bridegroom?”
Then I imagine myself hurrying up the stairs, heart pounding. And wondering who will be there in the room that is marked “Bridegroom.”
I see the door swinging open, and there is Jesus, in His splendor, and He is smiling at me.
He knows all the times I fell down, all the times I doubted and all the times I called Him on the prayer phone.
All the times I waited to hear Him tell me: “You’ll be fine. You will get through this. I love you.”
I learned about Christ’s Resurrection when I was just a child, and I embraced the doctrine with the simple heart of innocence. Then, later as an adult, I took a spiritual detour, and declared myself too rational to believe in the Resurrection.
Today, on my niece’s wedding day, as I stand, transfixed, watching her smile at me as she adjusts her veil, I see the truth: God doesn’t expect us to believe anything that conflicts with reason, since he created us as rational creatures.
And all it takes to see that resurrection is real is to behold its echoes in our ordinary world.
For me, it is to recognize, in this moment, that it is Christ’s light encircling and illuminating my dear niece.
She is becoming someone else today, a beloved and cherished wife. She is not the girl she once was.
The old has fallen away, and the new has risen. This is resurrection, and it fills me with awe.
Artwork featured in the print version is by Jef Murray (www.jefmurray.com). Lorraine V. Murray also writes for The National Catholic Register and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her books are available at www.lorrainevmurray.com. Readers may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.