Published August 2, 2007
It is just a few hours before my youngest niece’s wedding. I am in my sister’s house in Oklahoma City, where chaos is spreading like insistent wildfire, as last-minute preparations are underway.
There are too few shower stalls for the people who need them, and not enough mirrors. The bride and matron-of-honor are huddled in the main bathroom, experimenting with lipstick shades, while the youngest nephew chases the dog through the house.
“What can I do to help?” I ask my sister, the stressed-out mother of the bride. She has that glazed look in the eyes, which often strikes mothers who have been planning a wedding for months, and now realize they have three hours to go.
Much to my chagrin, she unearths a bag from the closet and hands me a thoroughly crumpled wedding veil.
“Would you iron it?” she asks.
“Of course!” I reply, while inside I am praying: Oh, Lord, let me not burn this garment, for it is the only veil my niece has—and there is no time to get another!
With trembling hands, I fill the iron with water and position the veil on the board. Frankly, I am not the world champion when it comes to ironing. In fact, I have been known to spend months avoiding the mountain of clothing growing ever higher by my own board at home.
As my heart pounds faster, I suddenly realize God is answering my prayers: I will not be alone in this endeavor.
My mother’s sister, who is 85 and my very last aunt in the world, is rising from the couch to rescue me.
“Move the iron side to side,” Aunt Rita advises, now standing by the board. “Put a cloth over the veil, so you won’t burn it,” adds Cousin Julie, her daughter.
The three of us now are huddled over the board, with advice streaming out as plentifully as steam. One pair of hands steadies the veil and another positions the cloth, and I’m sure we are all uttering various mental prayers.
And I suddenly realize: This scenario truly is what weddings are all about.
Relatives come from various parts of the globe to take up their posts. The women decorate tables, ice cakes and tie ribbons on endless bottles of liquid bubbles.
Meanwhile, the men haul the heavy stuff and make sure the kids don’t kill each other.
Weddings remind me of how much we need one another. No bride can stage a decent reception without help from others. She can’t pull up the back zipper on a long white dress unassisted—or calm her own pre-wedding jitters.
How telling that, in the Book of Genesis, after God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, he quickly created Eve to start the very first family. “It is not good for man to be alone,” God declared.
That first family had troubles, as all families do. Adam and Eve left the garden in shame—and one of their beloved sons killed the other. Right from the start, it was obvious:
Living in a family takes plenty of prayer and hard work.
As with ironing a veil, you have to work together and make compromises. Listen to the advice of the older folks as they steer your hands this way and that.
And when you get burned, as you surely will, you have to ask forgiveness.
Later that day, with family and friends looking on, my precious niece appears on the arm of her loving father. I can’t help but notice that the veil covering her face is all fluffed out and perfectly ironed.
And beneath that veil there is a shining smile.
I glance at my aunt and cousin, who are smiling too. Maybe, like me, they are remembering how we created our own small miracle of love earlier that day.
Like families since the beginning of time, we worked together to achieve something that would have been impossible alone. And what we did was much more than simply pressing creases from a garment.
We sent the bride into her new life veiled in love. And we dressed her in grace and prayers.
Lorraine is the author of three books, available on her Web site: www.lorrainevmurray.com. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.