Last night, strong winds buffeted the Hood River Valley. This signaled the end to a brutal hot spell. Fortunately, my wife and I had escaped to the higher elevations of central Oregon during the worst of the heat. We’d gone there to spend time with her family and to decompress following the wedding of our youngest son.
Two weeks ago, he married his long time sweetheart. Dozens of relatives on both sides traveled from afar to attend the wedding in our hometown. We hosted two dinners and a brunch. For seven straight days we entertained guests or were entertained by others. It was all great fun but we needed a vacation to recuperate.
Weddings are a rite of passage unlike any other because two people make the journey. Furthermore, it is usually conducted in public. In this particular instance, Ike and Nikki are the first children from their respective families to tie the knot. Consequently, their parents and siblings celebrated the passage with them.
We’ve lived in this community for 31 years. Attendance at the wedding included many of the young men and women who’ve experienced with us some of life’s other passages: elemental things like birth, coming of age, and death. One of the blessings of small towns lies in the continuity of connection. Over the years, we’ve watched these kids learn to walk, play, and take on adult responsibilities. Tears of joy, spawned by memories of these childhoods, welled in the eyes of numerous guests when Nikki and Ike took the floor for the first dance.
The minister, a family friend, made a point to recognize the parents and grandparents, tracing the lineage of the wedding couple. I much appreciated this tribute. Who experiences passages of children more acutely than parents?
The ritual of the marriage ceremony culminated with a kiss. However, it symbolized more than love for one another. With it, they left behind one status, single life, for another, married life. Their vows declared that regardless of what lies ahead they would face it together, as partners.
What looked like chaos during the rehearsal, flowed naturally from beginning to end on the day of the event. The outdoor wedding venue, with Mt. Adams to the north and Mt. Hood to the south, reflected the adventurous spirits of the bride and groom. After formal toasts from the Best Man and Maid of Honor, the youthful portion of the crowd partied hard until well after dark. A small contingent of designated drivers made certain everyone arrived home safely.
Meanwhile, our trip to central Oregon gave us pause to bask in the wedding’s afterglow. The blistering heat of Hood River had aggravated my neuropathy but I found the tonic I needed in breathing the mountain air. Now, back home, things are normal again: a breeze cools the valley, crickets chirp in the evening, and tomatoes ripen in my garden. So too, it is with Isaac and Nikki. Things are normal, yet nothing is the same.