15 Years Ago Today!! But this was written about two weeks after we said, “Yes.”
Reflections on Our Wedding– by Bill and Tara Scherer Haley
The Irish Celts had a word for those locations where God seems to be more easily seen. They called them ‘thin places’, where the veil between the visible and real yet invisible is virtually threadbare, where one can watch the reality of the Great Dance behind that veil. It seems there are times in life that this is the case as well, perhaps ‘thin moments’. The backyard of Tara’s parents, the Scherers, was, on July 2, 2000, a thin place. And that day held hours of thin moments.
From the rehearsal dinner surrounded by family and friends in the backyard on Saturday night, to church together on Sunday morning, to the mingling before the wedding and after, it was all glory. I truly don’t have the words for how gorgeous the reception was- candles and lanterns in the trees as sunlight faded, creating a wonderland while people dined surrounded by roses and hydrangea and the notes of a piano. The night was perfect. God smiled so much on all present that day and into the night, and I believe on all who wanted to be there.
The ceremony was very special, with the Spirit of God rustling through the tall treetops and speaking softly through the singing of the birds. It flew by for an hour and ten minutes, so much singing, so many prayers for us, for the city, our parents and for the world, a lot of Scripture, and amazing words from my sister Ruth and also my mentor Scott Gibson. People commented also on the uniqueness of the service. It felt like it lasted five minutes. Tara and I wanted our wedding day to be a celebration of God where people could see him clearly, an honoring and expression of our gratitude for our community and communities, an offering of beauty, a public statement of our commitments and convictions, and also our covenant to one another. And it was all that we could have hoped for and more. We wanted our wedding to be about community and God’s grace, and it became that in ways we could never have staged.
Let me share just one of the stories of this. It was of course an entirely outdoor wedding in the backyard. It had been a beautiful weekend, sunny, hot, and humid with an absolutely clear forecast. The wedding started at 6pm, but at 3pm when everything was set outside and gorgeous….the heavens opened and it downpoured in driving sheets of wind-driven rain. Tara and I watched, in white dress and dark suit, out the window, alone and in silence. Her mom, who had worked so hard to offer this beauty, came in and we said, “Bless the Lord” sincerely and with smiles and wet eyes. We had prayed that God would be glorified on this day, it mattered not how. Rain or shine, as long as he got the glory. So, bless the Lord.
The rain stopped at 3:30. Steam rose from the pavement and water dripped from the trees, and the sky was blue. Within two minutes (literally) the Scherer’s neighbors came from 3 directions and said, “Our dryers are ready…how can we help?” Within 15 minutes 15 people from Kairos who had driven 12 hours to be there showed up with towels and paper towels to wipe everything down. By 5 o’clock everything was dry…dry! And the sun shone! The wedding began right on time with “Amazing Grace” played by a lone bagpipe. Tara and I not only saw God in the bringing us together, we all saw him in the way our communities became our community, working together to enable worship together. At the end of the ceremony and reception, we drove off through the long driveway lit up with sparklers on all sides.
The wedding weekend was gift enough, but such as he is, God cannot help but keep on giving good gifts. Our honeymoon in the Pacific Northwest couldn’t have been better. I wrote this little piece after one of our days, God-kissed, like the rest. It’s called “Hunting the Orca”.
Coaxed into view, crouching like a cougar comfortable with an odd but now familiar scent and face, the Olympic Mountains greeted us ‘good morning’. The sun finally won the day. And Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, and the Cascade Range followed suit, revealing their hand full and flushed. Tara, my new bride, and I boarded a boat and put into the Puget Sound, across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the San Juan Islands. That alone was enough to satisfy our souls, but still our quarry was not the unmoving and seldom seen. We hunted a different prey, hidden not by mists and cloud but cloaked by the cold ocean depths, subject to the swimming of the salmon. Our hunt was for the killer whale. Whether or not we saw one was not the ultimate point, however, rather the taking of a trip together, a shared journey, travel as companions and finally more than companions. Our day was that, and all that, and more.
Marriage is at least that, a shared journey, but it is more- the pursuit of Beauty together, in that Beauty catching a glimpse of the face of God. Elizabeth Barret Browning wrote of nature’s revelation
God is so good, He wears a fold
of heaven and earth across His face-
Like secrets kept, for love, untold.
Ernesto Cardenal, the Trappist monk turned Third World priest, saw God in all things, and especially in nature. “A green leaf is a fragrant handkerchief that bears God’s initials in one corner, and He dropped it intentionally to remind us of Him.”
In whatever we see Him, wherever and however we find Him, unmoving and seemingly seldom seen, marriage, like the rest of life, is the pursuit of God. The difference in marriage is that a man and a woman sign up for the same call which is true for of all humanity- to seek God- but do it together. The pursuit is the same, but now the fellow pilgrim remains constant, forever.
That day Tara and I saw Him in the sun, in the waves, in the mountains, in the birds. His face is thinly veiled for those with eyes that hunt Him. Of course, the greater truth is that in marriage God reveals Himself constantly without us having to look further than our own bed. “If man,” obverves author Mike Mason, “is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being.” It is as though the marriage bed is strewn with green leaves monogrammed. “The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God then when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.” How much more then to be in the presence of one’s beloved. In her face I see the face of God. In her presence the hunt for God is brief.
By sunset we had seen them, the orca, eighteen killer whales in their black and white and breaching splendor. God’s face shone like the sun all day, illuminating all that His hands created. We joined Him, overlooking all creation, pronouncing it good. As we drifted off to sleep that night, we looked at one another, and agreed, it is all very good indeed.
So these wedding reflections end where our wedding ceremony begun:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Bill and Tara
July 18, 2000