Friday, March 6, 2009

One Wedding, Many Cultures

I received the call in the middle of the afternoon. A man's voice said, "My children want to be married. Can you help me?"

After some gentle questioning, I learned the following: his children were his daughter and his daughter's sweetheart. His daughter was Muslim, his future son-in-law was Christian. He had given his blessing to them both, because as he told me, "They are in love. They are good people. We are all good people. But nobody will marry them. We have the license."

I said to him, "I think I can help."

I talked to the father about what his family envisioned for a ceremony for the young woman and young man. They said it would be held at home, and then there would be a big dinner for everybody.

When I arrived, there was a blur of activity. The bride was told to stay in her room so that nobody would see her, but she kept opening the door and peeking out. The families of the bride and groom were still arranging flowers, and food was piled on plates in the kitchen -- ready for the celebration.

The father of the bride introduced me to the groom with the words, "This is my son, Mario."

We performed the wedding on the back patio, which had been decorated with potted plants and lights. About a half dozen very tiny little girls proceeded up the make-shift aisle ahead of the bride, sprinkling rose petals. Everywhere the couple walked after the wedding, a little girl in a very fancy dress proceeded with petals. The guests included Muslims, Christians of several denominations, and every neighbor within a block radius of the house.

Everybody cried, everybody cheered, and everybody ate and drank and celebrated. For several hours there was no recession going on, there was no talk of politics or war, and there was nothing at work but hope and happiness.

It was a wonderful afternoon. It was glimpse into how things could be.

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