It was a June evening when my second son married. Chaos had been hood-winked by a Thursday evening wedding. The couple was to leave on a cruise the following Saturday morning, so a Thursday evening wedding it was.
Because the bride’s family lived out-of-town, she invited me to help. I gladly let her take the reins. How I enjoyed being invited along for the ride! She took me with her to the baker, the caterer – and anything else in between. As a mother-of-sons-only, this invitation was a beautiful blessing – a God-sees-me blessing.
The wedding was small, about 40, a family-only wedding, on a farm retired to host celebrations. A young couple, the husband with his cello, the wife with her violin played, their music wafting through the ceremony and celebration of this sweet young couple. Family came from the east coast, the west coast and in between.
Maybe it was because of the un-traditional weekday timing. Maybe because it wasn’t designed to be a blow-out. Maybe that’s why chaos was kept at bay that delightful June evening – when Spring still ruled, just-right coolness fell over the party, and fireflies attended, and evening let twilight linger gracefully: gentle breezes, gentle music and family at its best reaching out to meet each other, reaching to begin friendships.
I’m learning to stop inviting chaos into the daily – whether it’s a big event daily or a regular daily with all its dishes, dirty socks and Sadie needing a walk.
The boys had all outgrown the jackets, dress pants, shoes and starched shirts and had to be fitted for new ones. All of it had been organized down to the socks days before. No tuxedos, but how handsome they all looked in suits, jackets, ties and shiny shoes. No last-minute chaotic scrambles.
Home had been mowed, mulched, trimmed and arranged by four of the boys with a team-work camaraderie that was a seen moment born out of a “faith-is-the-substance-of-things-hoped-for,-the-evidence-of-things-not-seen” belief. Brothers in a brotherhood work best when they know they’re needed by each other. Being needed is to be seen.
I tempted chaos, though. The night before the wedding, I finished putting together bright-looking fabric banners for the Friday morning breakfast. The morning of the wedding, my mother used her special brand of magic to create white roses, pink roses and baby’s breath arrangements for dinner table-tops. My husband took the wedding poem I’d written, What are you Doing for the Rest of Your Life II accompanied by the art work my son’s mother-in-law-to-be had created . He delivered 50 copies by lunch time for each place setting. I was also prepping for the breakfast the day after the wedding: Blueberry French toast, Pigs in a Garden with country ham, biscuits, sausage gravy and chocolate gravy.
There was so much to think about, about 40 people to think about, and, not the least, were thoughts about my once little boy all grown up and marrying a sweet girl I’d prayed for since he was little.
There were so many people who needed to be seen – really seen, really met – because all who came loved part of this new whole – and love like that deserves to be seen and met.
I pulled the evening bag out of my top drawer, the one my mother had pulled out of her top drawer for my very first formal dance – because, I guess, every girl needs a handbag to go with a beautiful dress. She always made sure 10 cents were tucked away in the inside pocket in case of emergencies. It was a twenties-looking confection with silver beads and threads around and about a silver-beaded flower embroidered on white silk, lined with satin.
I pulled it out of my top drawer, and paused, thinking of my three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter who had a new baby sister. Weddings risk being stuffy affairs for little ones. They have to not spoil their dress clothes, keep quiet at the right times when they don’t even know what all the right times are yet, and this little one who gets all our attention when she comes to visit, risked not being seen. Since it was a small wedding and she was the first grandchild, she would be the only little one walking around – no playmates for the swing on the big oak tree. No playmates for impromptu tag when the grown-ups aren’t paying attention. Even in big events, like weddings, when all eyes are on the bride and groom – each person still needs to be seen to truly belong.
I carried the purse through the house, pulling a tiny, pink heart-shaped sucker from a vase I’d put sweets in for the next day. I wandered to my thinking room, where there’s a child’s table, a Mrs. Potts tea set and a mischief of tiny mice waiting for Ava to come play. Since it was going to be a grande occasion, I tucked the Prince and Princess Mouse into my purse, snapping it shut!
What little girl doesn’t want to carry around a sparkly purse filled with a prince and princess mouse. I could just envision it, the snapping open, the snapping close, and the little mice in-between all that elegant snapping. All was ready!
Maybe it’s just me, maybe sometimes you feel it, too – the little bit of Hagar within each of us who so needs to be seen by someone who loves us. Hagar only had God. God didn’t tell her that her life journey would be easy – but the relief she felt is palpable, relief that God saw her, the realization that she wasn’t alone. He was there, El Roi, the God who sees me – and sometimes the realization that He is the only one who sees us must be enough – for her – and you, and me.
“So she called Adonai who was speaking to her, “You are the God who sees me.” For she said, “Would I have gone here indeed looking for Him who looks after me?” (Genesis 16:13, Tree of Life Translation).
“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!” (Genesis 16:13, The Message)
Maybe that’s why it’s so important to reach beyond our inside circle, to reach outside our comfortable companions – and find the Hagars, the ones who don’t know God sees them, who feel invisible, who don’t have a comfortable inside place with someone who loves them. Sometimes we have to realize He sees us – because he stepped right in front of us – either literally, or through you or me, or in the Lord’s own mysterious way of making himself known when our words cannot.
When Ava saw me, she ran, hurtling her little self at me, wrapping her arms around my legs for a hug. I knelt down, and asked her if she’d take care of my purse for me during the ceremony and festivities, if she’d take care of what was inside.
Her face lit up and broke into a smile, her little fingers snapping open her Muddy’s purse, to find her two friends inside. She took care of it all evening, until it was time to leave for bedtime.
Chaos tried to find a way in to the wedding. The wrong cake was delivered. It was forgotten that Brooks and Junior, the two golden retrievers, were to walk down the aisle. A few little things here and there. But those things? They weren’t seen then. We didn’t realize about the cake and the dogs until the next day – and the next day, well, we laughed about chaos’ attempt to be seen at the wedding.
It was a day of good things seen – a couple saying their vows to God under an oak tree with a swing, family members seen laughing, telling stories, weaving their stories into ours, smiles and joy were seen, love, too – and a little girl snapping open and pulling out a prince and princess mouse from inside her Muddy’s purse.
“Therefore Yeshua answered them, “Amen, amen I tell you, the Son cannot do anything by Himself. He can do only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He does. He will show Him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed” (John 5:19-20, Tree of Life Translation).