Despite the title, this post is not directly, or at least not yet about the Mystery of Holy Communion. Instead it begins first with the mystery of communion that can only take place when other persons are about. For yet the third time in my family’s life, a child is soon to marry, though this time it is a manchild (to use the Biblical expression). On Sunday week my son will marry what can only be called a “childhood” sweetheart, particularly since they both seem like children to me still.
Our first child was married in 2003. Her wedding, by request, was celebrated by Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas. It took place at the large Greek Orthodox Church in nearby Knoxville. You might have to be a priest, or perhaps the wife of a priest, to appreciate that the wedding of your first daughter coinciding with the visit of an Archbishop (which included 2 ordinations on that Sunday morning) is not the stuff that makes for a perfectly calm day. Indeed the visit of an Archbishop can of itself bring jitters (even when the Archbishop is as delightful and warm as Vladyka). The service included my daughter’s college priest, the priest from the Greek Church, myself, a protodeacon, and, it seemed, a host of others. I recall the day was so full that it was not until bedtime that I sat with my older brother and drank a toast to my newlywed daughter (who is now Matushka Mary and lives in California).
My second daughter’s wedding, though absent the Archbishop, nevertheless included the priest who was the father of the groom (Antiochian) and the Greek Orthodox priest from their college who had shepherded them through OCF. It filled our little Church and overfilled our parish hall, spilling out into the yard where the toasts flowed and even included my 80 year-old mother dancing the “Dubke” with others (an Arab dance). The sight of her joy was a wonderful summation of the day (it was, like today, July 4). The daughter is now Khouria Kathryn and lives in Louisiana.
My son’s wedding (which will take place in S.C.) will be presided by my son-in-law’s (Antiochian) Father, in my daughter-in-law to-be’s home parish. There will be other priests in attendance, I expect. This is a young couple who met as young teens on Church retreats and Orthodox summer camps and has been carefully watched by any number of priests and counselors. This year simply surprises us all that the day they have always (it seems) discussed has come at last.
But the communion? The communion began this week with the arrival of my second daughter – who has her own magic – one that makes everyone in the house seem twice as present – probably because all of us are the joyful recipients of her own joy. The relatively solemn work of moving towards a wedding has been transformed in the last few days and I can feel the excitement in the household. It lifts my heart from brooding over my only son moving out from my roof.
Of course, all of this will only crescendo with the arrival of the two daughters who are away (the youngest in Governor’s School this summer, the other flying in from California). All of them can beam or stand in astonishment that their little brother (or big brother in one case) is entering the terribly adult realm of marriage.
But the communion? The communion comes in the wonderful interaction that only people who care for one another can give. We were created for such communion – for the joys of others to be the joys of our own. We were created to lift up our hearts at the sound of their voice and to rejoice when they rejoice – even as we weep when they weep.
Three years ago (as the story goes) when my second daughter was to be married, she pounced gleefully on her younger sister’s bed (a quiet sleepy bed it was, too) first thing in the morning with the greeting, “I’m getting married today!” And no one could resist the invitation to joy.
This is some small piece of heaven (at least in my home). And my meditation this week has been that my own joy only multiplies (it’s far to fast to say it grows) with each additional participant in the joy. The communion of joy is the Lord’s Cup of Rejoicing. He would serve it to us many more times than we are willing to partake.
And so I bring us around to the Lord’s Cup – the great communion of which every other marriage feast can be but a shadow. The bride (who is ourselves) should wake everyone on every occasion in which that marriage is celebrated, rejoicing, “I’m getting married today!” We phrase it a little differently:
Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ, who rose from the dead. Save us, who sing to Thee, Alleluia!
Thank you for letting me share a family joy – though it be but a shadow.