I had my first (and only, as far as I can predict) Covid wedding this past weekend at St. Peter’s.
Just over twenty people … masks all around … social distance seating in the pews … and in the bridal party – the bride and groom were together, but the two attendants – the best man and maid of honor – were standing out at the corners of the communion rail. The liturgy was much the same … the music simpler … and the pomp and circumstance notched way down. But it was beautiful. The economy of the day’s proceedings, rather than detracting from the celebration, actually enhanced it. I honestly thought it was one of the most beautiful weddings I have had in a long time. The love and excitement of the bride and groom was palpable, and was not overshadowed by any of the usual trappings that are part of most wedding days in the 21st century. The people who were present were virtually all family members, and clearly had a deep investment in the bride and groom. I found myself smiling a lot, and feeling grateful for this little oasis of beauty and peace in the desert of anxiety that Covid-19 has brought to our lives.
Then I found myself asking the question inside my head, “Can this be the only oasis of beauty and grace in our current pandemic?” I knew the answer was “no” of course. I see more people biking, jogging and walking through my neighborhood than ever before. It adds a spirit of graceful purpose to our streets. I think that the majority of people in the grocery store are far more courteous than has been typical. It seems to come from the sense of relief that most things that we look for in the grocery store and in fact returning to the shelves. And most of the times that I go to a restaurant or deli or sandwich shop to pick up a meal to go, I marvel at the efforts made to create a safe and hygienic environment for the food I will ingest when I get back home. It feels like they “have my back.” Each of these experiences is also a bit of an oasis in a world that can feel out of control at times.
Sometimes I allow myself to wallow in a pool of malaise over so many things that have been lost to us, since that fateful weekend in March when the world as we knew it dramatically changed. But these moments of grace like my Saturday wedding, along with a host of other experiences that you and I are blessed to enjoy, help me recognize that the world is still beautiful and good … that God’s people are still choosing to be kind and respectful … and that a virus does not have the power to compromise the vitality of life as God has created it. Sin is present in the world – always has been since the dawn of time. But sin and brokenness can never overcome the essential goodness of the world, as long as God still walks among us in the people you meet every day, and God speaks to us and ministers to us through the children of God that are all around us. I invite you to put your disappointment … or cynicism … or anger … or fear on the shelf this week … and replace it with moments of grace and beauty and joy that God has still woven into our Covid world.