Five years after Chrissy and I were wed my sister decided to celebrate our anniversary by getting married. As the event was in my honor (surly you know I am joking by now) she decided to give me a few moments during the wedding to give a speech. Here is the manuscript I wrote to celebrate their union.
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Often when we think about weddings we think of beautiful flowers and glorious colors, we see roses everywhere of pink and red and gold. And it is right for such an occasion to be marked by such overwhelming beauty. If we are lucky and blessed this is a once in a lifetime experience and is perhaps the pinnacle of human celebration and joy in all cultures in all places in the world, overshadowed only possibly by the birth of a child. Yes, such an occasion is rightly marked by such tokens of beauty.
In spite of this, the theme of this occasion is not a rose or a flower, but the spider plant; a common house plant who is not known for its flower. When we think of love we do not think of the spider plant, a rose perhaps, but not a spider plant. On valentines day we are willing to pay triple price for a bouquet of roses, but who would dare to offer a common houseplant to their beloved on such a day? And yet I dare to say that love has more in common with this humble plant than any rose, but not love as we often understand it.
I remember the first time I decided to buy flowers for my beloved. We had been married for three years at this point... don't judge me... and I went to the only place I had ever been where they sold flowers, Kroger. As I looked I diligently compared the beauty to price ratio and finally settled on the best flowers my man eyes could discern. I set the potted flowers next to me in the car and I brought them home with a sense of pride, for I had bought them for no reason in particular and I knew that all women are impressed with flowers. So I set them in the house and waited for the ladies to see them. The first to come home was my mother. “Oh, you bought flowers. Very nice.” She had that look in her eyes and tone in your voice that said, “it was nice that you tried.” Didn't she see that those are flowers. Perhaps I misread her. Next came my sister. After she took a look she said, “who bought these?” I identified myself. “Oh, they're nice.” In her eyes and tone I sensed, “you should have brought me with you, stupid boy.” I didn't know what went wrong. I decided to take a closer look. On further inspection I noticed that the flowers I had purchased were somewhat wilted. Not terribly, mind you, there was still plenty of nice color, but wilted none the less. To me it was still quite lovely, but to the eye that had been trained to discern the finer points of beauty these flowers were sadly lacking.
I think that is why many of us think of love as being something like a rose. Love, it is thought, is the highest, the most beautiful, of human sentiment. It is like that rare perfect rose that must be sought out among the thousands of lesser beauties. Love is perfect, glorious and hard to find and must be protected once it has been found. Yes, we think to ourselves, in so many ways love is like a perfect rose.
And yet the theme of this wedding is not a rose. It's a house plant.
Anyone who has cared for a spider plant knows it is anything but delicate. It can survive in most any soil, endure neglect, and is not easily crushed. It is not the most beautiful of plants but is rather common in appearance. And such is love, when it is true. Instead of being rare and delicate true love is tenacious and enduring. If we were truly loving people we would find love not the most rare of gifts, but the most common, expressing itself in both the mundane and the exquisite elements of life. To decorate your house with roses would cost you a fortune a thousand times over, but from a single spider plant can grow enough love to fill many houses.
We set roses up in beautiful vases and place them in the center of the room for all to see. And yet, like the spider plant, the true ways of love are exercised not in front of the entire world, but in the common everyday places of our experience. You might find love abiding, taking in the sun, above the kitchen sink as dishes are done without fanfare or glory. You might find love sitting on the shelf of an office watching the work day go by year after year after year. Yes, you might place a rose as the center piece of the kitchen table for a day or two, but love continues to sit on the on the mantle over the fireplace watching life go by, day by day. This is where we place our houseplants that stick it out with us through the springs and the winters, they are the last things we pack up and the first things we get out when we move to a new home. They may or may not bloom during their lifetime, but they continue to grow and multiply and give joy as the years roll on.
Oh miserable man who thinks he has found love when his heart delights in some new beauty. You think that because your heart sings and and the cares of the world fly away you have found true love. You have fallen to the deception, the false hopes of the rose. Don't you see that if you could find beauty in those things that are common, if you could find your joy in the spider plant you would carry it with you the rest of your life? Love does not need this exact soil, just the right amount of sun, and a perfect environment to bloom. No it fights its way to grow and endure despite any hardship. It does not bloom and then fade away but grows continually until it life is taken from it. Even though today we may appear with all the beauty and glory of the perfect rose before long all the petals will fall and we will find ourselves spending the rest of our lives with a houseplant. Will our love endure.
When I see a man like Jeremy working hard not just to hear the words of his woman but to understand them (Sometimes that's hard work, I know), I know that I have beheld love. When I hear my sister speak of her man with full confidence and adoration in his being, I know that I have beheld love. These words I have prepared today are not for them alone but for all who are here. You see, this wedding has a second theme as well. The reception area is decorated in a kind of enchanted forest theme. I find this compelling because fantasy stories have a way revealing the beauty of common things so that we can see them anew. For those who have ever read fantasy books with fairies, elves, dwarfs and hobbits (I know this is not everyone's cup of tea so allow me to explain) they always take place in a world free from ipods, machinery, computers, or cars. They are often set in the plains or in forests, albeit enchanted forests, and journeys are taken across mountains and water. Although these stories take us to another world, when we return we are suddenly reawakened to the beauty all around us, to the beauty found in common things like a steam, a forest, a plant. Suddenly these old things stir our imagination anew and they point to a higher world. If our eyes are able to see it every houseplant will speak to us the name of God and invite us into his presence. For in some ways heaven is like the fairy tales we hear, complete with all beauty and a happy ending. But as all fairy tales are difficult to believe God decided to make it easier for our hearts when he stepped through the pages of time into our own world as Christ was born in a common way two thousand years ago. In his life here on earth Christ pointed the way to the heavenly city and taught us how to make love more common among us. In his final days on earth he showed us the fullness of his love when he passed through death and came back to life to show us that, if we can believe it, he has a heavenly place for us as well. Yes, until the fantasy steps into our reality it is merely a story to us, just like any other story. But if we who have been touched by this love, and learned at feet of Jesus, if we can learn to love in common ways, in everyday places, we might just be able to inspire the imagination of others enough to begin to believe.
So I close with this blessing:
May your love will be like the spider plant, ever growing, never crushed, found in the everyday places of life. May your love inspire those around you to believe in the possibility, in the likelihood, of a higher love that is beyond our imagination.