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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

L & A

the kiss

(Photo credit to Kiana Grant Photography)

We’re back in the Jeep, heading home, six of us in close quarters. It’s two days past our wedding, Pike’s Peak still in our rearview mirror, when Felipe starts the conversation. Does the Bible tell us to do it like this? He’s talking about marriage and all the fanfare, and he’s wondering out loud if there’s a prescribed method for getting hitched. It’s an interesting question and for the first leg of our journey it’s all of us talking, discussing together the pros and cons of a formal weddings versus other options.

As our family heads east the newlyweds are touring south, hoping to honeymoon in warmer weather. Still thawing out, no doubt. Ali in her sleeveless gown, a fairytale princess in wedding day photos, snow like diamonds dusting her hair. But in the words of the bride’s father, the coldest day in a half-dozen years, and “No, it wasn’t the weather they’d dreamed” ­– my response in the comments of a Facebook post. They’d hoped for sun and mountain views, the forecast every day before and since, but maybe this is what you get when you marry a boy from Minnesota.

It was picture-perfect nonetheless. Breathtaking. The day after at brunch I told Elise about all the things I loved. Months of creating and planning alongside her daughter, and I wanted her to know I’d noticed. Yesterday at the chapel, those bridesmaids in their jewel-toned dresses, hand-made bouquets with assorted ribbons. Exquisite. The guys, too, in their hip J.Crew trousers and velveteen ties, shirts crisply ironed with special thanks to the groom’s dad, my husband. And Kiana said later, how those cotton-pod boutonnieres she’d helped Ali assemble months ago when she and Maisy had come out to visit, couldn’t have worked better. Every detail perfection. Little Gemma, with her one missing tooth and adorable glasses, passing out flowers as she walked down the aisle. Our own little Jack, ring “bear” bearing doughnuts on a silver platter, and we find out later Luke did this on purpose. A timely laugh so he won’t “ugly cry” when seconds later he sees his bride.

Later the wedding party would gather at tables lavish with wintergreens and jewel-toned vases filled with flowers, backdrop of endless windows, fading light on hazy mountains and fresh-fallen snow. Friends and brothers would give their speeches, and while mother and son slow-danced to Ben Rector’s More Like Love I’d tell Luke I thought Nils’ toast was the best by far, and knowing our bias, big brother agreed. The truth is, those speeches were like affirmation of vows made and promises given, and every witness knew without question, when Luke and Ali said “I DO” – they meant it. These two were meant for each other.

And then it’s two days later, all the aunts and uncles and cousins packing up ski gear and wedding attire and remnants of Christmas, families and friends with staggered departures making their way home. The borrowed trailer we pulled behind the Jeep is significantly lighter on the return, wedding gifts and assorted boxes left behind. For a few scary hours parents of the bride and groom did panic, thinking we’d lost the box of wedding cards, but last minute we found it, buried in our family’s clutter. Disaster averted. And I’m thanking God for this, along with all His other answers to prayer. Mike Howard’s bout with the stomach flu, and Kiana, too, the day before wedding, pastor and photographer, both from Des Moines. But by New Year’s Eve they’re good-to-go, or at least good enough to muscle through. By God’s grace.

Now it’s the second day of the new year and we’re heading east, Pike’s Peak fading in our rearview mirror, when Felipe starts this conversation. I listen a while, and I think and remember. Pastor Mike in his wedding message, talking about love. L & A. Luke & Ali. Living Ahava. The love of devotion.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. Song of Songs 8:7-8

Mike mentioned this, too. The love of Hesed, covenant love. God’s steadfast love, which can never be broken. And I wondered when I heard it, if he remembered, since he’s read it. These verses from the Song, the ones I used in my Covenant Story, on the opening page.

And I say it to Felipe, there in the Jeep. How THIS is surely the thing that matters. This seal. This vow. This fighting love of steadfast devotion.

To have and to hold, from this day forward, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

This marriage pledge between husband and wife.

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