11/20/1999 by Marjory Zoet Bankson, Church in the Forest, Pebble Beach, CA : Wedding Reflection
for Molly and Brett Crannell
Church in the Forest
Pebble Beach, California
November 20, 1999
by Marjory Zoet Bankson
- Scripture: Ruth 1:16
- Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge.
Your people will be my people and your God, my God.
Nearly forty years ago, this passage of scripture was read at our wedding when Peter and I were just starting out on the journey of marriage. I never dreamed that the pledge to “go where you go and stay where you stay” would be so demanding. I never imagined that the promise to adopt “your people as my people” would expand the circle of family so radically and I never thought that my intention to explore Peter’s understanding of God would grow into a lifetime work as it has. Indeed, this simple statement of Ruth to her mother-in-law, Naomi, changed me from the inside out—-and I hope it will be the beginning of a similar adventure story for the two of you.
You probably know that in our self-centered culture, marriage is a kind of madness! An irrational act! A vote of confidence for the future and a statement of faith in the unknown! You probably also know from watching your parents wrestle with their differences over the years that marriage will change you in the process. That is what I want to talk about just a bit.
Firstly, marriage requires courage and commitment.
It takes courage to go against the tide of self-centeredness in our culture. Like Ruth, you leave the known behind. Marriage means trusting the other to care about your needs and wants, your strengths and weaknesses. Marriage means that you are casting your lot with someone who is different from yourself, trusting that over time you will learn to dance with your differences and move to the music of something greater than each of you.
It takes courage to “go public” with your intention to make this a lifetime commitment when you see how often those promises fail among your friends and classmates. You have to know yourself as someone who is able to make and keep commitments-someone who is trustworthy, reliable and steady even when things aren’t going well. Marriage isn’t for the faint-hearted. It takes courage to make such a commitment in today’s transient and replaceable world.
Secondly, marriage requires toughness and tenacity.
We all know that love begins with tenderness, but we often forget that love also demands a certain toughness, a willingness to face our fears and grow beyond our expectations.
One of the gifts of being related to Molly is that I’ve known her for a very long time. I can tell you from experience that she’s both tough and tenacious. I remember her strong opinions about food and fun, even when she was a little girl.
Nevertheless, I also remember an incident that tells me she is able to face her fears and grow beyond them. When she was about three, I was visiting Barb and Bill. Molly was riding her tricycle outside when it began to thunder off in the mountains. Barb asked me if I’d be willing to sit on the front porch and talk so Molly could “touch base” with us —and overcome her fear of storms. By the end of the morning, she was excited but not scared anymore. That quality has continued to grow in Molly over the years and last summer she showed us her toughness and tenacity again as she trained to run a marathon on behalf of a young man with cancer. Now you are making a commitment to turn your tenacity toward marriage and making a home together.
Last year at this time, the Zoet family welcomed Brett for the Thanksgiving holiday at my mother’s in Bellingham, Washington. As plans for the day after began to develop, it appeared that the young people would be shopping in Vancouver while our generation would be clearing brush on the lot below Oma and Opa’s old house. Bill and Peter rented a chipper and a couple of chain saws and it wasn’t long before Brett and Derek were leaning toward chopping brush instead of shopping. In the end, all of us spent the day together, working hard — and when we were finished, there was a wonderful sense of accomplishment and hard-earned rest. In the process, we learned something about Brett’s toughness and tenacity, his willingness to pitch in and do what needed to be done. It’s a quality you both will come to value over the years.
Finally, marriage requires faith and forgiveness.
We all know that there will be times when you will disappoint or irritate each other. You may even betray each other-not because you are bad or evil, but because you are human. Without the faith that your marriage belongs to some larger purpose, it would be easy to “keep score” about the times when you give up your “right” to be right. However, if you believe that your marriage has a larger purpose, then there will be room for genuine forgiveness.
Peter and I have come to understand that marriage is not primarily for our comfort or convenience. It’s not even for happiness, though that’s often a by-product. Instead, we’ve discovered that, at the core, marriage is for spiritual growth, for stretching and growing in your ability to give without counting the cost. There is no other relationship that will test you so severely because nobody else will ever know you so well or so intimately. In marriage, you will see each other’s faults up close and you will have to choose again and again to believe there is a purpose in letting love into those places where you are tempted to keep score or hold a grudge.
If marriage really manifests the whole image of God, male and female, then marriage is the place where we send down roots into the mystery of life itself. In the end, it’s an act of faith, a special kind of insanity — an irrational act of love and commitment.
Since this is the beginning of Advent, the season of waiting and wonder symbolized by the coming of the Christ-child, I’d like to close with a short poem by Madelaine L’Engle that speaks of the miracle that marriage is:
This is the irrational season
when love blooms, bright and wild.
If Mary had been filled with reason,
there’d have been no room for the child.
Molly and Brett, as you trust this community of family and friends to walk with you, may your love continue to bloom bright and wild, to let the Christ-child be born out of your marriage.