Monday, August 28, 2006

At the Reception

After the wedding, the reception. It features an Irish band, all friends of the couple, including some groomsmen. Irish bouzouki, uileann pipes, fiddle, tin whistle, guitar. They set up in a little courtyard outside the reception room. I listen for a while, then wander back inside. My radiant daughter and her husband (her husband!) are greeting the guests at each table.

The reception is at a posh banquet center north of Cincinnati. There are maybe half a dozen other wedding receptions going on at the same time in other rooms. The walls are thick and each area is far enough from the others to keep the sound from leaking through.

But you have to walk past the others to reach the restrooms. As I walk down the hallway, I have glimpses of other receptions, other lives: a darkened room with people dancing to "Rock Me like a Hurricane"; another with some kind of activity that looks like the Chicken Dance; another with some kind of ethnic music (Hispanic?) ...

After I visit the facilities, I step outside. The rain has held off all day and now it doesn't look like it will arrive before the weekend is over. Good. I take a breath of fresh air and think about the ceremony. It went off without a hitch, and I smile as I think about the two of them looking each other right in the eye and making promises as big as mountains.

I step back inside the banquet center. From now on, everything will be different. There is a tray of pink carnations in the hall, waiting for yet another reception. I steal one to give to my wife, and walk back past the other lives to the Irish music.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Wedding Toast

A recent conversation with my daughter:

ELIZABETH: Dad, you know you're offering a toast at the wedding reception. Have you thought about what you will say?

SELF: Indeed I have, Elizabeth. First I'll start with a joke, both witty and urbane, to put the audience at ease, and then I'll give a quotation — either from the classics or Scripture, I haven't decided. From there I'll go on to my experiences as a parent, its joys and trials, with some reflections on the contemporary assault on family values and the threats to marriage as an institution in America today. Then I'll talk about you, your growth as a person, placed in the context of the post-war emancipation of American womanhood. Then I'll segue to the emergence of your love from Brian, and his for you, with reference to Bergson's concept of emergent evolution. I intend to finish with a vivid evocation of the bright vision of God as portrayed in the last book of the Paradiso, and how all things, including marital bliss, find their true meaning in the context of that "eternal fountain," the "love that moves the sun and the other stars."

ELIZABETH: You've only got two minutes.

SELF: I'll cut it down a bit.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

One Book Meme

I see that Chris Brady has tagged me, and I owe him a follow-up. So here goes:

1. One book that changed your life:
Tough choice. I'll say Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis. Helped me out as a teenager when I really needed a rational approach to Christianity.

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
Heaps and heaps of them. Do I have to pick just one? I'll pick the most recent: Boswell's Life of Johnson.

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Let's see, something really long and involving, escapist, heavy ... War and Peace? I've started it more than once and never could finish it. The whole desert island experience would give the opportunity to make it all the way through.

4. One book that made you laugh:
David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing that I'll Never Do Again.

5. One book that made you cry:
Books don't make me cry; movies sometimes do.

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Secrets of a Long Successful Life, by Edward Cook

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Pet Sematary, by Stephen King. Still gives me nightmares 20 years later.

8. One book you’re currently reading:
I always have a lot going at once. I'll just mention Parliament of Souls, by Stephen R. L. Clark, one of my favorite philosophers.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
See #3.

10. Now tag five people:
Oh, geez. I don't even know five people. But I'll tag these and see what happens: PastorJeff. Locustyears, Brandon.