Things not meant to be moved
By JAMES STEPHEN BEHRENS
The bride arrived fashionably late for the wedding rehearsal. She did not apologize, and I had to keep my anger in check. I waited until she fluttered about saying her hellos and thank-yous to the wedding party, taking in all the oohs and ahhs for what she was wearing, how her hair and nails looked, was she nervous, where was the restaurant, and so on. Finally the group settled and I lined them up and told them that we would go through it once, just once, and that it was important for them to listen.
I also told them that I would tell them everything the next day and do so in such a way that they need not worry about forgetting anything. I assured them that the ritual was very simple and that it was important to keep it that way. Like life, like, yes, marriage, I added.
The groom was very quiet and smiled and nodded at what I was saying. He gave me the impression of hovering on the sidelines of the relationship, of the planning for the wedding, the rehearsal. I somehow identified with his orbit.
There is a custom at weddings for the bride to pray to the Blessed Mother after vows are exchanged. The bride goes over to a statue of Mary, kneels, says some prayers, gets photographed for posterity, absorbs the love that is being showered on her by all in the church, and then gets up and returns to the main aisle for that last big kiss and then the departure down the aisle.
In the rear of the church was a vestibule, and in that vestibule was a larger than life cement statue of the Blessed Mother. It was immoveable. It had been there for decades and had not been moved since the church was built.
The church had a modest and small statue of Mary in the front. That was the statue used for the prayer to Mary. The bride shook her head as she looked at it. That just wont do, she said. Theres that Mary statue in the back. That will do fine.
I told her that it would be odd to have her go all the way to the back of the church, out of view of the congregation. She stared at me blankly, like I was not getting it.
I want that in front, she said.
What in front? I asked.
Mary. I have a devotion to Mary and want that statue in the front.
It does not move.
Well, it got there somehow.
Probably a crane. It is not being moved.
Hon? she cooed to her husband-to-be.
He cleared his throat and rose to the gravity of the situation.
Father, we can move it. There are a lot of guys here.
I looked at him with pity and repeated, It is not being moved.
Hon, he said to his beloved, Hon, lets think of something else. Father said it cant be moved.
Beloved was not pleased. She pouted and said that I was unfair. I told her something about big cement statues being that way so that they cannot be moved. She reluctantly agreed to settle for what she obviously thought was less.
The wedding did take place, and she said her prayers in front of the little statue and then walked arm in arm down the aisle and into the world of married love and I hope into a life forever and ever filled with bliss.
But I wonder.
There are some things in life that are not meant to be moved. Big cement statues are in this category.
There is also the human heart. It is delicate and cannot be forced to move at ones whim. Let hearts be. Approach the nearest one and love it for what it is. Do not try to move it to where you would like -- to where it may not belong, not be able to go. Take it just as you find it, in that small, modest niche in that nearby person and trust that God himself is much at home there. No need to drag in the big production. God delights in the small and modest.
I hope that long-ago bride learned something from the little statue as she entered more deeply into human love. Love is indeed many movements -- most of which are orchestrated through the movement of your own heart so as to better see and love the heart of another. It is a movement that can be so modest as to seem still, as still as a bride kneeling before a small statue and letting go the larger one down the aisle.
Fr. James Behrens lives and writes in Covington, La.
National Catholic Reporter, May 24, 2002