Celebrating a wedding and a birthday

by Rob Tiller

Sally and I went to Virginia Beach last weekend for the wedding of my niece Lauren. We were looking forward to seeing my siblings and their families, but there was also a slight feeling of dread. We were from a different tribe from most of this community, which is largely evangelical Christian Republican. We always wonder how we’ll deal with our deep differences, but we always finesse it. Despite our different political and other beliefs, there are a lot of things we have in common, and we focus on those.

I used to find weddings (except for mine) slightly strange, but as the years go by, I find them more and more moving. Young people bravely pressing into the unknown, full of hope and optimism, full of love. Lauren was a beautiful bride, and bouncing with excitement. Dustin, her betrothed, seemed sweet and committed. The ceremony contained various religious elements which meant nothing to me, but the uniting of these young people meant much. And afterwards, I loved seeing all their friends dancing and having fun.

After the wedding, my brother Paul took us out on the Chesapeake in his 30 foot power boat. I took the helm for an hour or so, and found that keeping on course in choppy water was more work than I thought. It was sufficiently rough that there was some seasickness, and we aborted the longer journey we’d planned. But we found a group of at least a dozen dolphins, and got close to watch them play. We also cruised through the inlets and looked at the impressive homes and boats, and had some wine.

Lauren’s wedding day was also my 56th birthday. I don’t like making a big production out of birthdays, and was happy to have something to celebrate other than getting older. But over the weekend, I found myself thinking about this milestone, and how different it was from what I would have imagined. From the vantage point of Lauren (23 years old), I’d have assumed this would be a time of painful decline. But far from it. I feel full of life, full of passion, full of curiosity. There are so many things that I’ve just begun! So much beauty! So many possibilities!