I officiated my first COVID wedding yesterday. It was weird, with all the masks and clusters of seats spread out in a grassy field. But it was also wonderful, for all the reasons that weddings are always wonderful.
Life has been extra-challenging this year. Still, people are falling in love and getting married. Babies are being born (not to this particular couple, but to other friends). Toddlers are taking their first steps. People are celebrating graduations and retirements and other milestones. Because life goes on.
This wedding was particularly special for me because it involved a large rock standing in the middle of the Cuyahoga River. Not that the wedding took place there, or that this landmark known as Standing Rock was even invoked at any point throughout the wedding celebrations.
I just have a special memory of Nick and Kelly from about four years ago. We were together with some other student-leaders from our church, preparing for a new year of making disciples in the Quad at Kent State University. We were talking about leaving a legacy, making the most of the opportunities afforded to us. And to underscore the sanctity of the moment, several of us waded through the river and scaled Standing Rock (a sacred site, going back to the time when the Seneca Tribe inhabited the area).
Nick and Kelly were there (though Kelly chose to stay on shore). Our friends Tommy and Kairie were there, as well (Kairie also opting to stay on shore). And to round out the group, we were joined by our friend Delaney (later that year, she would start dating another guy named Jake who became an apprentice to Life Group leadership over the course of the school year).
I look back on that leadership team with great fondness. Our sense of community grew as the year progressed. And in many ways, that sense of community is still growing. In June of 2018, Tommy and Kairie got married, with that Standing Rock family in attendance, and I had the privilege of officiating their wedding ceremony.
In January of this year, our Standing Rock family was together again. And again I got to officiate the wedding ceremony for Jake and Delaney.
Finally, this week our Standing Rock family reconvened — for the first time since the COVID shut-down in March — and I got to officiate the wedding ceremony for Nick and Kelly.
It’s really amazing to see how life goes on. We’re not just wasting away during our periods of separation. Our Standing Rock family has stayed busy buying houses and caring for pets and starting careers and pledging to love each other for the rest of their days. I think that’s pretty special. Even if we have to wear masks for part of the time.