What I knew at the beginning of the day was that I had been scared to death of not doing a good enough job. The bride was a photographer I respected, so were her parents. I was a peewee from Georgia, who liked taking pictures of mailboxes and frogs. And people – when I got up the courage. But what I didn’t know was that that ceremony would be blazed on my mind’s eye as clear as day, and many a time afterwards I’d visit that scene.
It was hot, early June of 2013, and my leg was falling asleep. I was crouching at the front of the rows of chairs under a canopy of trees. To my left, clearly in view, were the bride and groom. On the right, an elderly woman smiled at me from the front row. A few minutes earlier, she’d had a paper bag on her head, shielding her from the thick drops of warm falling rain. Grey, purple clouds rolled over the surrounding green fields, and threatened more rain, which came eventually. The joy this couple felt wasn’t about to be dampened by any shower or torrent of rain, though. I was photographing a wedding in Franklin, Tennessee, hoping I didn’t miss a shot, hoping I didn’t trip or have a sneezing fit or chew nervously on the gum I forgot to spit out. Just before the wedding party had emerged, the sun broke through in brilliant shafts of gold. It couldn’t have been planned more beautifully, and I felt like it was a gift God had tailored Himself for the occasion. The bride came down the aisle, took the groom’s hands and as they looked at each other, I was struck with the apparent joy and radiance of both of them…It is still bright in my mind. No hesitation. No fear. No questions. Just a full happiness. And this – this raw openness of love for each other seared away at my mind. I took in this whole scene…the birds singing high, the lush green surrounding us, the fragrance of warm, wet earth from summer rain. And the bride and groom…what was it about them? I felt they were truly looking through the eyes into the soul of the other. There was a confidence in knowing…they were Home. Home to each other. That this person was the One out of All the Other People On The Planet that they’d rather be with. Forever. And a comfortability of Being. I felt that, in a strange way, they saw not just the person standing there at that moment, but that they were looking at – and loving – every facet of that person they’d ever known – good and bad and present and past, silly, sweet, sad, moody, stressed, happy and Less Than Up to Par. I sensed, too, that Completeness which only comes when another person unlocks the Rest Of You. Unlocks the ability to function as you, and More Than You. The You that you Want to be, but need the courage or permission and strength to be. And the amazing thing was that there was no shock or hesitation from what they saw. Thoroughly, they saw, and they adored that person. It was visible. Unmistakeable. And it registered somewhere deep inside.
Later in June, I sat at the kitchen table of the Grey Submarine, a pencil suspended in my hand, while I dazed into space and looked, I suspect, perplexed. Mama glanced at me. Then emptied her armload of tasks onto the table, poured herself and me a cup of tea, and sat down.”What’cha thinkin’ about, darlin’?” It’s no use saying “Nothing” to the woman who, out of all women, knows you best. So I told her what I’d been afraid to say, even to myself. That what I’d seen that day in June had made itself unforgettable to me… That I wanted that for myself…Was that too much to ask? Was it…selfish? Was it unrealistic? I was in a relationship at the time, and while so much seemed good and right, there were still things I doubted – things I couldn’t even put a finger on – but that kept me from having a complete peace and calm with it. The reasons I could name seemed trivial and not worth giving up a whole relationship over. And I wrestled with the issue – push on? give up? But That Day in June…that couple…that Wholeness they exuded…I couldn’t shake it.
I was told, “Listen to your doubts. God allows us to have them for a reason. There’s a Third to your relationship, and in those moments when you think ‘mmm…something isn’t right,’ that is Him.” I ended the relationship and decided to hold out for what I’d seen in June. I’d wait for that soul-seeing person.
Well, now, almost a year later, here I was, sweeping my floor, while Daddy went to pick up “That fellow from Texas” at the airport. All week I’d felt perturbed. Why was he coming? From January to April we’d only messaged on Facebook, sent a couple of letters, had a couple of phone calls. All of this was surface based stuff. He’d never said he liked me. Never expressed a deep interest. Truth be told, it ruffled my feathers that he didn’t. (As if it wasn’t fair for the man not to know, when we’d not spent two whole days around each other!) Nevertheless, I, in turn, convinced myself I wasn’t so very interested…After all, there are other fish in the sea…(this was pure self defense in case he decided he didn’t like me after all). He’d written in a letter that, Nothing so well helps a person to get to know another than being face to face. He hoped in coming we could better know whether to pursue or leave off the relationship.