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Monday, June 28, 2010

Taking a Break: Brief Thoughts on Weddings, Families and Friends.

Starting last Thursday, I spent the 4 days away from all things imagine/Northampton. I don't do that very much. I don't take vacations as a rule, and since coming up this way, the task of planting has required virtually all of my time.

So these last few days have been an anomaly, I suppose.

The back story is we had two weddings to attend: Thursday was our niece's (the daughter of Tricia's brother, Steve), in Boston. Friday was a picnic in Beverly, MA for the newlyweds, their families and friends. Saturday we headed to Wickham Park in Manchester, CT for the wedding rehearsal and then rehearsal dinner in South Windsor. I was giving the Welcome, Invocation/Prayer, then Charge to the couple (young friends of ours who we'd done premarital counseling for, and hope to collaborate with in Northampton under imagine). Sunday was the wedding and Reception back at Wickham Park. All the events were lovely.

Now as some of you well know, Tricia and are are dyed-in-the-wool introverts, so gatherings of even people we know well and love much can be taxing. It can even be a bit awkward when you have not seen folks for a while. Awkward tends to be something introverts experience frequently in social settings. Awkward doesn't feel very good.

Regardless, I have a few thoughts from the last 4 days.

First, I am always reminded at weddings there is a complex mix of joyful beginnings and a bittersweet endings in play. A new filial relationship is created, melding two family histories into a new expression of them both; one which will carry the family lines forward in a unique way. On the other hand, old relationships change: the parent/child-brother/sister connection alters because a third person is brought into the dynamic. While most of the time, relatives are happy the new couple is joined, everyone knows the relationship has changed because the two have become one and must be related to accordingly. Sometimes that adjustment is just bittersweet and hard.

I'm also frequently reminded of family dynamics when extended family gathers for the celebration of a wedding. Because of personal history with one another, the time spent together can be a rich reunion of catching up, sharing memories and just enjoying the chance to be together again, even for a few hours. Or, sadly, being together can reopen old wounds and unsettled disputes which make even a few hours feel strained, or worse, re-fire into fresh conflict (liquor can  open that door). Family dynamics subtly assign people to fixed roles which are hard to break, and thus, make gatherings awkward for people hurt by such assignments.

Lastly, weddings are prime events for inviting friends to celebrate in support of the happy couple or just because they are together in a festive atmosphere. Because the mood is celebratory, friends seem all smiles and conviviality. Together they are sharing one of life's greatest celebrations especially for Jesus-followers. Friendship already healthy is only solidified on such occasions.

Even though I am an introvert, I do like experiencing wedding celebrations. I always feels uplifted after such an occasion. I usually begin them a bit on edge because I'm an introvert, but I often feel refreshed after a lovely time with friends and loved ones. However, no matter how pleasant it all was, I'm also exhausted and ready to go home with Tricia.

That's just the way it is.
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