Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent in July

The following is a post from my Desert Year blog, from the summer of 2009.  My husband and I and two of our children had ventured to the wedding of our next-door neighbors' son.  Our own Josh, in love with a Vietnamese-American girl, had died less than a year previous.  Nevertheless, we felt that we should attend this wedding; our children had all grown up together and spent many years running back and forth between the two back yards.  It turned out to be even harder than we  had anticipated, and we've turned down all wedding invitations that have come our way since this one.

I've been thinking (wondering) a lot about happiness and freedom and suffering and God, and when I came across this post today, it suddenly seemed very Lenten.


The wedding is much like one I had once imagined. Simple, elegant, a small crowd in a Catholic church. A quiet, self-possessed groom; family and friends here from Germany. A lovely and delicate bride; family and friends here from Korea.

The groom's grandmother approaches me at the reception. "I don't believe a word of it," she announces. "Ridiculous."

"Weddings?" I ask her. "You've given up on marriage?"

"No, no ~ weddings are fine. The religious stuff. It's absurd."

"Oh. I thought you were Catholic, too."

"Not me. None of that stuff for me. I can't believe that otherwise intelligent people buy into it." She squints up at me. "But I suppose you believe it, don't you?"

"Yes," I say.

"Does it help you; does it give you any comfort?"

"No," I say.

The real answer is actually much more complex. But this is a wedding reception.

"I don't know how you stand it," she says. "I suppose you have to."

I look at her and wonder if I am supposed to have some kind of answer. Some kind of satisfactory explanation of the universe. 
She has two daughters, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren. All well and happy. For the last two weeks, I have been watching her twin great-grandchildren, little towheads here from Germany for the month, playing in the back yard next door, where the groom and his sisters, one of them now the mother of the towheads, grew up. They look exactly like the little people who used to play in my yard. 
I don't think that I have any explanation of the universe, satisfactory or otherwise.

"I don't like the mushrooms and I don't like beef, so there's really nothing for me until dinner is served," she says. "I guess I'll get another drink."

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