Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wedding (and Worship) Gnats

I’m writing these words on June 10, the thirty-sixth anniversary of the wedding ceremony that marked the beginning of the marriage of Debra Kay Johnson and me, an occasion that reminds me of how blessed I am and of how gracious she is.

Many members of both of our families were present at the ceremony that took place at 4:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon in Debra’s home church, the Leary Baptist Church. Leary, as some of you know, is located about twenty-five miles southwest of Albany, and is thus embedded deep among the peanut fields of southwest Georgia.

It is also well below the gnat line. Our wedding being a June South Georgia wedding, the gnats were uninvited but not unexpected guests.
I mention that fact because while all of my family members who attended the wedding lived in Georgia, they lived above the gnat line. (For the inexperienced and uninformed, the gnat line runs more or less from Columbus in the west to Savannah in the east; the part of Georgia above that line is sparsely populated with gnats, that part below the line is densely populated with them. I don’t how they know where the line is.) Now, thirty-six years later, if the subject of our wedding ever comes up in a conversation with some members of my family, I still hear “I will never forget those gnats!” One of my aunts, the first time I saw her after the wedding, didn’t say “What a nice ceremony!” or “I hope you will be so happy!”; no, she said, “I couldn’t believe those gnats!” “But it was a nice ceremony,” I responded. “I wouldn’t know,” she said, “all I remember is those gnats!”

It was, in fact, a very nice ceremony. It’s too bad that so many of my folks can’t remember it because all they could pay attention to was the gnats.

The funny thing is that I didn’t notice a single gnat that day and have no memory of any gnats being present in the sanctuary. And while I had spent some time below the gnat line since I started going home with Debra, I certainly wasn’t a native and had not become acclimated to the little pests. It’s hard to believe that the gnats were just polite and so chose not to bother the bride and groom.

The difference in my experience and that of my family members, I think, was that I had more invested in the ceremony than they did and, being so invested, I noticed nothing other than the experience of marrying Debra. I’m not sure I would have noticed if the roof had caved in. I was there to marry Debra and nothing was going to distract me from that experience.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here about the ways in which we do or don’t experience God when we come to a worship service and about the ways in which we are or aren’t distracted by whatever little irritants circumstances or people or life send to visit us …

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great point. Something I hope I'll keep in mind when my wedding day comes as well!