Friday, May 25, 2007

weddings and funerals

This is a photo of my roses last year. They are still growing in approximately the same place, and I've been busy lately, so I'm reusing. If you feel bored by this re-use from May 2006, please--look away now!!

Right, we've gotten that out of the way. It's Memorial Day weekend and we're going to two weddings. #1 is the wedding of one of the professor's research students. She is so beautifully physical that she's like a model; she's so beautiful inside that it shines right through her...a brillantly intelligent light to remind us that wonderful students (and people) still exist. We've known her-and she's worked with the professor- all four years of her undergraduate degree. The small town nature of this place is such that I think the professor's taught her fiance, too!

Then, we will fly away on airplanes to New York. The next wedding, on Monday, is the professor's little brother's wedding. Ben is not just a brother-in-law, but my web designer, foodie and business consultant, and friend. His beloved, Ilana, the Brooklyn lawyer who defends kids, always brings us dog toys and treats for the guys. She wants to learn to make jam. She's already a member of this family in so many ways. When we moved to Kentucky, Ben explored the place, walked through this rose-laden doorway to the second "room" in our back yard, and said, "Wow. You could have an amazing backyard wedding here. Or a great hammock." He promptly moved one of the plastic Adirondack chairs out there, and settled in.

How things change. Perhaps my harangue about cut flowers isn't right. I cut flowers from my yard, I sometimes even buy them. However, our wedding industry is an entirely different phenomenon. Relatively low-key, rational guys like Ben who like to wear Hawaiian shirts? Well, even this poor guy had a small tizzy over a problem with the wedding florist. It is amazing how this life event becomes such a production at a Long Island wedding hall! (no wonder why I got frustrated about cut flowers, talking to him) At this point, our poor chatan (groom) is getting nervous and clammy, and it's hard to blame him. In each daily conversation, we try to remind him--it's about being married, NOT getting married. He repeats it after us. It's going to be fine, guys. You're going to be married. That's the good part.

Now, with the funeral bit. Memorial Day in the USA? Time to open backyard pools, go to parades, have picnics, catch fireflies and oh...right-- remember all the folks in the military who've died...and to remember all the people, everywhere, who are dying unnecessarily for just a moment. I don't just mean the military who keep our country safe and democratic, although gosh knows we've lost enough young,valuable lives. I'm also thinking about Sudan, about civilians in Lebanese refugee camps who lost their lives or the many Iraqi civilians who've gotten killed in their country's chaos.

In Jewish tradition, when someone gets married, the couple steps on a glass and shatters it at the end of the wedding. It symbolizes many things...the sacred glass that symbolizes the union of the two people drank wine from it, or the fragility of life and marriage. Another of the symbols is that, even at this happiest of times, we remember the destruction of the first and second Temple in Jerusalem. Even in our happiest moments, we take time to remember sadness and destruction, to make it a part of who we are and what we care about. Modern Judaism isn't about Temple sacrifice or worship, but even so, we take time to remember what was lost long ago. We're celebrating life and weddings, but Memorial Day is about remembering those we've lost, too.


Blogger annmarie said...

The roses look so beautiful, it doesn't matter that it's last year's shot. So, you're coming to NYC? :)

May 25, 2007 at 4:59 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Just a brief trip to the Long Island wedding factory (ahem) and back by Tuesday. I think we're even flying into Islip! Believe me, the next time I make it into "the city" I'll try to see you!

May 25, 2007 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Sonya said...

Thank you for sharing. I have often wondered about the significance of stepping on the glass.

May 25, 2007 at 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for a beautifully written reminder of the meaning of Memorial Day. Good to remember all of the time, but especially this weekend. Karen

May 27, 2007 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger vanessa said...

thanks for a very thought provoking post.

i hope you had a fantastic time at both weddings!

May 29, 2007 at 5:37 AM  

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