This weekend, I will officiate at a wedding. The bride is a young woman I’ve watched grow from infancy, so this is especially meaningful to me. Her mom is a dear friend.
So you can imagine that weddings, love and commitment have been on my mind.
Years ago in 2007, Bob and I attended a wedding for the son of other friends, Bill and Patty. Like us, they have three sons, and Mike is the oldest and the first to marry.
Patty, Mike’s mom, was responsible for organizing and preparing for both the wedding and the reception which took place at their church. Her love and care were evident in everything from the organist and wedding program to the reception in the church hall afterwards. Patty recruited friends and neighbors to help decorate the tables as well as prepare and serve the food and beverages for the buffet.
During the ceremony, as Bill and Patty watched their son repeat the age-old vow promising to love, honor, and cherish his new bride with his “I do!” I couldn’t help but think about how Patty and Bill first had to say, “I do” to Mike and his two brothers. For in giving birth, the most powerful creative act for many women, we are challenged to say, “I do,” to make the commitment to love, honor, and cherish our children, without reserve and often without reward.
Commitment is a scary thing whether it is to the children of our wombs or the children of our inspiration. Like our flesh and bones children, our creative children also need us to say, “I do.” If our songs, our paintings, or our novels are to have life, find a home, and grow into the fullness of their potential, we must commit to giving them our love and our respect without reserve – and often without reward.
The challenge, of course, is to keep saying, “I do” when we are tired, short-tempered, and frustrated. To continue to love and honor our efforts to create what has meaning, beauty, and significance even in the face of criticism or failure. Our creativity is sacred, whether it manifests in our children or in our creative work, and we are called to give it everything we have.
As we sat next to Patty’s sister waiting for the wedding ceremony to begin, she shared with me that Mike told her earlier, “Mom has always been there for me for 28 years.” Mike understood and appreciated the selfless, unstinting love his mother gave him, still hearing the echoes of her “I do” 28 years later.
Can you promise to love, honor, and cherish your creative work for better or for worse, in frustration and disappointment? Can you—and I—be as selfless in our creativity as Patty was in preparing that wedding for her son?
Can you say, “I do,” to your creativity?
After the ceremony, as the bride and groom made their way down the aisle greeting their guests, Mike hugged his mom fiercely to him, tears of relief and love and joy on both their faces.
And I would guess, for Patty that was reward enough!