We attended a wedding and reception, which always make me weepy and irritated, alternating.
Before I get started, I will note the high point of the reception. I had remembered that the bride and her sister were competitive Irish step dancers, but didn't connect that to the table of eight young women who just didn't look like Grove City, somehow. I'm not implying anything disapproving by that. They looked perfectly nice young women. About 45 minutes into the regular dancing, the floor was suddenly cleared, the music changed, and they exploded into a choreographed routine. Which looks rather different when it comes on you by surprise and the girls are either in gowns or look-at-me dresses. Much cheering and rhythmic clapping, everyone leaving their tables to circle the dance floor for this.
Hold that image, it connects to the serious part.
When I attend a wedding ceremony, I am always struck by the idea that this is grand re-enactment of all weddings, as if the weight of a thousand, a million, a billion village weddings is all focused again on this point. The bridegroom is all grooms, watching his almost-wife being ushered down to him. Those are two village mothers who have known each other since their own girlhood embracing as they give their most precious possession to each other. The groomsmen seem always the same mix - half of them nervous, half with just a few more years on them and calm, solid. All fade in contrast to the colorful maidens opposite.
This is every older sister, herself recently married, toasting the bride; this is every father dancing with his daughter. And we, we are the village. Odd to think so now, in an era when well over half the group traveled great distances to be here, but it is so nonetheless. For today, at least, we are a village. We participate in the great secular mystery of union which Our Lord took up and transformed into some impossible expression of sacred love and what our arriving to be with Him forever will be like. For the descriptions in the Revelation seem like nothing so much as a wedding reception. Dancing is not described (Baptists will be surprised, but they'll adjust pretty quickly. We'll all be surprised at something and adjust pretty quickly), but twenty-four elders with their own song, other groups singing songs of special appropriateness to them, unison casting down of crowns - it has a folk-dance appearance, if you can see it. Food and drink, and all described repeatedly as a wedding feast.
I didn't have any of this sense of universality when Jonathan and Heidi married, and am certain I had none of these thoughts when I married myself. That would be foolish and contradictory, that those at the point where the myth concentrates should back off from their duty, so to speak, and dilute themselves into the universal. As further sons marry, I doubt I will...well, I don't know, so I shouldn't say. Who knows what I will think. I'll get teary, but also laugh a lot. More than that I can't predict.
I must owe much of this to having been in Fiddler On The Roof. It's all Tzeitel's wedding. But that is in itself the explanation. We look at a Jewish wedding a hundred years ago and half a world away but we recognise everything about it. The customs are different, the clothes are different, the music is different, but none of that matters. Those are the accidents around the substance, in Aristotle's terms. "Sunrise, Sunset" used to be played frequently at receptions, though I haven't heard it for awhile. Yet a think another song from that show would be better. Except you can't dance to it, so it will never catch on.