While not for one moment disparaging an ongoing need for personal care in social and physical isolating, I will confess to having just enjoyed the best weekend ever! Our family has a tradition of going away together every year on the Queen’s Birthday weekend. And despite our venue having been booked some time ago (and paid for!), we did not think we would be able to keep up our family tradition in 2020.
But, Victoria lifted enough restrictions in the ‘nick of time’ for us to enjoy a wonderful weekend of being away together. So, in a large house in Victoria’s High Country, we spent the weekend basking in each other’s company. The grandchildren played together beautifully and best of all, we celebrated our youngest grandson’s first and youngest son’s birthdays too.
But first, I had a wedding to conduct. Yes, five weeks ago, friends from a former church had approached me to see if I was able, willing and prepared to conduct a wedding service for their daughter and her fiancé. Happy to agree, I remain in awe of this beautiful young couple, who in strange times such as living in isolation, had decided they just wanted to be together. It could have been really easy for them just to move in together, but these lovely young people wanted to begin married life together properly, with God’s blessing to be upon them in a Christian service of marriage.
So bi-passing the big party, they planned their special day, initially with an attendance of five people only (bride, groom, 2 witnesses and celebrant). Happily, by the time the big day came around, restrictions had lifted far enough for them to welcome up to 20 people.
So, on a clear, calm and beautifully sunny winter’s Friday afternoon and with 15 people present, this beautiful couple made their vows in a family-owned bush property at the edge of Melbourne. On such a glorious day and in such a beautiful place, I’m pretty sure that this wedding will remain the all-time favourite one I have been privileged to conduct. I think it has even overtaken my previous favourite; the simple backyard wedding I conducted a few years ago, of one of my playgroup mums…
As we drove up to the High Country that evening, I thought about many of the weddings I have conducted over the years. Every one has been special, and not the least reason being the people involved. At a Sri Lankan wedding, I thought I was in heaven, with all that glorious colour, sparkle and joy of the bridal party and 200+ guests. Traditional dancing and splendid food made the wedding of evangelical Greek friends utterly memorable.
Likewise, traditionally colourful dress, sumptuous food and colourful dancing made an Indian/Sikh wedding most memorable too. And if anyone knows how to party, it’s Scottish people, from a reception place in Melbourne to the village hall on a Hebridean island off the Scottish west coast. I am so thankful for these (and other) wonderful wedding experiences across many years of ministry.
Remembering all of these weddings, and wonderful as they were, I come back to the beauty and simplicity of the two smallest wedding ceremonies that I have been privileged to conduct; those which took place in backyards with just a handful of friends and family members. They both speak to me of what is really important in life, and that is the presence of nearest and dearest family and friends and of God’s blessing on the ceremony being at the heart of it all. Sharing simple food, such as a barbecue or picnic has made both occasions equally wonderful and memorable too.
Likewise, living in isolation has emphasized the importance of community and connecting with neighbours, family and friends more clearly than ever. For despite our regular ‘Face Time’ chats with families, not being physically together just doesn’t quite ‘cut it’. When restrictions began to lift and our doorbell rang unexpectedly early one evening, I stood at the door and cried as my husband and I were enfolded in the love and hugs of one of our family’s visit.
This spontaneous and lovely gesture of a surprise visit spoke to me again of God’s great gift to humankind of family and community. And of the blessing in setting up new family units in God-centred love and marriage. These are to be treasured, loved, cared for, protected and above all valued, wherever we are located and whatever the events of times in which we live may bring upon us.
Glynis Dickins has ministered in churches across the north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Living in isolation, she connects with family, friends and church on screen via Face Time and zoom. With her husband Richard, they are keeping fit by walking their ‘adolescent’ chocolate lab x pointer doggie Boomer multiple times a day.