I imagine there are a lot of different reasons to get married, but I would suppose most people choose their life partner because the chemistry works, and the connection they share is special. In my case, I chose Minion because he was exactly the opposite of everything I’d ever thought I wanted in a mate. I hadn’t seen that coming, but I’m glad I had the presence of mind to recognize it as right for both of us when I finally came across it.
Or rather, when he finally, gently, patiently helped me to see our relationship for what it had become, which I’m sure was more of a challenge because I didn’t have a healthy perspective on what love is before I become connected to Minion. Despite nine rejected marriage proposals, more fiery affairs, brief flings and one-time encounters than I will readily admit to, I’ve since come to figure I’d never experienced a healthy loving relationship until then. I was damaged, and most drawn to people with baggage, too.
I’d loved people who didn’t love me. I’d been loved by people I wasn’t in love with. It was all very one-sided and dysfunctional.
Even so, somehow, I never became jaded. I’ve always believed in the power of love. In fact, I’ve often referenced it as the most powerful force in the universe.
I believe love must be held in a functional perspective, though. I’ve rolled my eyes at overly sappy love songs, and people who mistake the giddy butterflies of infatuation or the fireworks of sensual passion with real love. I see that kind of fool’s folly masquerading as genuine to be false, fleeting, and a pointless waste of human interaction.
I don’t believe people fall into love, like some sort of freak accident that just happens to you outside of your control when you’re otherwise going about your normal life. But I don’t perceive love as an emotion... I believe it is a choice. I’d just never found someone to make that same choice about me as I’d made about them.
But I never despaired from the idea it was possible. It was something I longed for. The goal seemed to be to find the kind of damage that was the least incompatible with your own.
Love can be soft and tender and gentle and sweet, but it’s also strong and ferocious and zealous and tough. What I truly wanted in my heart, was to find someone for whom each of us were equally devoted, about whom each of us could say to the other, “No matter what happens, come hell or high water, it’s going to be you and me, babe, against the world.” The statement that sums up the sentiments: I will lay down my life for you... I will walk through fire for you.... I will go to hell and back for you... Nothing can separate me from my love for you.
I’d felt that way about lovers. I love hard, and I give everything. Or at least, I thought I had. But I had no idea how hard I could love or how much I could give, because no one I loved that way ever loved me like that. Until someone did. And then I finally said yes. I guess in my case, the 10th time is the charm.
Minion and I each wrote our own vows, but I wrote the entire ceremony, but for one small interjected address I set aside for the officiant to create on his own, within a few general guidelines. He is a preacher, after all, and as the family’s minister, he was performing the role for free... it seemed only fair to throw him a small bone of composition. But he was a great sport about it.
It wasn’t going to be anything resembling any sort of traditional service. That’s just not who we are. Our minister was willing to go along with most everything I threw at him, but he did take exception to one item we had to come to a meeting of the minds over.
For the call and answer section of our oath to each other — in which the officiant reads off the promise we are making to one another on the day of our wedding and forever, for us to repeat each portion back bit by bit, with our own and one another’s names inserted respectively — the traditional standard wedding oath verbiage is along the lines of:
“...to have and to hold, for better or for worse,
for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health,
’til death do us part.”
A variation of that portion did make it into the ceremony, but that’s not where I started. That wasn’t what I wanted to focus on saying to my lifemate. Instead, we each began:
“...I take you, today, to cherish always, the past we have shared,
to relish in every present moment with you,
and to eagerly seek out the future we will create together,
whatever it may bring...”
...and here, what I wanted to say was, “...come hell or high water.” It was really important to me to be able to make that statement in that moment, because for the first time in my life, it was true for both of us. But, our family’s minister couldn’t bring himself to say hell in that context, because that would be swearing in his book.
I thought of that as an odd position coming from a preacher, considering how one would generally expect most preachers to regularly communicate about hell and damnation and the wages of sin and whatnot. He was never the thundering fire and brimstone type, though. (If he was, he wouldn’t have been officiating our wedding.)
I made my case for what it meant to us, and why it mattered so much, asking if he didn’t think he could make an exception on this one word this one time. He countered with some potential alternative solutions we thought perhaps we could both agree on. Unfortunately, “H – E – double-hockey-sticks” just really doesn’t carry quite the same power. :-/
How about come rain or come shine? Really? Are we postal workers? Is our marriage a ball game???
His next suggestion, though, was even worse. He threw out an old Southern classic, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.” I think my first reaction to that was to just blink rapidly for a few moments, completely dumfounded.
When I recovered from the initial shock, I asked him what that even meant. Not because I didn’t know, but because I wanted him to take a step back and actually ponder what he’d just proposed. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you the specific origin of the colloquial phrase, but I’ve had a general impression about it since I was little.
When I was a preteen, my Mom checked out a Sissy Spacek movie from the library — which was exactly as exciting as you’d expect a Sissy Spacek movie watched with your Mom would be — about a rural slice of life and the human struggle of man against nature to save a family farm on a flood plain when the rising river threatened their livelihood. I don’t recall much of it, as either brain damage or selective memory has taken most of the plot from me, if there even was anything more to it than a bunch of folks coming together to fight torrential rains with sweat and buckets, in the hopes something would be left to call home when the clouds cleared and the dust settled. What I did take away as the moral I think the filmmakers were trying to make is... when your way of life is in jeopardy, be careful who you reach out to for help, but always maintain focus on your most cherished priorities in life, and never stop trying to save what’s most important to you.
That’s a nice enough life lesson about what happens when the floods come up, but the main point is, for country folks, any plans you might have made come to a screeching halt when the river rages. Everything stops. No one even considers a promise broken if the reason you couldn’t make it is due to the crisis of a natural disaster or “act of God.”
Growing up in Florida, having survived a handful of hurricanes, I’ve seen how folks can respond to these kinds of situations, so I can relate, to some degree. But Southerners throw the saying around as easily as “knock on wood,” though, and more or less to mean the same thing. Our minister is from Arkansas, so he probably tossed it into the ring without really giving it much thought, which is why I felt I had to call for the pause to reflect.
So... what you would have us promise to one another on our wedding day is, we will be devoted to each other, so long as the Lord allows, and there isn’t any major emergency to otherwise distract us. When I put it in that perspective for him, he had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of the thought compared to how I’d described the bonds of our love. He saw that, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” — meaning, “so long as circumstances permit” could not be any more diabolically opposite to a saying that conveys, “by any means necessary, no matter the circumstances.”
Then he told me a story of some painting he’d seen once where there was a tiny little one-room country church on the other side of a bridge over a small creek, and he always thought of that image whenever he heard the saying, wondering who would make it to church when the creek rises. I have no idea what that had to do with our wedding, but I was glad he was lighthearted about it, and we moved on from there. Which is just as well, as I really didn’t want to have to explain why my atheist husband would not be too happy with the inclusion of permission from any supreme being as a factor in his life decisions, whether about a marital companion, or anything else, for that matter.
In the end, we compromised with “come what may.” Not nearly as potent as I’d wanted, but it worked okay enough. Those words as a lyric had been prominently featured in that horrific Ewan McGregor-Nicole Kidman musical I think I’m the only person on the planet to absolutely loathe, but my husband had liked it, and it was a love story, if tragic and overblown, so I let it slide. Fortunately, four years and a two-year old later, our marriage hasn’t suffered any for it, but I figure we both know what we really meant. ;-)
LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 11B - Topic: IF THE CREEK DON'T RISE
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