The long-awaited wedding is now over and I suppose life will have to get back to normal. What a lovely day it was! The setting was beautiful, the threatened storms didn’t materialise, so the whole event from ceremony to waving the happy couple good-bye all took place in the open-air in the beautiful country setting of The Salvation Army’s Skangali Manor. The bride was lovely, the service simple and moving, and everyone seemed to enjoy being together in celebration. We even had Scottish country dancing, with instructions shouted by a Latvian-speaking Scotsman, and Erika’s sisters ensured that there were things to make us laugh as well.
Things I hadn’t seen before at a wedding? The bridegroom giving his bride her bouquet of flowers when she was ‘given away’ to him by her father; a guard of honour with everyone holding lit sparklers as the couple left the reception at the end of the evening; a Chinese lattern being lit and floating way out of sight; bubbles being blown on the happy couple rather than confetti; a lady ‘Master of Ceremonies’; a wedding cake made of fresh cream and hundreds of strawberries.
Things I had seen? A proud father walking his daughter down the aisle; a bridegroom’s face filled with awe and delight at the first sight of his bride; a white dress and a beautiful bride; the happy couple gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes; relatives and friends all dressed up; masses of fabulous food; and most importantly, promises made to God and to each other – the same promises made the world over in The Salvation Army;
One of the moments which impacted me in a special way during the day took me by surprise. Artur’s brother and mother took the floor during the entertainment towards the end of the evening. Out came the guitar and then Arturs’ mother spoke. I don’t know her at all, but was instantly drawn to her quiet natural dignity and beauty. She spoke to Arturs and Erika in Russian, her native tongue, and then she sang. It was a simple song presented in a rather understated way. Although her message was translated I can’t recall what she actually said or sang, but I could feel what she was saying and singing and was deeply moved by it. It were as if she were pouring out all her love for Arturs and her longing that his and Erika’s life would be all that they, and God, would want it to be. She seemed to be expressing that timeless quality of a mother’s love echoed through the centuries, and as she sang, I thought of the joyful song of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the passionate prayer of longing of Hannah, and of Rachel weeping over her child in Ramah. (Matthew2:18)
I couldn’t help but sense as she sang that I was experiencing the quality of God’s love – unconditional, and selfless. All I know is that, as she sang, the love she expressed connected in my spirit with God’s love for me and I felt His touch.
Arturs, Erika – go in peace, go in joy…….go in love….
PS There’s some pictures of the wedding in the Gallery, and also of the manor house we stayed in