Over the years as an officiate of wedding ceremonies, I have been part of Persian weddings, Pakistani weddings and Muslim/Christian weddings of all kinds. Here is the story of one of them:
In September 2011, I married a Pakistani Muslim groom and an Irish Catholic bride. They created much of the script themselves, careful to emphasize the similarities between their religions.
Halfway through the wedding I realized it was September 10th — the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11! Phew, when it hit me as I looked out at the bride’s side (Irish) and the groom’s side (Pakistani), I almost mentioned my realization — but the couple had not referred to it as part of their planning process so I had no right to bring it up.
After the wedding, the groom’s grandfather came up to me — he had traveled from Pakistan to be present. He asked if I had seen him listening intently during the ceremony. “Yes, sir, I did notice, you were very attentive at both the rehearsal and tonight,” I responded. “Well, you see, I have to be honest — I was listening for a sour note. It’s so difficult to avoid them when two religions are coming together. But I didn’t hear one, not one. Thank you.”
I immediately gave credit to his grandson and bride who wrote much of the script. He accepted that, then said: “I know, but you were the one saying the words, and I didn’t detect any hesitation on your part. I want you to know his mother and father and I would be very pleased if you would come and visit us in Pakistan.” WOW! I thanked him profusely, and said we could chat about it later.
What happened when I got into my car was a revelation. The valet handed me the keys, I drove to the exit of the parking lot and was sobbing too hard to drive. It suddenly hit me that on the eve of 9/11 ten years later, I had united two very different groups of people, Muslim and Catholic — and things had gone so well.
I looked back to Notebaert Museum parking lot where a dozen young men were standing around, smoking and chatting. They were the valet parkers.
I got out of my car and called them together. “Did you all notice the two very different groups of drivers tonight?” I asked them. “Yes,” they agreed. And with tears rolling down my face, I shared with them what had just occurred.
“Wow, that’s awesome! Thank you for telling us this!” I was finally able to drive home.
Another blessed wedding ceremony, another tiny change in the way the world creates itself!