In September of 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. Many of the points they made were powerful in a way I hadn’t thought of myself.
Halfway through their script at the wedding I realized it was September 10th — the eve of 9/11’s 10th anniversary! 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 felt I had no right to bring it up.
After the wedding, the groom’s grandfather came up to me — he and other family members 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 originated much of the script, and he accepted, then said: “I know, but you were the one saying the words, and I didn’t detect any hesitations 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 had to turn off the ignition. I was sobbing too hard to drive. It suddenly hit me that on the eve of 9/11, I had united two very different groups of people, Muslim and Catholic — and things had gone so well.
I looked back to the parking lot of the Notebaert Museum where the event was happening, and saw about a dozen young men dressed alike, standing around, smoking and chatting. They were the valet parkers — with time on their hands until later that night.
I got out of my car and called them together. “Did you all notice that there were 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!” was what many of them said, then a couple of them took my hands and said “Thank you for telling us about this!” I was finally able to drive home.
Another blessed wedding ceremony, another tiny change in the way the world creates itself!