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Posted Friday, November 9, 2012, at 3:26 PM

She had her heart set on the perfect wedding. It would be simple, yet elegant--a true celebration of the uniting of two hearts into one. She and her fiancÚ spent long hours talking about and dreaming of their day. Making her plans with care she asked her sisters to be her attendants. Even though they were far apart in age, they shared a special bond. Other friends agreed to fill the other functions and her young cousin and niece-to-be were to be the flower girl and ring bearer. She spent a great deal of time choosing the dresses--trying to reach the happy medium of her style yet reusable--the decor, foods, and setting. Everything seemed to be going along well.

The in-laws were convinced that the ring bearer would never cooperate. The child was only three and very shy. She knew in her heart that it would all work out. However, discussions often grew heated. They were convinced it would never happen. She knew it would and told them not to worry--the worst would be no ring bearer. Nothing she said could reassure her soon to be mother-in-law and it was creating strife.

Her room-mate/best college friend was never around anymore. She guessed that with the upcoming wedding their paths just weren't crossing. But more and more often she never saw her--even in the late night or early morning. She was concerned and called her friend at work--she was on break of course. A couple of days later she came home to find all her things packed in boxes or on the couch with a note from her roommate that since the lease was not hers anymore she wanted the bride-to-be out of the apartment before the wedding--oh and "here is the dress--I won't be at the wedding!"

What? Why? No matter how hard the bride-to-be tried her roommate would not talk, explain, or communicate in any way. Puzzled and hurt, she had to walk away.

One of her life-long friends (they had just always known each other) called to say she had gotten leave from work and would be able to come to the wedding. When asked, she gladly accepted the duties of the roommate. She even had a dress that would work and fit into the weddings colors. Though disappointed about her roommate, she was thankful for her best bud's stepping in and helping to heal the hole in her heart.

The rest of the plans for the wedding went smoothly. The rehearsal was short and painless. The dinner afterward was held at the groom's parents' home--cooked by his mother (without being burnt for a change) was relaxed and a good time for visiting between family members who had driven in from various states. Best of all was the time to sit and cuddle with the tiny ring bearer and flower girl. She held to her dream of the perfect wedding.

The day of the wedding came. They were all at the church. The final touches were made. The men's tuxedos had to be re-hemmed--the groom's pants were too long and one groomsman's was too short. They and other minor annoyances along the way were handled--someone always stepped in to take care of the problem.

Finally the service over, the reception behind them, the couple at their honeymoon destination, they discovered they had not eaten and were ravenous. They went in search of a restaurant--none were open. The small town had rolled up the sidewalks and gone home for the night. The best they could find was vending machines--cheese crackers, peanut butter crackers, chips, candy bars, and sodas had to serve as their meal. Not the wedding meal they had planned.

The seeds of disappointment were there. She grieved over the loss of her friend. He was irritated at wearing a tux AND it having to be fixed. Their meal was less than satisfying--why hadn't they stopped in the city to eat! The overly anxious grandparents painting doom when the child was just fine. There were imperfections and annoyances everywhere.

The seed of hope were there. They were starting their life together as husband and wife. Her lifelong best friend had gotten to come and be part of the wedding. The girls were perfect and stole the hearts of everyone who saw the little blond girls as ring bearer and flower girl. All of their families had been there with them to celebrate--even the grandfather who had just gotten out of the hospital the previous day.

As the years passed they nurtured the seeds that had been planted that day--seeds of hope; seeds of joy; seeds of love. There were other seeds--disappointment, a few of anger, some of frustration. However they carefully nurtured the seeds and weeded out the disappointments. They could have allowed both to grow, but they wanted to spend their life working together. So they carefully pulled the negative out--to be a faint memory, but no longer a part of their life.

Perhaps that is how we should deal with life. Things happen that are good, wonderful, exciting, fulfilling, and exactly what we hoped for and dreamed of being. Other things also happen that disappoint, confuse, enrage, and hurt us. No matter how hard we work, life just doesn't always turn out the way we want/expect. The seeds are all there within us--seeds of hope; seeds of despair. Sometimes we have to set our own wants and desires aside for the greater good. We tend to the seeds growing within us--nurturing, pruning, weeding, sowing; there is a balance to be found.

God, our Master Gardener, help us to nurture the seeds of hope, love, and servanthood within us. Help us to pull the seeds of hate, despair, disappointment. Show us how to see others as you do--through the eyes of love. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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