Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Going to the Chapel of "I Will!"

A Saturday morning a few weeks back I had traveled south to a place known for its sunshine, and good times --- Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Okay, really the “shine” is the same felt the two hours north were I truly live and the good times are presented from the reputation that succeeds itself – college town USA. However, on that Saturday morning I was not nursing a hangover from a frat party or gearing up for a day out doors. I was standing in front of a mirror, in my comfy camisole, with my fourth cup of morning coffee in one hand - two more than usual, but I was running on less than four hours of sporadic sleep – and a wrinkled mess of four pages in the other. What was on the pages? A wedding ceremony I had written. Why was I in front of the mirror with bloodshot eyes at eight in the **** morning? Practicing. And what exactly was I practicing? Performing what I was about to deliver – the historic ceremony of joining two people together as husband and wife.

Rewind to the beginning of fall last year. I had been asked by my very dear friend and work colleague of mine, Tiffany, to perform her wedding.

“You’re crazy!” I stammered about twenty times in response. I was certain she was kidding and at any time the “Punk'd” camera crew was going to parade through the office … which was fine by me, I was having an incredible hair day!

“No, I am serious. Matt and I discussed this. Thoroughly. We want you Kohler. We want your heart, your inspiration, your words.”

I put her off for weeks. Almost daily I would get an email from her asking if a verdict had been reached. Persistent little thing she is … She has this way of making you feel like you are a ray of light and she needs to soak up the sunshine. I meditated on her question. And just when I thought I would regrettably have to answer no, something intrigued me to hit the reply button on a Friday afternoon in September …

“Let’s say I did accept your request to have me marry you two lovebirds … what would I have to wear? How long do I have to speak?”

Yeah, those were the two plaguing questions in my mind – the attire (always the fashioniesta I am …) and what to say (public speaking, despite what you might have heard, is NOT my strong suit).

“You can wear whatever you want! Our colors are black and white and you could coordinate maybe. Skirt, dress, suit, whatever! Picture this … It’s a beautiful Saturday evening in late June. You’re standing next to a pretty lake as the sun sets across it. You have an alter laced in greenery above you and Matt standing by your side, patiently waiting for his soon to be bride. You have about 100 people in front of you in white chairs along the grass facing the lake. The wedding party starts to enter. Then you see me in my dress and you become anxious to be the one to join to wonderful people in holy matrimony. You get to tell the crowd about how you know the couple, and the great things you know will come from their union. I start to cry, my mom, the bridesmaids, everyone! They cry because your words are so beautiful. Then you ask us to kiss and we walk away and the spotlight is off of you. You stay for the reception – there is drinking, dancing, celebrating, and you will remember it for the rest of your life as I will. See – isn’t it lovely??!”

She’s good. She had me at “you can wear whatever you want”, wooed me with drinking and dancing, and sealed the deal with “remember it for the rest of your life”.

That Saturday, after my fifth walk through of the ceremony that morning, I decided to try and relax. The hotel suite came with a whirlpool Jacuzzi tub and who was I to deny its purpose to be used? So I cranked up the playlist on the laptop, grabbed my sixth cup of coffee, and slipped into a mountain of bubbles. Singing, dancing – the thoughts of the day seemed distant. Halfway through my own personal rendition of “Son of a Preacher Man” I suddenly became silent. In a few short hours I was about to join two people together for the rest of their lives. That is when panic set in. When I accepted, despite my humor, I did so for the reason that if two people thought that much about me, to honor me in such a way as to be the one to marry them, who was I to deny their request? I was honored and elated – I was humbled and overjoyed. And now here I was hesitant – I did not want to mess up, I wanted to deliver to them the day they had dreamed about. The day they deserved. These were two people I love and adored, and I was uniting them as one - not the best time to be hit with reality ... I sunk into the water with only my nose left exposed to the open air. Breathe Chrissy, just breathe – you can do this …

That evening, in my gorgeous black and lime green dress, I stood in front of 100 people yes, but most importantly, I stood in front of two. The groom with his breath taken away by the radiance the bride exuded. The bride, true to her word, showed tears beginning to appear on her face. I took in the moment. My heart skipped with emotion at an altitude of delight. I spoke to them about love, and marriage:

Today marks the beginning to your future as one, and as you join together, take light of your day. Your commitment to each other is one that is made for a lifetime, a testament to find and bring out the best in each other. Marriage offers the opportunity to share and grow, to thrive and develop, to bring forth and enlighten. Within this circle of commitment, you will be each other’s confidant, lover, teacher, listener, supporter, and most importantly, best friend.
There may come a time when you will need to be each other’s critic – be wise and constructive in the advice you give. There may come a time when one of you will be heartbroken – be warm and gentle in the embrace you offer. There may come a time when one of you will make a mistake – be patient and open-minded in the kindness of forgiveness.
Within your life you will find endless amounts of happiness – it will be richer because of your marriage to each other. Your memories will be more vivid, your commitment stronger, and your love deeper. Your marriage will create a pathway to encourage and nurture new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing compassion and love throughout the seasons of time. Marriage is a promise made in your hearts which will take a lifetime to fulfill – today you pledge to make true to that promise – and as you do, you are creating another component to your unique relationship – you are creating a spirit that will bind you closer than any spoken or written words.

The next day I made the journey back home. As I drove a sudden impact of feelings hit me – their marriage will truly be one of the highlights of my life. A highlight I would have missed if I would have stood behind my reluctance of fear. A moment of time that would have never have changed my vitality had I not rejected my apprehension and accepted their gracious offer to unite them as one. A piece of history that has forever changed my life in ways that I am sure have yet to present themselves, but I know will continue to convey waves of buoyancy, wishes, and a enormity of elation. Their wedding day in its entire splendor rests in a memory that can never be taken away, and I can always rely on it to give my heart joy and promise.

Why do I tell you this story, besides to announce that I am now a proud card carrying minister who reports to duty as Dr. C, ready and willing if you have a marriage need … Because I almost said no to an opportunity that forever will impact my life. A chance in this life that became one of my true highlights, and an incredible abundance of a gift.

At times, a heart is afraid
How many times in your lives are you reluctant to accept an offer out of hesitance and fear? You coward behind your self doubt, trying to convenience yourself that you don’t deserve, or you will be no good at, or that it could not possibly be in your cards. You question – you distrust – you hesitate. Maybe you are too scared to find out, or worried you will land on your face square in the dirt. We are all guilty of having that critical part of our very core that tries to make us believe that we are not worthy enough of such a chance … Well, I ask you the same question I asked myself – if you cannot look past your inner doubt to see the blessing of this possibility – then what? You will undoubtedly wonder. That kind of wonder that makes you feel like you gave up too easy or didn’t fight your doubt enough, and that wonder will indeed, true to its nature, haunt you.

If you don’t try, you will never know.
We have opportunities each and every day to change the course of our lives. To stand up and be the voice behind the scenes. To ask, “Will you” in atypical, exceptional moments of life. Moments that are rare and special, vibrant and inspirational, to be cherished, deliver importance, and grant an emphasis to the shape of your character. It’s these times that mold you into the person you strive to be – its these times that carve out tidbits of who you truly are. Moments when you changed the life of another, gave them a memory of all time, and in turn granted yourself a highlight that you can build upon. Step up – accept the offer – do it for those around you, and for them alone – for within that gift of unselfishness you are truly finding that life made with those around you is a life worth having. By accepting offers of once in a day, week, lifetime of chance, you provide to your very essence of life. And if asked the question, “Will you take this life and run with it?” I hope you answer – "I will".

Monday, July 5, 2010

Freedom and Dreams ...

Now where did I put that sparkler? I know I had it lit in this house somewhere...

... That is neither here nor there ... its Fourth of July!! My third favorite holiday of the year!! (Your guess on the other two, and no Columbus day is not one of them ... however Flag Day is close in the running...)

The movie “Independence Day” is one of my most adored summertime flicks, and captures one of my all time favorite movie speeches:
“In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And, you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind," that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interest. Perhaps, its fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom--not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We're fighting for our right to live--to exist. And, should we win the day; the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish, without a fight. We're going to live on. We're going to survive. Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!" – President Thomas J. Whitmore.

Our country was founded on three key principles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I will not weary you with one of my political soap boxes, but I will say this – these principles are a privilege. It’s a privilege that blood has been shed for; that others have sacrificed so that you are able to have. Nevertheless, you must choose to incorporate them into your lives. When faced with hardships, deadlines, overwhelming responsibilities, and emotional heartache – try to remember that you too can declare you will not go quietly into the night … Stand for what you believe in, fight for what you dream of, and live a life full of happiness. Although it’s not written as a Hollywood blockbuster, your life is enriched with freedom, dreams, and recompense if you seize to capture the true essence of America’s birth. Your freedom gives you today – to make the most of it, both the bad and the good. Declare your own Independence Day, free of negativity and procrastination in living out your dreams … The ticket has already been bought and paid for. And this is a movie worth cherishing.

God Bless America. Happy 4th of July. And may all your dreams come true ….