an excerpt from Wendell Berry, read at a wondrous wedding

In 1976 Beth and I sent out wedding announcements, creatively designed by a college friend.  It rather boldly proclaimed “Remember This Day.”  It was not intended as a “save the date” announcement as much as an invitation to join us in thinking (perhaps a bit presumptuously) that God was doing something Big here, and that, like the piles of stones set up in ancient Israel to remind of God’s faithfulness, our joined lives were supposed to stand for something.  Idealistic as it may have been, we still believe that there are times in our lives (I hope it is so with you) that we should memorialize, a stake in the ground, a pile of rocks.  Christ is present and He reigns, even in such things.  Remember those days, indeed.

By phrasing it the way we did, we also were asking that our friends and loved ones help us.  We knew enough to know that friends and family are needed to make something like a meaningful marriage; the shared vocation of creating a Kingdom outpost in a family, takes help. We spoke a lot about “community” in those years, and formed an intentional household or two with a batch of other young marrieds and singles in an urban neighborhood in Pittsburgh.  The African proverb “it takes a village” had not come to our attention yet, but it sure seemed that way for us.


And so, we so enjoyed being at several weddings this month (literally and in spirit.) And at one, this quote from Wendell Berry was read, alongside a lovely poem by Luci Shaw, and some wonderful Scripture texts.  To hear St. Wendell read from the lectern of this impressive Anglican church was sweet, and it reminded me of our feeble effort to say something like this at our own special day, November 20, 1976. 

Thanks to the extended community of Andrew and Morgan, for helping shape them into the sort of young lovers who would think to have this excerpt from one of the best collections of his essays, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community (Pantheon), read out loud prior to our vows to support them.

Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone.  They must finally turn their gaze at one another back toward the community.  If they had only themselves to considers, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things.  They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and on its own.  It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is.  These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could ever join them.  Lovers, then, “die” into their union with one another as a soul “dies” into its union with God.  And so, here, at the very heart of community life, we find not something to sell as in the public market but this momentous giving.  If the community cannot protect this giving, it can protect nothing—and our time is proving that this is so.


Here at the shop we are often asked for books on marriage.  Sometimes it
is young couples about to be married.  Sometimes it is a church
marriage retreat or small group.  Sometimes folks are in trouble,
sometimes it is for a shower or wedding gift.

Here is a list with a description of a handful of our favorites, found over at the
May monthly column. Perhaps you might want to share one or two with a couple you care about.

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