About one year ago to the day (Oct 13, 2012) my oldest daughter called me, very excited, to say that she had just gotten engaged. I knew it was going to happen. Her boyfriend had spoken with me earlier in the week and their engagement was on the docket for that Saturday in a cornfield maze in Lexington, SC. What is interesting is the fact that I took that call about 10 minutes before I was getting ready to lead a wedding service for a couple at the Old Sheldon Church grounds located in the beautiful Lowcountry town of Yemassee, not far from Beaufort, SC. The timing of the call was perfect as I reflected on marriage, the covenant relationship between a couple, and how I was just plain happy for my daughter and her boyfriend – talk about life transitions! Engagement is a transition from singlehood to the prospect and plan for marriage. Both engagement and the marriage service itself are two important points in the transitional life stages of people. I felt like I had been tapped on the shoulder by God when my daughter called and that same tapping, metaphorically speaking, happened as the couple at Old Sheldon shared their vows. Surely God was in that place. I felt the holy hush that is the Spirit of God. It was God saying, “Pay attention, life is changing and it’s good.”
This month we are planning for the marriage of my daughter and her fiancé who were engaged last year. How time flies! It has been both a long year and a short year. Her wedding day has been circled and transition is in the cards so to speak – transition from living at home with us sometimes to living with her husband and creating a home and enjoying life, work, and worship. I too feel the transition. She is leaving our family in one sense. She is establishing a covenant of love with her husband. It’s a huge transition for us and for them. Yet, it feels good and it feels right. I am enjoying it for the most part, even if there is a bit of sadness with her leaving our home.
One other brief note of transition: My dad is in hospice care in Colorado. He has end-stage vascular dementia, among other medical challenges that are calling us to recognize and accept he is transitioning from this earth to a place where there is hopefully no pain and no illness and no tears. I don’t know how many days or months he has to live, but I do know that the physicians believe his body is giving out. Yet, I am able to talk with him and he knows me some, and that is comforting and holy in the regard that that conversation will not always be possible. Life is transitioning for him and for me and our family.
Transitions are stressful, and they are incredibly holy and sacred. I cannot think of many things more transitional and meaningful than an adult daughter’s marriage or a parent’s medical challenges. Let me invite us to look at our transitions in life as fruitful possibilities for conversations and human connections that are markers that will forever be points and experiences that give great meaning to our journeys of life, work, and faith. One ancient writer said, “Love casts out all fear.” That is so true. There is nothing to fear as we go through transitions. God is with us in the medical challenges that we face and in the beautiful transitions that happen in family life.
Lord, may we see your hand and work in all of life's transitions. May you touch our hearts to remind us when the sacred is right in front of us, and may we know the greatness of human love and divine love always. Amen.
-- Chaplain George M. Rossi