I played a wedding Saturday. I was at church early to get my usual Saturday duties out of the way. Looking for a few moments to practice a few classical pieces on my palette, the nave was largely bustling with a very large retinue of attendants (twenty-one) and family (more, believe me) getting their memories recorded to digital imagery.
The groom looked happy–he was in between fetching various people for the photo-flash. I stopped to wish him well. I mentioned my wedding day was one of the happiest of my life. Then he startled me with a question. He asked for advice.
Take a moment or two during the day to step back and drink it in. You’ll have jogs to your memory in the images and video captured of the day. But I think the time is ideal for pulling out of the scene for a minute or two and just look around. A few times. Or even just once. Watching one’s beloved walking your way. Watching a tender moment with a parent or young sibling or cousin. The other hand signing the marriage license.
I was thinking about that a bit more about that yesterday. That couple was now married one day, I thought. I had eighteen-and-a-half years. Do I follow my own advice in the experience of marriage? Did I that day? Do I have a memory album with images not captured in the green embossed book my wife keeps in the spare room?
I was thinking about the practice of the Examen today. (Check a good summary here.) How would this translate:
- Become aware of God’s presence.
- Review the day with gratitude.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
- Look toward tomorrow.
I’m a big fan of praying before going to bed at night. How many couples practice this on their wedding night? Likely fewer would take time out to share an examen of the wedding day.
But after the liturgy, feasting, and merriment has concluded, a couple might find themselves alone for the first time all day. Would it benefit to take ten minutes to hold hands, take a deep breath, and become aware of God’s presence and regard for a beloved son and daughter?
Think back to the day: waking up and the thoughts that accompanied that, getting ready, getting to church, more preparing, those endless photographs, the liturgy, traveling together in a large vehicle probably driven by someone else, a meal, cake, clinging dinnerware on glasses, dancing, and celebration.
A couple could share their emotions as the day progressed. Maybe one feature of the day was particularly striking. How does one pray “from” that moment? It’s mainly about a conversation with God. Why, Lord, are you showing me or us this experience? What does this experience tell me or us about our wedding day, our marriage, our future?
What am I most looking forward to doing with you tomorrow? That question could be directed at one’s spouse as well as the Almighty.
I didn’t practice the Examen on my wedding day. But often in my experience of praying the Examen as a long-married person, my wife and the experience of our marriage figures frequently in my daily reflection. And whether you couples out there practice the Ignatian Examen or not, I hope you can take just that minute or two to withdraw and reflect on the experience of love and shared life.