Seven years ago this Sunday, I stood at the foot of the hallowed altar of a stunningly beautiful chapel donning tails, anxiously peering down a seemingly endless aisle, greatly anticipating the swinging forth of towering doors and the grand entrance of my bride. Today, my memory recalls many snapshots of that day. The light of the sun dancing through still window panes. Her long train gathering rose petals like railcars to accompany her as she made a long walk to join me at the altar. The fresh paint of manicured toes peeking forth from beneath her gown noticeable to me upon each downward glance for prayer. Streaming tears inconspicuously cloaked by a veil. My tears which were not. A shout of praise at the glory of the day. Our kiss.
Seven years later, anxious anticipation of her appearance has yet to cease. Mine is the daily anticipation of crossing the threshold of our abode to be greeted by her warm embrace. Mine is the daily gift of her effervescent personality empowered by her engaging smile, her tender touch, her bountiful beauty. When I am away from her presence, mine, too, is the anxious anticipation of her texts, emails or calls to say, "I love you!"
While we rightly and roundly enjoy the fruits of our physical intimacy, given to us as a sacred trust by God, our greater intimacy is transcendent of human touch. As husband and wife, we openly share our dreams, our hopes, our fears and our struggles. We anticipate each other's needs, fiercely guard each other's heart, rejoice in each other's successes and stand unwaveringly by each other's side when met with disappointment.
Who could have imagined that the woman I mistook for an upperclassman upon our first encounter as freshmen due to her striking confidence and poise would become my wife, the mother of our glorious children, my life partner and my best friend? Surely, God above! Surely, the angels in heaven! For Yulise is one of their own! Yulise is proof positive that angels exist and that they sometimes walk upon the earth. In all ways possible she not only completes me, but makes me a better me.
No, our marriage is not perfect. No marriage is. We consider our union to be beautifully human -- in some places, strong, in other places, weak. But we are fully confident that our marriage is being perfected with each passing day. Our beautiful human experience has dealt to us a duality of life experiences. We have laughed together, cried together, rejoiced in birthing rooms, consoled each other near headstones and loved each other with imperfect perfection.
A pastor, I have been blessed to lead numerous couples in exchanging marital vows. A family law attorney, my wife has aided numerous clients along the path toward marital dissolution. Together, our professional experiences also make us aware of the sacredness of our union, that what we have is special, and how quickly it can all be lost if not given proper care and attention. Therefore, we choose to live life like it's golden, being quick to forgive, slow to get angry and purposeful in our communication with each other.
When preaching in the African American tradition, musicians often accompany the sermon's crescendo with a melodic interchange. It makes for a harmonious arrangement of words and sounds. Well, too, within this tradition is the recitation of a sacred hymn during the crescendo. At my preaching's height, I crescendo in the key of E Flat.
Therefore, as I now reach the crescendo of this ode to my bride upon our seventh anniversary, I do so by reciting a sacred hymn composed by the Psalmist Jill Scott (making only slight alterations to her original composition where appropriate):
Yulise loves me especially different every time.
She keeps me on my feet happily excited by her perfume,
Her hands, her smile, her intelligence,
You woo me, you court me, you tease me, you please me,
You school me, give me some things to think about,
Invite me, you ignite me, you co-write me, you love me, you like me...
And I will forever love you. Happy Anniversary!