Rain streaked the arched windows, and the young couple whose summer wedding we had witnessed from those same pews now sat behind us, fingers-interwoven. We sang "The Old Rugged Cross" and "Amazing Grace," and we cried and laughed, both, as memories of this beautiful woman were shared. But another thread was woven through this service of remembrance of her life, and it was the beauty of marriage...her life shared. This lovely soul's final years were difficult ones, yet her husband's tenderness and faithfulness were recounted again and again by those in that sanctuary.
After the Lord's Prayer, we gathered around tables set with the last of autumn's flowers, dahlias rescued from the rain. We shared stories and a meal, marveling at the privilege of gathering to remember a life well lived and the beauty of steadfast love. As we walked out into the storm afterwards, I thought back to that summer wedding so full of hope and new promises. What a gift it was to us to be reminded today that, by God's grace, the last chapter of a marriage can be as beautiful as the first.