So, Rob...was your weekend as good as you thought it would be?
Yes. Actually, I think I posted that after I came back, to be succinct, but the story's worth telling.
Four of us guys, best friends from college. One of us had gone through particularly trying times with the long illness and eventual death of his wife (best friend of my wife from college, their wedding the reason we started dating, and the couple we lived closest to, saw most, and socialized with frequently for, well... something like 14 years). We saw many of the rough patches - the grieving, the mourning; the beginnings of recovery; stepping out again.
He eventually happened across a high school friend, living near his hometown. There had been some mutual attraction/feelings/interest back then, but for various reasons never pursued. Her marriage had recently ended badly. She and my friend talked a lot, rediscovered old feelings, discovered new feelings, started dating, and it was soon apparent that they would build a life together.
My wife and I were privileged to be among the first of his "old" friends to meet her. She reached out to us when we barely knew her - invited us into her home and family, went the extra mile in one of our own times of grief. We could see clearly that she's beautiful, loving, funny, intelligent, strongly family-oriented, thoroughly in love with him - and it was a joy to see him not "merely" healed (which he was (which put him in a position to appreciate her)) but actually happy, seeing a future, realizing some dreams & ambitions, forming new dreams & ambitions, and thoroughly in love with her.
They married this weekend. Our other college friends were in attendance, and did much to help bring off the day with nary a hitch. This was actually the first opportunity for our other two couples to meet her in person (they agree she's wonderful for him, and think she'll fit in great with our little gang of lunatics). I had the privilege of serving as best man, and managed (mostly) to not screw anything up. (Note to other prospective "best men" out there - one of the lesser-known (but still important) duties of the best man is to make sure the groom remembers to eat that morning)
When they announced their engagement and told us all to save the date, they spoke of theirs being "a love 28 years in the making". In my toast at the reception, I spoke (or tried to) of how that sentiment struck me as being connected to biblical passages on weddings, wine, vintages (and I dunno, maybe some whiskey adverts) - and how, truly, their love was the best vintage, aged in the finest barrels, and had now come of age and was ready to be tasted and enjoyed.
Back home, heading for choir rehearsal tonight, I was making a mental note for intentions in our closing prayer circle - to make sure I remembered to offer a prayer of Thanksgiving to our God of new beginnings for our friends and their new beginning. Little chance of me being allowed to forget - I opened my music folder and was reminded that tonight's rehearsal set was the Mass parts for a composition called The Mass of New Beginnings.
One of the other particularly nice things about this past weekend (and our guys' night the week before), was that this month we four guys mark 25 years of friendship. Truly another gift to thank God for.