Saturday, March 19, 2011

A time for celebration?

It is Saturday, and so I was back to work again this morning.

Of the five weddings our company was responsible for today, three were cancelled and two went ahead.

My office called me late last night. They said that they wanted to do something to acknowledge the events of this last week during the weddings we were holding.

Three weddings had been cancelled, but two couples were choosing to go ahead. One can’t know all of the things that go into a decision like that, and I can’t imagine that it is an easy decision to come to.

I have been struggling all week knowing that I was going back to work on the weekend, knowing that I was going to have to try to help make this day the happiest day of the these peoples’ lives.

Is it callous to go ahead with a wedding at a time like this? Is this a time for celebration? Is it ok for us to not only be happy, but to display our happiness in such a public and extravagant way?

I have trouble watching the footage on TV of this disaster because I find a lot of it to be perverse and sensational. Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to a radio report from one of the tsunami-hit areas, and the reporter described the victims who were sheltered in a gymnasium.

Among them was a school teacher who had lost everything. His home was gone. His family was dead. Many of his students had died. The man asked the reporter where he had come from, and the reporter said that he had come from America.

The man then said, “Thank you for coming.”

This man had lost every possession. He had lost his family, his students. The tsunami had taken away almost everything. What remained was something the tsunami could not take away: his gratitude.

Hearing the man speak this one word, “thank you”, I sobbed.

I was asked to lead the people attending the weddings today in a time of reflection about the week’s events and somehow tie it to the fact that we were celebrating a wedding today. I thought of the man who had thanked the reporter for coming and felt inspired by him, and yet each time I tried to form my thoughts into words, all that came out was sobs.

I was supposed to be helping these people attending the weddings to work through their feelings about attending a celebration during a time like this, and what if I couldn’t do it without sobbing? I called my dad, because I knew that he would be able to help me.

In my message today, I asked what would be left if everything we had would be suddenly washed away.

Gratitude. Hope. Love.

I said we should be Grateful for this day to be together. That this young couple represents the Hope that Japan will recover and rebuild and become whole again. That the gift of Love that this couple shares should be celebrated.

And that it should be celebrated not in spite of but exactly because it is a time like this.

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