Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Wedding

I heard something about a car accident and began listening more intently. We had just arrived in Tepetzingo at the home of the groom's family to help with last minute preparations. The bride had taken a taxi to Cuernavaca, about 30 minutes away, and was injured in an accident. Details were sketchy but it didn't sound too serious. We were given instructions quickly and the parents of the bride and my sister Gale, who is a nurse, left to return to Cuernavaca.

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Preparing for the reception. (Larger version)


We helped with decorations for the reception before walking to the church to wrap pots of Poinsettias with tissue paper and ribbons. On the way we stopped by a store for something to drink and eat. Tepetzingo is small, so small that there are no traffic lights in town, which means it's a community where people know one another. The owner of the store said something in Spanish and we recognized the name "Trista". "Yes", I responded, "we're here for the wedding." I never met anyone in Mexico who is as tall as I am. Given my height and white beard it was impossible not to stand out. He knew I must be related to Trista. In Tepetzingo wedding invitations aren't mailed. They are hand delivered to each home so he know Trista and the upcoming wedding.

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Friends arrive from the United States. (Larger version)


The church in which the wedding was to be held is one of three churches. The oldest church is a small stone building with only five benches. When the town outgrew the church a wall and platform were built in front of the original church. A corrugated metal roof supported by metal poles was erected and extends from the altar area and is perpendicular to the original church, blocking the view of the building. There are no walls to enclose the building. Sometime within the last 20 years a third and larger church was added to the east side of the original building. Like the second church it is a metal roof without a wall on the south side. To prevent excessive sun, shade cloth hangs from the end of the roof.

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The second church that sits perpendicular to the smallest and largest churches. (Larger version)


I pastored for about 20 years and was always frustrated by the money wasted to build huge buildings with stained glass, marble baptisteries and air conditioning -- buildings that are used to capacity perhaps one hour per week on a few Sundays. It's an interesting choice -- expend money for a building to provide momentary comfort for a few people or use the same money for people who are truly suffering. I prefer the choice made by the people in Tepetzingo. People are more important than buildings.

Back to the wedding!

After finishing preparations at the church we were resting when the man who cares for the grounds climbed steps on the outside of the old stone building and called to Julie. He motioned for us to follow. On the domed roof he rang one of the two bells with a fast clanging noise designed to get attention. Then he stopped, put his hand on the bell to quiet it and struck it once to make a clear distinct sound. I wondered if it was some commonly understood code. It was about one hour before people would begin arriving for the wedding. Was that the meaning of the single ring? After ringing the bell he stood erect, smiled and pointed to the surrounding area to share with us the views.

We returned to the groom’s house and learned the bride was fine -- two stitches on her leg and a bump on her forehead. However, the accident would delay the wedding from 6:00 PM until about 6:30.

The priest arrived and introduced himself. He’s from Tepetzingo but is a missionary in another country and happened to be home for a short period. I liked him immediately. He spoke English quite well and was friendly.

I was surprised by the Mariachi band at the wedding. I expected them at the reception but not the wedding. They took seats at the front facing perpendicular to the altar. When the service began they started singing with beautiful voices. Periodically during they service they played and sang. Later I learned it is common for Mariachis to take part in services.

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Starting down the aisle. (Larger version)


The atmosphere of the wedding was relaxed. There was little of the stiff formality found in most of the weddings I’ve attended. I was amused by the young boy who was standing behind the couple as they exchanged vows. He was quietly meandering around drinking a yogurt.

I never kept track of the number of weddings I performed. There is only one that stands out strongly in my memory. It's unique because the couple had two friends with them. There was only five of us in the church. No flowers, no music, no attention to wedding etiquette -- who sits where, when is the mother of the bride seated, etc, etc. It's memorable because of the genuine sincerity, emotion and happiness of the couple and their friends. I no longer remember their names but I remember that feeling of genuineness.

This wedding will be memorable also and for the same reason.

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The newlyweds and parents. (Larger version)

4 Comments:

Blogger THE Michael said...

I am so amazed at the joining of two distinct cultures. I wonder how the white parents initially handled this? I wonder how the Mexican parents handled it?

What amazes me even more is that she had the support of so much family that extended so far into another country. I was lucky to get people in the same CITY as mine to come to my wedding.

1/04/2008 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

There are a whole lot more good people in the world than "bad"ones. The good ones just don't make the news.

And that is what occured to me when I read this piece.

1/04/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger mk99 said...

I agree about the memories of a wedding. Having done it twice - the first larger, formal, organized, and looking back, cold.

The second was just the key players. Our parents, our choice of witnesses, my husband's uncle to officiate and us. 13 on the 13th!

I am intrigued with your past. 20 years pastoring - in what denomination?

1/04/2008 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger mk99 said...

I agree about the memories of a wedding. Having done it twice - the first larger, formal, organized, and looking back, cold.

The second was just the key players. Our parents, our choice of witnesses, my husband's uncle to officiate and us. 13 on the 13th!

I am intrigued with your past. 20 years pastoring - in what denomination?

1/04/2008 08:06:00 PM  

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