Bruce and I went to a wedding last night. One of his former players married a lovely girl in a beautiful old catholic church in Cincinnati's Mt. Adams. Everything about the wedding was breathtaking, starting with the view from the front of the church. Mt. Adams is a neighborhood built on one of Cincinnati's famed seven hills. The church sits at the top of the hill, overlooking the river with an incredible view of the city.
The view inside the church was no less spectacular. The soaring arches, art, and stained glass windows created an atmosphere meant to evoke a sense of wonder at the glory of God. And for the more devout among us, it was effective. My friend, Ellen, pointed out the marble communion rail, an apparent oddity in more modern catholic churches. On the other hand, I had to resist an urge to twitter before the ceremony about what I noticed. I thought the palm leaves in the stained glass looked like marijuana leaves, and Bruce (a lapsed catholic) breathed a sigh of relief when the priest walked by him, and he didn't burst into flames. The beauty of the place left both of us with a strong desire to go see Angels and Demons.
In spite of the grandeur of the church, the priest was very down to earth in his comments to the bride and groom. Weddings always make me reflect on my own marriage which will have achieved 20 years on June 3rd of this year. I thought about how you don't really understand what it means to love someone for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad when you first agree to it. It's a lot harder than the words themselves suggest. The wedding is all about romance, and lord knows I love romance. Emily looked like a fairy tale princess in her dress, and Sean couldn't peel his eyes off of her. When Emily got teary-eyed in the service, so did I. The idea of two people finding each other is powerful, and even though there will be days that test their relationship, the wedding day is about hope and love.
The reception hall was more incredible than the church. The old St. Paul's Church in downtown Cincinnati has been renovated in to an event hall called the Bell Event Centre. Wow. The ceiling soared higher than the church in which they were married, and I spent a lot of time looking up at the artwork. Jesus and the angels watched us eat, drink, and be merry. Bruce was certain there were at least a thousand candles in the place, and he might have been right.
The reception was my favorite part of the night. The food was delicious, the band was great, and the bar was open. But the real reason I loved the reception was the communion with Sean and Emily's family and friends. Like my husband, Sean is a college football coach. He married a coach's daughter. Many of the guests were part of the coaching community, and interestingly, many of their spouses were teachers. The word that kept coming up in conversations was influence.
Bruce was Sean's college coach. We played for three national titles and won two while he was a player. They had a close relationship, and when Sean graduated, he decided he wanted to be a coach. Bruce helped him get his first coaching job, and provided references and counseling as he worked his way to bigger schools. Sean finally landed at Florida. Emily is the Asst. Head Coach's daughter. Anyone who follows college football knows the Gators are the 400 lb gorilla on the block. Bruce and I actually had the good fortune to take Connor to the National Championship game in Miami this past January. Sean got us seats three rows up on the 15 yard line. Coach Heater made a point of seeking Bruce out at the reception, and shaking his hand. He thanked him for being such a positive influence on Sean, for teaching him the game, and fostering his growth as a man.
Several of Bruce's former players attended the wedding. All of them embraced my husband, genuinely happy to see their former coach and mentor. We talked about it on the way home. We were reminded why we chose our professions in the first place. In tough economic times it's easy to question those choices. Watching Sean and Emily glowing with happiness at the beginning of their life together, it felt good to know my husband played a role in the series of events that got them there.