Love In The Time of Quarantine

In case you’ve been asleep for a few weeks, there’s a terrible global pandemic going on right now.

It has caused all “non-essential” gatherings to be postponed or canceled. This has caused a mass disruption to all events, like graduations, church services, and of course, even weddings.

As many of you know, we live on the road in our travel trailer, zig-zagging the country full-time for the last four years. But in the last two weeks, all of our reservations at parks were canceled, as the world shut down. So we booked it to my brother and his family’s home near Chattanooga, TN.

We’d been self-quarantining for the least week, when my brother, a minister received a call from a close friend who asked if he would mind officiating a socially-distanced wedding for he and his fiancé the next day.

After some careful discussion, he said yes. His friend, knowing that I’m a photographer and hearing that I was here, asked if I would mind snapping some photos for them… from a safe distance of course. I said yes too.

We arrived at the pastoral north Georgia farm just in time to greet Paul and Elin, as well as a small handful of immediate family before the ceremony would start. I waved hello and introduced myself from six feet away. It was all very strange. But the feeling truly solemn and beautiful.

You see, to a christian, weddings are just about the most important events in life. Weddings, are a tangible demarcation between the believer and the broader culture. I’m now paraphrasing what Tim Keller posits in his profound book, The Meaning of Marriage. He basically says, christians believe that marriage is a covenant. It’s a sacrificial commitment to the good of the other. And love is more action than emotion. It’s a holy sacrament that points us to the love and sacrifice of Christ.

By contrast, the culture tends to believe that the individual’s happiness is the ultimate goal, so marriage is a means to romantic self-fulfillment, that can be easily be nullified if and when our feelings change.

There was something urgent that day. Some might ask, “Why risk it and get married, why not just wait?” Well, when you approach marriage the way these two do, the more apropos question really is, “why wait?” The covenant vows await.

This is of utmost importance.

Friends from all over the country watched, thanks to the Zoom phenomenon.

The ceremony was short and sweet, quiet and appropriately weighty at times. These two believes that these vows are unbreakable, to borrow from Harry Potter.

  

It was also light and funny. No one really knew what to do. This was uncharted territory in many respects. They had literally planned this ceremony in less than 24 hours.

But that’s what made it so special, if you ask me. Contrary to what our modern culture says is important about a wedding… the dress, the flowers, the venue, the music, the food, the exit, etc., Paul and Elin recognized it was about the commitment, before God and family. A covenant (taken seriously) is what creates security and cultivates/ nurtures love in a relationship like nothing else. And marriage is the ultimate way to express love.

It was all about love. The love that Paul has for Elin, and she for him. And more importantly, the love that Christ has for all of us.

 

My favorite moment was the prayer. The couple embraced tenderly. As if nothing in the world were wrong. No, I take that back. They embraced, knowing that everything in the world could go wrong, but their bond is forever and held together now by none other than the Creator of all things.

When my brother made the pronouncement, the joy was palatable.

There was no great recessional after the announcement of husband and wife. Simply a wave at the computer, full of their loved ones, sharing in their joy from afar, and some digital greetings and well-wishes.

  

Their family, for now at least, complete.

The first “socially distanced” family portraits I’ve ever done.

    

It wasn’t perfect social distancing, but everyone really did do their best. Except for the bride and groom, of course!

Just as was the case on other holy events in history, even the animals watched on.

It was truly an occasion for the good stuff!

The wedding of Paul and Elin was very short and very beautiful. But more than just this, it was a sign of cautious optimism. A harbinger for hope. A simple wedding ceremony not soon forgotten.

We may not ever return to the normal we’ve always known, but we will return to days of love, holy sacrament, and the joys of gathering. We will return to the things that matter most.

Join me in raising a glass to the happy couple!

— Andrew

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