“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.” — Martin Luther King
Did you attend the wedding? The May wedding in England…that moment of love that brushed politics, rancor and greed aside and let us all — the whole world — gaze into the power of love.
While Megan and Harry were a beautiful couple, it was the beautiful sense of peace and wonder that took the stage. Our countries, once enemies, once competitors, once outsiders, crossed more than oceans to meet at that altar.
Harry has a freedom not available to his brother William, who is second in line for the British crown. Harry’s distance from the throne gives him a place to steer his own ship of life, rather than the ship of state — and that ship has sailed to distant shores. He served two deployments in Afghanistan, launched a charity in Africa to support children orphaned by HIV/AIDS, and lent his support to various humanitarian efforts throughout the world.
This isn’t the first televised Royal event. I remember bits and pieces of the coronation of Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, as I lay in front of our tiny black and white TV. That era’s new technology brought the world into our humble living room, pomp and circumstance on view from our Minnesota perch. We were awestruck!
While that 1952 coronation — the most recent in British Royalty — was like peering into an ancient fairytale, this wedding was like being invited into an intimate moment as two people joined their lives. The distance of their stories melted away in the promises they took: For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, until death beckons.
What drew us into that story? What held us there? It wasn’t the dress, gorgeous though it was. It wasn’t the cherubic children guiding the dress’ train. It wasn’t the abbreviated guest list with its who’s in and who’s not. It was the bravery of two people promising to the world that they were in this for good, for a lifetime, by their own choice.
We know Harry’s story. We remember his sorrowful walk behind his mother’s casket. We remember his military career where he, like his fellow soldiers, submitted to orders from officers under his grandmother’s rule. We remember his eligible bachelor days, charming and playful. Yes, we remember it all — the heart-stricken boy, the dutiful soldier, the gregarious most-eligible. He was irresistible.
While we don’t know Megan’s story in the same way, she has had her own stage, but it wasn’t the world stage. We do know that she is a biracial American, that depending on where they might have lived 70 years ago her parents could not have married, that 60 years ago she could have been banned from “whites only” schools, and 50 years ago her voting rights might have been questioned at her polling place.
We know these things as we watch Megan confidently walk up the aisle at St George’s Chapel to join hands with her prince. No wonder we cannot turn away.
Two church leaders flank the altar, one speaking the Queen’s English, the other American colloquialisms. Passages read from Hebrew and Christian scripture. Vows updated for contemporary understandings of marriage. Ritual witnessed by royalty and commoner.
Great divides crossed by love
For centuries, royalty has used marriage to build alliances — queens and princes harvested from other countries to ensure a connection between nations, to build useful diplomatic ties, to form fragile truces between historic enemies. The purpose of this bond was not political or strategic or even convenient. The purpose of this wedding was to build a marriage, to add more love to the world, to commit to a future together. We hope it is why any of us marry — because we are better together than we are apart. Because our families, our communities, our nations and our world are better with a little more, rather than a little less, love.
There is so much this wedding was not about. But what it was about was love and the power of that love. American Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry had a clear message. “There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love…..But love is not only about a young couple. Now the power of love is demonstrated by the fact that we’re all here. Two young people fell in love, and we all showed up.”
Many of us did show up. Early morning Anglophiles gathered for tea and scones donning hats and gloves. Worldwide, 2 billion people watched according to UK’s Daily Express. That’s a lot of people!
Bishop Curry continued to describe love as unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive. This is the love that changes lives and can change this world. And what would a world where love is the way look like?Here is Bishop Curry’s picture:
When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again.
When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.
When love is the way, poverty will become history.
When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary.
When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.
When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children.
Because when love is the way, we actually treat each other, well… like we are actually family.
That is why so many of us attended the wedding. Because we all are family. Because our British/American roots run deep. Because in some way we know Megan and her family. Because the wide ocean of difference is narrowed by love.
Bishop Curry ended by quoting the Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre de Chardin, who understood love too. “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, [we] will have discovered fire.”
Let us do what we can to enkindle that flame!
Mary Lou Logsdon holds an MA in Theology and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She facilitates retreats and meets one-on-one with people interested in exploring their spiritual lives. She can be reached at logsdon.marylou (at) gmail.com