Ivory and Gray
For the wedding of Alex and Julia on October 15, 2011
On this beginning day of your marriage,
You appear in ivory and gray, not black and white.
So too in the nuances of life you will learn to blend in a little like this,
Making the differences between his way and her way a little less stark.
The way you grew alone now changes into the way you will grow together.
Yet you are still designed to be distinct from one another.
So go forth boldly with grace and joy,
Cherishing who you are each created to be in Christ:
Two gifts of uniqueness joined.
Jesus makes you one for one another, for his own glory,
Reflecting his radiant love in your new home, your new family,
Starting on your wedding day of ivory and gray.
That's the poem, now how about a story to go with it?
I had been wanting to write a wedding poem for my daughter Julia and her husband Alex for quite a while to give to them as a wedding present. I written "Seven Blessings for One Marriage" for Mary and Ryan in 2008, and knew that just as their poem captured the Jewish flavor of their wedding, I needed to think of something that was unique to Julia and Alex's special day. This takes a lot of thought, because I just don't like to dash off a ditty. The wedding was rapidly approaching and I still hadn't come up with any good ideas. Finally, just six days before the wedding, I sat down in a Subway sandwich shop while my boys were at youth group. I carried with me pen, paper, my leather bound journal and the book Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith by Luci Shaw as my inspiration. (You can read more about that book in another blog post here: Is My Head in the Clouds? I had been soaking in the book, jotting down my reflections, when I lady walked in and sat down near me in one of the easy chairs, leaned her head back, and closed her eyes. A little later, we started talking. She was waiting for her daughter, who works there, so our conversation turned to our children. She asked if I was a Christian, and when I told her yes, she said, "I was praying for you while I was sitting there with my eyes closed." Wow! That was sweet -- and timely! I asked her to pray that I could get the poem written for my daughter. She said she would, and then they left. And as I sat there and started thinking about the poem, pen in hand, I imagined seeing Julia and Alex at the altar. What did they look like? Ivory and gray. What did I envision for their marriage? Peace and understanding. And so I wrote: first, second, third drafts. What you see above is probably sixth draft or something, after I removed extraneous lines about the contrasts of burlap and lace, lemonade and sweet tea, that would have clued you in to their country wedding reception. When I finished the poem, I printed it in gray ink on ivory paper in the pristina font you see above. Then I matted it with ivory lace in a gray-silver frame. I read it to them at their rehearsal dinner and gave it to them then.
So there you have it, the story behind my "Ivory and Gray" poem. The wedding was beautiful, just as I had pictured in my mind. You can see more photos here:
Note: I usually write free verse poems, but I did do a rhyming one, Diamonds in Our Family Tree, for my grandparents' 75th anniversary two years ago. The flower arbor I mentioned in their poem reminds some of us of the arbor that Julia and Alex were married under, as in the wedding picture above.