The following was written for a wedding, if its title wasn’t enough of a give away. My sister and her fiancé chose a Southern Gothic theme for their nuptials so I thought it would make a fine backdrop for my reading. It expresses 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (the Biblical passage defining Love often used in weddings) through the Southern Gothic genre. For those not familiar with Southern Gothic, it is not filled with puppy dogs, candy canes, or unicorns dancing on rainbows. Think Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, or the light-hearted, romantic comedies of Edgar Allan Poe. So with that as our context let’s begin.
The Wedding Piece
The old bench was hard like the ground it sat on. It was uncomfortable in a way that spoke of design and not weathering or neglect. Indeed, it looked well cared for. Therefore I could only assume it was for show like a statue in a quiet museum, placed for people to pause at for a moment with the understanding that they must keep moving. The whole town, small as it was in the Louisiana heat, suddenly struck as a museum; a place to linger in but briefly while making as little noise as possible. I adjusted myself around the growing ache in my legs. I looked at my watch. 12:30 PM. The driver who had guided our limping Greyhound bus into the station assured us with a chrome bright smile it would take no more than an hour to repair the problem. That had been three hours ago. I was about to stand when I heard a voice.
“Someone is getting married.”
I turned my head trying not to act surprised. A young woman sat on the far end of the bench. She was slim, pale of complexion. She may have been on my bus, though she was dressed like a woman who does not take buses. It struck me that the same heat sinking into my pores slipped right off her. She looked… cool to the touch. One thing was certain; I had not heard her sit down.
“I beg your pardon, ma’am?”
“In the Church,” she said pointing at a small, simple ivory white building down the road. A large wooden cross hung above its double doors. “I heard someone reciting that verse about Love everyone reads at their wedding so I know there is a wedding happening in that church.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. “I don’t see any decorations. There are no cars or carriages waiting out front for the couple. Not much of a wedding when you have to walk home.”
“I know what I heard. I’ve heard it before. ‘Love is patient, love is blind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…”
“Kind,” I interrupted her. “Love is kind.”
“Well of course it is,” she replied. I noticed then she was looking at me. Looking for something in my eyes. I don’t know for what, but from her reaction I had not given it to her. I turned to look at the church again trying to picture what kind of marriage was beginning behind the closed doors
“You’ve said the verse yourself, haven’t you?” she asked.
“Once,” I answered still fixed upon the doors. Her voice had a familiar quality I could not place. The harder I tried to place it the more I could not remember why it was familiar.
“Do you remember the rest of the words?” she asked.
Remembered them? I thought to myself. I had studied every letter and planted every word into the deepest part of my heart. No matter what unfairness fell upon us I would be their captive. I would remember them when angry, when I had to choose the truth or a lie, when I had to trust and hope, and when I had to forgive or be forgiven. I remembered the joy with which I burned them into me. I remember the pain when the world sought fit to take their reason from my arms.
I turned back to look straight at her.
“I can’t say I do.”
To my shock her gaze, though calm, held mine with a startling strength. I could not move.
“Then I must remind you,” she began, “that Love perseveres. Above all else, through all else on this Earth, Love perseveres.”
A loud clatter broke the moment. I turned and saw the doors of the Church were now open wide. When I turned back to her… to…to…. I sat confused and wondering what I had just been doing. Had I dosed in the heat? I felt the growing ache in legs and was about to stand when I heard laughter from within the Church.
Must be a wedding, I told myself not knowing exactly why I was so certain. I smiled at the thought of the unseen couple beginning their journey together. If they have Love, they will persevere, I said to myself as though the words were a blessing upon them.
If they have Love they will persevere.