We've all seen wedding vows exchanged: letters of commitment read aloud, the traditional, repeat-after-me "I take you ..." Still, vows are really abstract promises until you're hearing your own voice say the words.
Adam and Lauren (whose wedding I just witnessed) committed their vows to memory instead of repeating after a clergyman or justice. I loved the wording they chose ... "to be your loving and faithful (wife/husband) in plenty and want ..." The idea of these two extremes, which can both happen in the span of a week or even over the course of one day, is the blessing and great risk of a marriage.
Sept. 11 is a day when we all spend at least a little time considering those that we love and those who lost loved ones in 2001 and in the years since.
Today, I am also considering the realities of my vows. You see, when entering a lifelong union sealed "until we are parted by death," there is no person who assumes that a lifetime will be shortened by disaster or disease.
Leading up to our wedding, I remember a heightened sense of fear that something could happen to Patrick. The reality is that this is something of which we can all be afraid.
Something horrible, indeed, may happen. All of the spouses of 9/11 victims know this fact. And even if that "something" is a natural decline, as was the case for Patrick's grandmother this summer, watching a husband grieve for a wife is sad and painful. In those eyes, there is a question of how to ever go on. It is impossible to fathom that kind of loss.
But there is another reality, and in that reality is the fact that living fuels the deepest relationships. Sharing life -- in plenty and want -- sustains the vows we take. When something happens, we can cling to each moment we vowed to live together.