A Wedding Veil, an Ironing Board and Plenty of Prayers

It is just a few hours before my youngest niece’s wedding. I am in my sister’s house in Oklahoma City, where chaos is spreading like wildfire as last-minute preparations are underway.

There are too few shower stalls for the people who need them, and not enough mirrors. The bride and her sister are huddled in the main bathroom experimenting with lipstick shades, while the youngest nephew chases the dog through the house.

“What can I do to help?” I ask my sister, the stressed-out mother of the bride.

She has that glazed look in the eyes, which often strikes mothers who have been planning a wedding for months, and now realize they have three hours to go.

Much to my chagrin, she unearths a bag from the closet and hands me a thoroughly crumpled wedding veil.

“Would you iron it?”

“Of course,” I reply confidently, while inside I’m praying: Oh, Lord, please help me! Don’t let me burn this veil, because it’s the only one my niece has, and there’s no time to get another one.

I fill the iron with water and then position the veil on the board with trembling hands. Frankly, I am not the world champion when it comes to ironing.

In fact, I’ve been known to spend months avoiding the mountain of clothing growing ever higher on my own ironing board at home.

Then, just as I am about to begin, there comes an answer to my prayer: My aunt and her daughter enter the room and join me by the board.

“Move the iron from side to side,” Aunt Rita advises. “And put a cloth over the veil, so you won’t burn it,” my cousin Julie adds.

The three of us now are huddled over the board with advice streaming out as plentifully as steam. One pair of hands steadies the veil and another positions the cloth, and I’m sure we’re all uttering our own versions of silent prayers.

And then it hits me: This scenario truly is what weddings are all about.

Relatives come from various parts of the globe to take up their posts. The women decorate tables, frost the cakes, and do all the last-minute things needed for the reception.

Meanwhile, the men haul the heavy presents to the church and make sure the kids don’t kill each other.

Weddings remind me of how much we need one another. A bride needs other folks to help her calm her pre-wedding jitters, just as she needs an extra set of hands to zip up the back of her long white dress.

How telling it is that in Scripture, after God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, he quickly created Eve to start the very first family. “It is not good for man to be alone,” God declared.

That first family had troubles as all families do. Adam and Eve left the garden in shame—and one of their beloved sons killed the other. So, right from the get-go, it was obvious: Living in a family takes plenty of prayer and hard work.

You have to work together and make compromises. Heed the advice of older folks as they steer your hands this way and that. And when you get burned, as you surely will, you have to ask forgiveness.

Later that day, with family and friends looking on, my precious niece appeared on the arm of her loving father. I smiled as I noticed that the veil covering her face was all fluffed out and perfectly ironed.

I glanced at my aunt and cousin who were smiling too. Maybe, like me, they were remembering how we created our own small miracle of love earlier that day.

Like families since the beginning of time, we worked together to achieve something that would have been impossible alone. And what we did was much more than simply pressing creases from a garment.

We sent the bride into her new life veiled in love, and we dressed her in grace and prayers.

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About the Author

Lorraine is the author of “The Abbess of Andalusia: Flannery O’Connor’s Spiritual Journey.” She also has written three mysteries, most recently “Death Dons a Mask.” Her email is lorrainevmurray@yahoo.com. All of her books can be seen on her website is www.lorrainevmurray.com.

Lorraine V. Murray grew up in Miami, and graduated from Immaculata Academy High School. One of the nuns there predicted that if Lorraine went to a secular college, she would be in great danger of losing her faith. Lorraine thought that was funny, but in fact the sister’s prediction came true.

Majoring in English at the University of Florida, Lorraine bid farewell to her Catholicism when she was 19. She went on to get a Ph.D. in philosophy and became a radical feminist and atheist for over 20 years.

After teaching courses in English and philosophy on the college level, Lorraine worked as an editor in a university publications office. In her forties, the Lord called her back to her Catholic roots, and she went on to write about her conversion journey in her book “Confessions of an Ex-Feminist.”

Her recent books are "Death of a Liturgist," a fun-filled mystery featuring murder and mayhem in a Georgia parish, and "The Abbess of Andalusia," which explores Flannery O'Connor's Catholic journey. All her books can be seen at www.lorrainevmurray.com (link provided below).

Lorraine writes regular columns for the religion section of “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution” and “The Georgia Bulletin.” She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband, Jef, a Tolkien artist and book illustrator. In her spare time, she bakes bread, watches hummingbirds, and chases squirrels out of her garden.

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