Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 36

Republisher’s Note: A Manny wedding.

Quench Me by Amy – Chapter 36

Halfway to St. Michael’s, Danny and I realized that we’d need wedding rings for the ceremony. We made an extremely brief detour to a jewelry store, where he looked at women’s rings and I looked at men’s. We agreed to pick out each other’s wedding bands, and surprise one another. The jeweler quickly sized each of our ring fingers, and then we went our separate ways in search of the perfect wedding ring. I never thought “eloping” would be so much fun.

For Danny, I selected a heavy, yellow gold band, with a small bit of engraving on the outer edges. Not too elaborate, not too plain… just very, very Danny. I have no idea what he picked out for me, and to tell the truth, I don’t care. Being his wife is better than any piece of jewelry he could ever buy me.

As we leave the jeweler, he asks me if I want to go home to change clothes. I quickly reply that I do not want to waste another minute, and direct him to drive straight to St. Michael’s. He readily agrees, and we hop back into his black Nissan and head in the direction of our dream come true.

We burst through the doors laughing and smiling, and Ray greets us with outstretched arms. “Danny, Michelle… I’m so happy for you. I hoped that one day I’d have the privilege of marrying the two of you. I just never thought it would happen so quickly.”

“Well Ray, when it’s right, it’s right,” Danny says. “I’ve known it for a long time.”

“Me too,” I quickly add. “From the very beginning.”

“If I thought otherwise, I’d never have agreed to do this,” Ray says. “But seeing as you are my family… both of you… and I’ve spent quite a bit of time with you, I feel confident that you’re entering into this for all the right reasons.”

“We are, Ray,” Danny replies. “Because we love each other, and we’re committed to staying together for the rest of our lives, no matter what. We’re not going to give up, even when times get tough. This is forever.”

“I can tell, Danny,” Ray says. “I could tell the first time I met Michelle.”

“Thank you, Ray,” I respond, reaching out to embrace him. “I can’t tell you how much it means to us that you’re going to marry us.”

“It’s my pleasure,” he says, leading us into the sanctuary. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve asked Sister Evelyn and Mr. Addison, our maintenance man, to witness the ceremony. You’ll need their signatures for your license.”

“That’s fine, Ray,” Danny says, as we reach the front of the church.

After a few quick introductions, Ray says it’s time to begin. Danny and I join hands and turn to face one another. As easy as it is for me to get lost in Danny’s eyes, I remind myself that this is my wedding day – the only one I’m ever going to have – and I’m careful to listen to every word that Ray says.

As my heart settles in to a steady rhythm that only Danny can evoke, I hear Ray begin the ceremony. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good tidings of peace,” his voice declares. “People everywhere, in all ages, have been drawn together in times of tribulation, and likewise in times of great joy, such as today, as we gather here to celebrate with these two – Danny and Michelle – the creation of a new family.”

Danny’s smiling, and his eyes begin to pool over with tears. He grips my hands tightly, his thumbs gently rubbing from my wrist to my fingers. I smile back at him, conveying the love that is bubbling over in my heart, as Ray continues.

“In the presence of God, let us witness the joining of Danny and Michelle in holy marriage, which is an honorable estate, instituted by God, symbolizing the mystical union between Christ and His church.”

Danny silently mouths “I love you”, and my knees almost give out. My lips form a silent “I love you too”, as a single tear trickles down his cheek.

“This union, and these pledges will set them apart, in a new and holy estate of matrimony,” Ray continues. “Marriage is a covenant of faith between a man and a woman. It allows them openness of life, freedom from doubt and suspicion, and a commitment to speak the truth in love.”

This moment is more incredible than I ever imagined. I’m standing here, in a beautiful church, looking into the face of the man I’ve searched for all my life – the man who makes me whole, fills me in every way. We stand, ready and willing, on the brink of pledging our love and our lives to each other for all time, and it’s the most “right” thing I’ve ever done.

“Marriage is a covenant of love,” Ray continues. “A covenant in which both husband and wife take on the concerns of the other. This covenant is not to be entered into lightly, but soberly, and in the fear of God.”

Ray pauses for the briefest of moments, and smiles at Danny, and then at me, reassuring us that he knows that we aren’t entering into this lightly.

“Into this holy estate now, Danny and Michelle come to be joined, and we join with them, in prayer, love, and support, in the celebration of the union of their two hearts into one… one heart, one home, and one love.”

Ray opens the Bible that he holds in his hands and goes on. “There are many Biblical foundations for marriage, and if you’ll allow me, I’d like to share some of them with you now… In Genesis chapter two, verse eighteen, God says, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.’ For this reason, God created a companion for man… a perfect companion. Danny, you have found your perfect companion in Michelle.”

Danny’s eyes never leave mine, and I feel tears leave my eyes and make their way down my cheeks. I want to be his perfect companion, now and always.

“In Ephesians chapter five, Paul writes, ‘Wives understand and support your husbands, and husbands provide leadership for your wives, not by domineering, but by cherishing.’ In this way, Danny and Michelle, let your love be marked by giving, not by gain.”

Danny reaches up and wipes my tears from my face, and I kiss his fingers as they brush across my lips. Ray watches the tender exchange between the two of us, and once our hands are once again joined, he continues.

“Perhaps the most poignant instruction for love is found in First Corinthians chapter thirteen… ‘Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy. It does not boast. It does not behave rudely, and it is not self-serving. Love is not easily provoked and thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails.’ Those words, Danny and Michelle, are the foundations upon which God would have you build your home. For love alone will be the tie that binds you through the tumults of life.”

Letting his words sink in, Ray closes his eyes momentarily, as if in silent prayer, and then quickly continues. “As a declaration of your love and commitment, vows will now be exchanged. I can recite the traditional vows, or if you’d rather, you can exchange your own vows.”

Danny and Ray exchange knowing looks, and Ray steps slightly aside. Danny’s eyes return to mine, and he takes a deep breath before beginning. “You might not know it, but I’m a bit of a traditional guy, but I’d like to embellish the traditional vows with my own thoughts.”

I simply nod and smile, as he continues. “Michelle, you changed my life in ways I never thought possible. You make me feel like I can do anything. You give me confidence. You give me perspective. You’ve shown me what’s really important in life. Everything that’s good about me is because of you, Michelle, and I’ll be so proud to call you my wife. And because of everything you do for me, because of my deep love for you, and just because of the amazing woman you are, I vow to be with you for the rest of my life. I take you, as my wife, to have and to hold, through good times and bad, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. I’ll love you and cherish you with every breath I take, and I’ll keep myself only for you, for the rest of my life, until death parts us. I vow these things to you, according to God’s holy word, and to you, I pledge my faith”

This time, it’s me who wipes his tears, and then my own, as I begin my vows to him. “Danny, before you came into my life, I didn’t know what it meant to love or to be loved. Never in my life have I felt the pure joy that you give me, just by being in your presence. My purpose in this life is clear to me now – to be your wife, the other half of you, and to never stop trying to make you happy, to return to you just a fraction of what you’ve given me. I pledge myself to you, Danny, and I take you as my husband, to have and to hold, for better or for worse. I’ll be with you always, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. For the rest of my life, I’ll love you and cherish you, and keep myself only for you, until death do us part. I vow these things to you according to God’s holy word, and to you, I pledge my faith.”

“Will you now signify your commitment to each other by the giving and receiving of rings?” Ray asks, stepping back in his place in front of us. We nod affirmatively, as we each reach into our pocket and retrieve the rings that we bought for each other.

One at a time, we place the rings in Ray’s hand, as he begins the ring ceremony. “In the palm of my hand, I hold the outward symbol of your unending love, and the sacred vows pledged today. Wear them as a sign of your love for all the world to see. May they always be a reminder of what we have witness here today, in God’s presence.”

Making eye contact with both of us, Ray continues. “As you wear your wedding rings, notice the quality of their construction. Theyare fashioned out of the most precious of metals, so let your love be your most prized and precious possession in this life. Notice also that they are a circle, unending, with no beginning and no end. So let your love be an unending circle, so much so that you can no longer tell where one of you ends and the other begins. Lastly, receive your rings as a visible gift, signifying the invisible gift that God has given you in your love for one another. Let these visible gifts remind you to allow the invisible gift to grow and multiply through the years.”

“Danny…” Ray says, as he carefully places my ring in Danny’s hand.

Danny takes my left hand and begins to slide my wedding ring onto my ring finger. I’m so caught up in the words he says that I barely even notice how beautiful the ring is.

“Michelle,” he says, as his voice cracks. “I give you this ring, as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I have and all that I am, I honor you in the name of God.”

His words touch places in me that I didn’t know existed, and I frantically try to memorize them, as Ray places Danny’s ring in my hand. “Daniel,” I say, and my voice breaks just like his did. “I give you this ring, as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I have and all that I am, I honor you in the name of God.” I slide his ring all the way onto his left ring finger, and stare at how magnificent it looks there.

Ray continues, once both our rings are in place. “Danny and Michelle… wear these rings as a token of caring and loving one another, and as a symbol that you are indeed one. Receive one another into your care and devotion. Enrich each other with your love.”

Sister Evelyn retrieves a small silver tray from the table behind Ray. On it are the elements of holy communion. “As your first act together as husband and wife,” Ray says, “it’s only fitting that you share in communion. Communion is a sacrament, a sign of God’s love, His light, and His life that He gave for all of us. But today, let it be more than a celebration of His sacrifice, but also a new covenant of grace, as you establish your love and your new family in Him”

Danny and I each pick up a small, flat piece of bread, as Ray says, “This is My body, which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” We raise the bread to our mouths, and savor the feel of it, as we are reminded of God’s ultimate sacrifice, so that we might experience life and love in this way.

Danny holds the small wine glass gently in his hands, as Ray continues. “This is the new covenant of My blood and as often as you drink it, do this in remembrance of Me.” Danny sips the wine, then passing the glass to me, and I do the same. Placing the glass back on the tray, Sister Evelyn returns it to the table.

Ray smiles at us, a broad, happy smile, and says, “Danny and Michelle, having witnessed your love in many ways before this day, and having witnessed the sincerity of your vows here today, it is my great privilege and honor, to pronounce you husband and wife. Danny, you may kiss your beautiful bride.”

Danny cups my face in his hands, and I place my hands on his shoulders, as he leans down to place his lips on mine. He holds them there for a long moment before opening his eyes and looking into mine.

“I love you, my beautiful wife,” he whispers.

“I love you too, my perfect husband,” I whisper back, before he kisses me again.

Ray, Sister Evelyn, and Mr. Addison applaud, and we  are brought back to reality. After several hugs and handshakes, and signatures on the appropriate lines,  we stroll out the door of St. Michael’s, as husband and wife, for the rest of our lives.

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