As friends and family walked into the sanctuary they received a small stone. My uncle asked if it was for throwing at us when we walked down the aisle. I rolled my eyes and we all laughed. It was an odd thing to hand out for a wedding ceremony, I’ll give him that.
A rock ceremony
I was intentional about planning our wedding ceremony (yes, Brad supported my ideas, but let’s be real, I planned it!). Some of my friends (many of whom are pastors) served communion at their weddings — folks walked up the aisle and received bread and juice from the newly wedded couple. I liked the idea seeing everyone come forward, but I knew many people coming to our wedding wouldn’t be comfortable with communion and would choose not to come forward.
I searched Google and Pinterest for other ideas and came upon the rock ceremony. It was exactly what I wanted. Our pastor shared these words with our friends and family gathered with us that day:
The stones you received upon arrival represent the different paths that come to this one place… you all are the paths that bring Anne and Brad to this moment. As the mothers pour the sand notice how it fills the cracks between the rocks. This represents the thoughts, well wishes, and most importantly, prayers and support that complete the marriage picture.
A bowl full of stones
After we said our vows and exchanged rings, after we hearing the words “husband and wife”, each person present came forward with their small stone and placed it in the bowl.
Brad’s siblings, my siblings. Brad’s Nanny, Grandpa and Granny. Our aunts and uncles and cousins. Friends from his journey, friends from mine. Families that I’d supported and loved as a youth minister. So many young people that I’d mentored now (somewhat) grown up and supporting me.
I had to hold back the tears (though I didn’t completely succeed) as one by one our friends and family walked by us placing a stone in the bowl. One by one they added a piece of their story to our new one.
That bowl full of stones sits on a shelf in our living room. We pass by it multiple times a day. I often forget it’s there.
But when I do see it — I mean really see it — I return to that moment when we watched the bowl fill up with stones and then sand. I remember the promises Brad and I made to each other, and of the promises our family and friends.
Those promises have been fulfilled in a myriad of ways. Through conversations over dinner and invitations to come hang out. In yearly Christmas cards and occasional texts to check in.
Some promises were broken. I think about the unexpected turn our life took when we realized we wouldn’t have children. That was too hard for some to handle, others just didn’t know what to say so they said nothing. There have been times that we have felt completely and utterly alone on this journey. Alone together. Sometimes, alone apart.
No one wrote their name on a stone, so I can’t identify who’s who’s. The petty side of me wants to start pulling out stones for those who didn’t keep the promise, who maybe had their fingers crossed when the pastor “Will all of you, by God’s grace, do everything in your power to uphold and care for Brad and Anne in their marriage?”
Ugh. I am not a fan of the petty side of me.
Each stone matters
No, instead all the stones stay in the bowl. All of them, every single one. No matter where the journey has taken us, each of those stones represent someone who helped us get to the moment where we looked into each other’s eyes and said, “I will.” Each of those stones mattered then, which means they matter now too.
Infertility is hard. Infertility challenged both of us in different ways over the last four years. Five years of marriage — four of those wading through infertility.
I’m grateful for the bowl full of stones that reminds me we aren’t alone. Not really. Even if someone doesn’t reach out to me, I know I can reach out to them. More often than not, they just don’t know what to say… I get that. I’ve learned to ask for what I need from those I trust most. I know that I am loved more than I realize.