Last weekend we were in Wardsville, ON for a wedding. I had the privilege of marrying another of my nieces! It was wonderful to connect with my extended family again and meet new people. The bride and groom and their wedding party looked beautiful; they really were having the time of their life, despite the pouring rain that had us scrambling at the last minute to move the ceremony inside. It was quite a picture. For two hours before the ceremony, it rained. For two weeks prior, the forecast was clear.
On Friday, the day of the rehearsal, the weather was perfect. Beautiful blue skies, a lovely breeze, warm but way cooler than just a day before when we were in a heat warning! When I introduced myself to the wedding party and others who were there to help, I always do a little pep talk. I explain we are cohosts of the wedding. It is OUR job to make the wedding guests feel comfortable. We can do that by letting go of perfection and simply be ourselves. I also ask them for their help - they have to laugh at my jokes. I tell them to feel free to laugh and cry (but no ugly crying); by doing so, they will give everyone watching permission to relax and be themselves.
We were hoping the rain was going to pass by in time to dry the chairs and proceed as planned. I considered buying an umbrella that morning but decided not to because I was sure the weather would clear up, “it always does,” I thought. Despite my high hopes, 15 minutes before we were to begin the ceremony it was raining hard and we needed to implement plan B.
Several people with rain ponchos on ran and grabbed the chairs from the lawn and brought them to the tent where another team of guests, armed with towels, dried them and passed them along to others who placed them at the tables. It was a team effort! We were ready to go by 4:05 - not bad! I was standing at the head table in ankle-deep water, watching the wedding party gracefully slop through the flooded tent, socks, pant legs, dresses getting wet and muddy, and shoes getting stuck in grassy puddles.
You might anticipate a little stress about the whole situation, I mean, they’ve been planning this day for a year, and dreaming about it even longer. But what I saw and heard instead were radiant smiles and genuine laughter. At this point perfection had been thrown out the window - at the same time, this was one of those moments that was perfectly imperfect. I could tell the guests were a little bit uncomfortable at first - it was a bit confusing getting everyone in the tent and seated but once the wedding party entered and a hush came over the crowd, well, no one could resist the three little flower girls and the shear ridiculousness of a bride walking down an aisle of mud. The atmosphere was warm and intimate, albeit damp, but nonetheless, it was really something to be a part of.
Oh, and the rain did clear up (it always does), around the same time the ceremony was over haha!
As the bride’s aunt and the officiant of this wedding, I am pleased with how it all worked out, so beautifully and full of memories we will share for a lifetime. As the leader of Butterfly Way Muskoka, on the threshold of opening our doors, I am both humbled and excited about how I can relate this experience to my ministry.
First, I need to take my own advice. Let go of perfection. I don’t think I struggle with perfection on a day-to-day basis, but when I think about having guests here for our Open House at the end of the month, that’s a different story. I also feel this way about hosting our first overnight guests. I was sitting in the bunkhouse the other day, enjoying the absolute tranquility of listening to the rain and watching it through the window pouring down in the forest. I was feeling so thankful for the rain when so many areas are being devastated by forest fires this year. But then I got distracted by doubts that what we have to offer here isn’t enough. The thing is, we could spend an eternity striving for perfection and the kicker is we’ll never get there and we will have helped no one. Seems like a scheme of the devil to me. Just like at a wedding, we want our guests to enjoy themselves and be as comfortable as possible but I’ve been learning in greater degrees, when your effort is genuine and coming from a place of love, no one notices or remembers the things that didn’t go well, they only remember what did, and sometimes its things like rain that make the experience all that more meaningful.
Secondly, I was so impressed with how people just jumped in to help when they saw what was going on. There were four or five of us, then there was 10, then 15. A small army joined forces and moved quickly to bring the festivities indoors and save the day for this couple. All of our lives are richer for this experience. From the DJ to family members, friends who drove more than half a day to get there, dressed in formal wear and leather shoes, they pitched in to help, and the result? A perfectly imperfect wedding, full of laughs and tears and memorable moments. Ultimately an amazing start for this newly married couple.
That’s what I want for people who visit Butterfly Way and for communities everywhere to embrace. I want to see an army of people surrounding those who are hurting in prayer, in love, and in every practical way, so they know beyond a doubt they are loved and cared for, that God sees them and His heart, as is ours, is broken for what they have experienced. Here, we can offer hurting people a bunkie in the woods, a quiet, private space to rest, and reconnect with themselves, God, Creation, with the hope they will leave transformed, somehow. I want an army of people ready to jump in, not only with guests of Butterfly Way but everywhere! I want to see a culture shift from perfection to love. From willful blindness to eyes full of tears shared with another. The world is burning like wildfire, we need to open our hearts to people like an Air Tractor Fire Boss drops water on fire!
So we’re throwing open our doors, to the bunkies and to our hearts. We’re embracing this perfectly imperfect place and ourselves because no one notices the imperfections, only how much you care. I hope you can join us at the Open House on July 29. We’d love to show you around and please bring a friend (and maybe an umbrella)!