The towering Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar testified to an ancient beginning. Beneath their immense limbs the air was cool; refreshing from the recent oppressive temperatures. Beyond, could be heard the sounds of the river dancing over a small waterfall. The dappling sunlight filtering down through the tops of the trees revealed rows of chairs set in two sections divided by a grassy path and leading to a rose covered arbor.
Beneath the arbor, stood the pastor and the groom. In contrast to the pastor’s dark suit, the young man was dressed in light slacks, a white shirt, and a face-splitting grin. They shared a hushed word and then he looked up as his lovely bride approached unescorted.
She was adorned in a simple creamy dress that ended just above her knees. An antique scarf wound around her head and black cowboy boots completed her ensemble. The ends of the scarf cascaded down the bodice of her gown, along with her flowing golden-brown locks. The effect was quaint and breath-taking.
She seemed unaware of her effect on the 100 or so on-lookers. Her gaze focused on her groom; her smile unwavering and only for him. She approached her love, grasped his hands and they turned to face each other as the pastor began the brief ceremony.
“Jamie and Rick want to welcome and thank you for sharing this time with them as they commit to giving their lives to each other before God and all of you present. They’ve chosen this setting for several reasons they’d like to share with you.”
Rick looked into his bride’s eyes. “Jamie, this setting speaks to me of the enduring love God has for mankind. This old growth timber began growing years before either of us was born. The roots of these trees grow deep providing a strong support for the soaring trunks and limbs, and refreshment for those who shelter beneath. I am committing to offer that support, shelter, and refreshment to you through the storms that will come in our lives.”
A tear slid down Jamie’s cheek as she quietly spoke. “As this rain forest takes in the moisture God provides and releases it to help grow and sustain the lives of the plants and animals here, I commit to nourish and sustain you through both good times and bad.”
As vows and rings were exchanged the hush of those watching was only broken by the bird calls. Finally, the pastor pronounced them husband and wife and they shared a brief kiss.
Rick squeezed Jamie’s fingers and turning to face family and friends said, “You can hear the river just behind us. It courses through this park, tumbling over the rocks, steady in its quest to reach the sea. We too have a quest. We know and love the Lord and want to serve Him whole-heartedly. We’ve had the privilege of witnessing for Him to many of you and it is our special joy today that five of you have chosen this day to make a public commitment of your new birth by being baptized in this river. So, as soon as the pastor and I change, we ask that you join us there.”
Surprised, the group meandered down the sandy slope to the river’s edge. Soon Rick, the pastor and a young cousin stepped into the cool waters, wading in until they were nearly waist deep. They spoke briefly, prayed and then the young man was assisted to tip back until completely submerged. “Buried with Christ, raised to walk a new life!” intoned the pastor as the crowd erupted into applause and cheers.
Next, Jamie’s cousin and then 2 friends followed the young man’s example. Finally, an elderly woman entered the stream, gasping at the coolness of the water. She was guided gently into the deeper water. “I’m Grandma Jean,” she stated. “I’m the wild and crazy one! I may be nearly as old as these trees, but when I come out of this river, I’ll be as fresh as a new baby! Let’s do it!” She slipped beneath the clear waters and as she stood again, she raised a hand in triumph.
Those in attendance roared their support as the bride, unmindful of the dripping water, engulfed her grandmother in a hug. “Thank you for sharing your day with me,” Jean said excitedly. “No grandma, thank you for making this day even more memorable.”
The wind swayed the limbs of the giant trees as they quietly nodded their approval.
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