What could be more sacred? A man, a woman, a minister, an outdoor gazebo adorned with flowers, a warm evening breeze and a few white fluffy clouds in an otherwise-blue sky…but then came another sing-songy reading of 1 Cor. 13:4-7. If I ever became a minister, I thought to myself, I’d steer couples toward Song of Songs 8:6-7 – “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned.”

And I thought of my neighbor, a woman who, like me, turned 40 this year, and while I’m watching two people vow for better and for worse, she and her husband and their two kids, instead of riding bikes and swimming and jumping on the trampoline and barbecuing like last summer, are consumed by her battle against brain cancer. Despite chemo and radiation therapies, her odds are not good.

Sitting at the wedding listening to a young woman drone her way through “love is never boastful, proud or rude”…I thought, we need to equip people with “love is as strong as death,” because they’ll need it someday. I believe love is stronger than death. But I don’t envy those whose life circumstances put that to the test.

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