Timeless message holds true in life’s big moments

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sitting in the pew of Provine Chapel on the campus of Mississippi College Saturday my life flashed before me — at least the last 20-something years anyway.

Emily, my youngest niece and an MC graduate, was getting married. Her older sister was married just more than a year earlier in a church only a few miles away.

And suddenly our family has gotten larger and more spread out.

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For my sister, the mother of the bride, I’m quite certain the moment was bittersweet. On one hand, I’m sure she’s delighted that both her daughters have been blessed enough to find kind, young, Christian men with whom to spend their lives.

She’ll also soon have a bit of the proverbial empty nest syndrome that occurs when suddenly all of the children of a family grow up and move out.

As Emily walked down the aisle, I couldn’t help but the see the small child that I remember from so many years ago.

She and her sister, Megan, were regulars in my early college and work years. They would frequent my parents’ house for holidays and other family gatherings.

In my mind, they were always little. Each reared under the same household, but with very different personalities.

Emily, from an early age was sort of fiercely loyal. You didn’t dare “wrong” her in her eyes, or she’d hold a grudge for a long, long time.

That fierce loyalty turned into a dedication to her friends, family and to her faith.

Almost comically, I recall her ardent support for President George Bush, perhaps a decade or more before she could actually vote.

I believe one of the best gifts I ever gave Emily — or at least the one she most appreciated at the time — was a simple photograph of the president I’d taken.

Emily’s faith has led her to do missionary work that has both terrified her mother and made her immensely proud at the same time.

What parent in their right mind wouldn’t be scared of seeing their child travel around the globe?

Our daughter served as the flower girl in Emily’s wedding, so we were invited to the rehearsal dinner Friday night.

It was fun to see the two families — bride and groom — and all of their friends get together, mix and mingle and share their histories with one another.

It’s always amazed me how, when we as human beings come together over food, we can often find so much in common.

As the dinner event wound down, several people stood up to share thoughts on the bridal couple.

A few poked a little fun, which was expected, and hopefully Emily won’t hold a grudge against them.

But most, interestingly enough, talked about their respect for the young couple and their faith and dedication to God and to one another.

It was heartwarming to me to see this, and not just because we’re related by blood, but simply because it’s easy for us all to sort of discount the younger generations that follow us.

It’s almost a pastime of sorts, I imagine. Certainly my parents and their cohorts shook their heads at my own generation and thought, “What is the world coming to?”

The generation before them and the generation before that did the same.

But each successive generation is a weird blend of the one before with a dash or two of their own quirkiness as well.

Emily and her new husband, Andrew, are a testament to that. I see their parents in both of them, but I also see uniqueness as well.

Emotions and nostalgia are pervasive this time of year as we’re all deep in the high school and college graduation season.

Lots of people will be offering up advice to graduates, and that advice will range from quotes from famous people in history to lines from Dr. Seuss’ children’s books.

But perhaps the best advice I can think of comes from a simple and old book, and it seems fitting for both graduations and weddings:

Love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul.

Love your neighbors as yourself.

After that, pretty much everything else usually falls into order — even at weddings or when we find ourselves suddenly alone after family members leave us.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.