Let’s build a house with turned out doors
So we can share what love affords
Pour ourselves out like a wine that we’ve been saving
When our well is running dry; when we raise our glasses high
Happy, shining are the faces of the thirsty
–Audrey Assad, “Blessed are the Ones”
Pre-Cana meetings have long concluded, vendors are finalized, the dress and suit are in our possession, response cards are trickling in, and centerpieces and other decorations are next on queue. We even found a place to live after we’re married–thank you, Jesus. Hello, homestretch (translation: I’m so glad you’re here/oh my goodness you’re here)!!!! I can’t believe how fast the time has flown.
Lately as we’ve been sifting through our photos as babies, kids, awkward teenagers, and adults, I find myself again experiencing moments of deep gratitude and awe at the plans God unfolded for us throughout these 15 years of our lives–how much we’ve grown and changed for the better, how much fuller we’ve been able to love each other because of our dependence on God, the source of Love. For those that follow us on social media, Jon and I have coined the phrase “journey to Cana” as our engagement hashtag as we prepare for our forthcoming nuptial…a journey that has been undeniably filled with the most difficult challenges we’ve ever faced and joy beyond compare. So before I do share why we coined that as our engagement phase name in a future post, I will say that Mary mentioning to Jesus, “they have no wine”, has a large part to do with that.
Those that know me know my affinity for wine (thank you, Italy and Slow-Drinking Club haha)–not just for the sociable aspect, but there’s such an intriguing factor about the entire process from harvesting the grapes all the way to bottling them. It’s truly a process of mastery–harvesting the grapes at the right ripened time, picking them, pressing, fermenting, maturing, and that can take place anywhere from a few months to years as you know.
Wine making has been around for thousands of years. For my bachelorette getaway in Virginia’s Wine Country with my bridesmaids, they took me to this awesome vineyard and the tour helped us understand in depth the process of wine making–how it’s been done in the past and how it’s done now with more modern equipment. In its basic form, wine making is a natural process that requires very little human action. God’s creation provides us with everything that is needed to make wine; it is up to humans to take what He has provided to do what’s necessary for the rest of the action to take place. Similarly, God provides us with everything we need in our life and more and it’s up to us to willingly say “yes” and take the appropriate measures to allow His Divine plan to transpire. It’s extraordinary to see how God allows us to be partakers in His plan. This is why I’ve always loved the line in the prayer during the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.”
So I mention this, why? I truly believe that our hearts were grapes made into wine. Since we met, God was harvesting them, pressing them (although it might have felt more like crushing at a certain point), fermenting and maturing them until the moment where He was ready for us to pour ourselves out to another. The first time we were in a relationship was the first wine, just like at the Wedding Feast at Cana. It was through the Blessed Mother when she turned to her God, her Son and said, “they have no wine.” This prompted Him to turn water into wine. This was His first miracle.
In time, God began unveiling the second wine He has been preparing for us throughout all these years.
“The headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.'” (Jn 2:10)
Our Blessed Mother’s intercession has been powerful personally for us and Jon and I both consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary is what changed our life forever. In 2007, He emptied us of the first wine so that He could harvest, ferment, and mature our hearts into the sweeter, greater tasting, everlasting wine in the coming years. In 2012, God revealed that He wasn’t done with us. And because of the blessing of family, a community of brothers, sisters, and friends, we were able to pour ourselves out in our time frequently spent with others, service to the Church, and our prayers to God with each other. In the same way, Christ fills us back up, and to the brim, through the Sacraments, through the wonderful people in our lives, through their prayers, counsel, encouragement, and love.
The first jar full of the second wine is fast approaching. May 30, 2015. 36 days. And while the second wine may not last as long in the jars (because it’s that good) at the wedding as it took for it to mature in barrels, it is Christ who will continue to fill us when our jars run dry again. He will continue filling us with the second wine so long as we say “we have no wine, Lord.” Always prefer the good wine, the second kind, the kind that satisfies…the kind with the greater taste, aroma, and texture. The kind that lasts forever. It’s the best kind you could ever receive.
It’s so hard to believe how far we’ve gotten in our discernment of this special and sacred vocation. We continue to ask for your prayers for us, that we may remain ever faithful to Christ especially after we wed.
“At that time everyone was convinced that this was the only just model, and that love by itself would guarantee the “for ever”, because love is absolute, it wants everything, and thus it demands permanence: it is “for ever”. Unfortunately, reality was not like that: we see that falling in love is a wonderful thing, but perhaps it does not always last for ever: it is a feeling which does not remain indefinitely. So it is clear that the progression from falling in love to engagement and then to marriage requires a number of decisions, interior experiences. As I said, this loving sentiment is a wonderful thing, but it has to be purified, it has to undergo a process of discernment, that is, reason and will have to come into it. Reason, sentiment and will have to come together. In the Rite of Marriage, the Church does not say: “Are you in love?” but “Do you wish?” “Have you decided?” In other words, falling in love has to become true love by involving the will and the reason in a deeper journey of purification which is the journey of engagement, such that the whole person, with all his or her faculties, with the discernment of reason and strength of will, says: “Yes, this is my life”. I often think of the wedding feast of Cana. The first wine is very fine: this is falling in love. But it does not last until the end: a second wine has to come later, it has to ferment and grow, to mature. The definitive love that can truly become this “second wine” is more wonderful still, it is better than the first wine. And this is what we must seek. Here it is important that the “I” and the “you” are not alone, but that the parish community is also involved, the Church, the circle of friends. All this – the right degree of personal maturity, communion of life with others, with families who support one another – is very important, and only in this way, through this involvement of the community, friends, the Church, the faith, God himself, can a wine emerge that will last for ever. I wish you well!”
–Pope Benedict XVI, World Meeting of Families in Milan, 2 June 2012