Midweek Musings

“Choosing Love”


As a hospice chaplain, I once served a patient in his twenties who had suffered from a pulmonary disease since the age of three years old. He came onto hospice care after he was rejected for a heart-lung transplant and was told that there were no further aggressive treatments left.

           He and his fiancée wanted to get married in the Catholic Church but there was some hold up on her paperwork and the nurse became concerned that the patient was declining and death was imminent. So, after some deliberation by both the bride and groom and their parents, they called the chaplain; and on Valentine’s Day at four o’clock, surrounded by members of their families, we huddled together in a small living room, read scriptures, prayed prayers, and listened as they made their promises to love, support, and cherish each other. We clapped. We hugged and we toasted them with plastic cups of sweet wine.

           At work the following week a colleague asked me the reason for the ceremony. The question surprised me and she elaborated. She wanted to know if there was some financial incentive or green card at stake for a member of the couple. She wondered if there would be property to share or an insurance benefit to be had. “No,” I answered. “As far as I know there is no logical reason for their choice, no rational explanation for this union.” And my colleague then smiled and shrugged. “Then I guess it’s really like any other wedding, isn’t it?”

           The Valentine wedding and this conversation came to mind recently when I witnessed on a news report two Ukrainian soldiers getting married as the Russians approached their country, war breaking out all around them. I thought about this couple and the hospice patient who got married to his beloved and I realized my co-worker was right. I realized that even with a terminal prognosis, even in the time of war, there wasn’t that much that was different for these couples than for any other choosing to get married. After all, no one standing at an altar promising to love, honor, and cherish another really considers what the future might bring. No one making those vows really thinks that there’s a fifty percent chance that their union will end in divorce. No one imagines betrayal or disappointment. No one measures how long forever really is.

           It seems to me that in the end, every wedding ceremony is an act of faith. Every promise, as well-meaning and well-intentioned as it might be, is still tentative. And yet, maybe that’s why weddings are so special and poignant, why they might even be deemed in our society as necessary.

           They’re special and poignant and important because while knowing everything we do about divorce and disappointment and even death, couples say, we say, let us choose love. Even with what we know and what we don’t know, even as we suit up for battle, even as the doctors say there’s nothing more to be done, we decide to be together, vowing to love and cherish and support. It might not be rational or practical or even have a very good reason to do so; but really, is there anything more important, more special than that?

           The Psalmist writes, “I believe I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Choosing love is the action of faith in seeing that goodness, honoring the promises of God and our beloveds, choosing love. Surely, nothing in this world is better than recognizing there is trouble on the horizon and still making that choice, that promise to love.

Choose love, my friends. Always, choose love.

           You are the light of the world!



We pray for our brothers and sisters in the Ukraine. We pray for peace. We pray for wisdom. We pray God’s reign to come and love to rule across the world.