As the Record’s London correspondent, I suppose it would be remiss to ignore the royal wedding. It would also be a little tricky, given the household were I spent my time. (Chez Munnik, that is – not the church – though I suppose Pont Street is in the neighbourhood… ) I live with an almost 5 year old schoolgirl, so this past week, we’ve been up to our necks in talk of princesses, promises, and the glories of bunting. We had the good fortune to attend a real live English street party at her school. It was exactly as you might imagine. Yes, bunting, and also papered tables and paper crowns and cakes and tea and scones and McVities digestive biscuits iced to look like Union Jacks and Kate & William drawing contests and people hanging out their windows above to watch the happy chaos below and about a hundred times through Knees Up Mother Brown, sung at top volume by a streetful children of every imaginable shade and hue – the very picture of modern Britain in all her patriotic splendour.
I also live with one who worked as a waiter for one fateful year in St Andrew’s, Scotland, and who, in the course of things, got to serve pizza and chocolate ice cream to the Prince and a gang of his friends, including one shining brunette with a knockout smile. (No, not me. Sigh.) He also served said brunette many a cappuccino (cappuccini?) when she came into the bistro, looking for a quiet place in the afternoon to study. Needless to say, that once-republican spouse of mine turned die-hard monarchist.
As for Blue and me, we are just fans of horses, trumpets and, yes, bunting. So, you can see we’ve all been enjoying the festivities.
We watched the royal wedding itself, not from street-side amid the hordes, but from a quiet cafe in north London, just down the street from where we live. It seemed the sensible choice with the little ones. The crowds were too daunting. And, of course, in the cafe, we got to see much more of it. All those close-ups. All those fascinators.
Watching the locals in the cafe was entertainment, too. The old couple eating their eggs and chips and gazing adoringly at the screen. The hipster with the large diamond earring who popped in, `just to see her dress, right?’ The mother and student-aged daughter draped in large cotton scarves printed with beautiful English roses. The Russian waitress, who, when asked, said she wasn’t bothered about it, but who, in between delivering coffees, was quickest back to the telly and was obviously just as bothered as we were about the whole thing.
There is a definite diversion element with all this royal madness. But there’s a feeling of hope, too. It was a perfectly beautiful wedding, so real despite the pomp, and an honestly joyful beginning to a new life lived together. I liked what Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, said when he spoke so eloquently about hope and marriage. He said:
“The more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In marriage we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.”
This is the very picture of hope. A hope for two lives lived more fully as one. As all marriages should be.
There’s another royal wedding this week, too. Shane Claiborne – that royal of radical Christianity – is marrying Katie Jo Brotherton. Happy hopeful times for the Simple Way Community. And at my church, the Auxiliary Minister interviewed an engaged couple this past week – and she’s 78 and he’s 76. Hope abounds!
So, here’s to all the couples beginning to build their lives together – to William and Kate, Shane and Katie Jo, Peter and Ines, Susan and Don, Kat and Razvan, and all of rest. Blessings and strength and love and peace and joy and hope to you all as you build your lives into one.