That’s how long it has been since Ellen and I sealed our love with sacred vows and at a humble altar promised ourselves each to the other. The memory of that night in North Carolina in that white steepled church where we joined hands and hearts in a lifetime journey is etched into the deepest recesses of mind, head and heart and will be with me as long as I am able to think conscious thoughts. So I cherish every opportunity to reflect upon that day and all the days that have ensued since, with births, marriages, birthdays, Christmases and, yes, sadly so, even some funerals: all part and parcel of a life adventure that started with youthful love and longings, matured into a full-bloomed, nurturing love one for the other, and is now, fifty-five years later, a love that is still with pleasure yet not without pain, drawing our souls, minds and hearts ever more tightly together into that perfect bond of “oneness.” As we stood hand in hand at that white chapel altar in August of 1965, I shared with those witnesses present some verses that I had penned and whispered to Ellen while we were falling in love. I share those verses today with you hoping that you too can rejoice in God’s graciousness to us in giving us the life-mate of His choice though we are so undeserving of such grace:
Following the recitation of those verses, we both knelt at the altar while the pastor prayed over us asking God to bless this holy union of twain into one. When the prayer was over, and the “Amen” said, we stood to our feet and were startled to find that a black cat had wandered into the church, the doors being opened because there was no air-conditioning and the building was packed with family and friends for this special occasion. The uninvited guest had made its way, unbeknown to most everyone whose heads were bowed and eyes closed for prayer, down the red-carpeted aisle to the front of the church to join the “wedding party!” Well, we are not given to superstition so we all had a good chuckle out of this and the pastor went on to pronounce us “husband and wife,” and we have lived happily for the fifty-five years following that beautiful August evening in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge mountains.
We are here today to give God hearty praise and heartfelt glory!