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Story

By Eric A. Clayton

We sat in white folding chairs, sun beating down on our necks, as we waited for the bride.

“When’s the wedding going to start?” our youngest asked. She squirmed in her frilly rainbow dress. She couldn’t decide if she wanted to stare out at the lake or keep her eyes trained on the door behind us — that was where the bride would appear.

“Soon,” we said. We offered her a cup of water, checked in on our oldest. Both girls were anxious, excited. It was their first wedding.

The groomsmen appeared. Then the grandparents and the parents and the bridesmaids and finally the bride. The girls were in awe.

“When’s the wedding going to start?” our youngest asked, grinning as the bride passed.

“Right now,” we said. “It’s starting.”

The ceremony got underway, all smiles and tears and joy. Opening remarks, a few nervous giggles, the joining of hands.

“When’s the wedding going to start?” My wife and I glanced at each other. She leaned in, offered some insight to our squirrely daughter.

I decided to heft her up and into the air. “Can you see alright?” I asked. She nodded; I put her down. I straightened my blue tie. I said something about the forthcoming promises of eternal love.

Rings were exchanged and vows were said and a kiss was shared and —

“When’s the wedding going to start?”

It became clear in that moment that our youngest was not getting the whole wedding thing. The event was quite nearly over. And no matter how many times my wife or I leaned in and tried to explain that — believe it or not, your eyes are not deceiving you — the wedding has begun, that same question hung in the air.

When’s the wedding going to start?

Our explanations — whispered, muttered, begrudging — hinged on our daughter understanding that there was a precise moment in the ceremony when love began, when something changed, when it all clicked.

And while, perhaps, that’s true from a certain point of view, the more the question rattled about in my head, the more I wondered if that four-year-old in the rainbow frills wasn’t onto something.

Ritual is important. But of course, our response to God’s call in and through our unique vocation is constant, ongoing. In each moment, we begin again. We recommit ourselves — or we don’t. We start anew, grounded in an ever-changing present, ever-evolving context.

When’s it going to start? Right now — your next vocational decision is at hand. How will you sink into this moment? Because while the decisions you’ve made leading up to this instant are foundational to who you are, you need to decide again to be the person God dreams you will be.

Because our God is constant and intimate and present. In each moment, God decides to delight in us, a swift wind that blows anew, bringing a new floral scent with each passing breeze. We are made in the image and likeness of this same God, and thus we must respond in this same constant, intimate, present way.

When’s it going to start? It already has — and the part you have yet to play is ongoing and essential and now.

This reflection is part of the award-winning weekly email series, “Now Discern This.” If you’d like to get reflections like this one directly in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here.

a person smiling for the cameraEric A. Clayton is the award-winning author of Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith and My Life with the Jedi: The Spirituality of Star Wars, an exploration of Star Wars through the lens of Ignatian spirituality (Loyola Press). He is the deputy director of communications at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. His essays on spirituality, parenting and pop culture have appeared in America MagazineNational Catholic ReporterU.S. Catholic, Busted Halo and more, and he is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day, IgnatianSpirituality.com and Dork Side of the Force, where he blogs about Star Wars. His fiction has been published by Black Hare Press, Small Wonders Magazine, Air and Nothingness Press and more.  Sign up for his Substack “Story Scraps” here. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife, two young daughters and their cat.