Today is my parents 50th wedding anniversary. I was able to fly home to Seattle to surprise them for their anniversary dinner. This was the toast I gave them. The other toasts that followed and my Dad’s in particular were so much better — which only makes me so much prouder to be their daughter.
They say the path along the equator is roughly 25,000 miles. Assuming you were able to walk at a pace of 3 miles per hour for 8 hours a day it would take about 3 years to walk around the world. Ok so that’s the theory.
In 1970 (the year I was born) a guy from Minnesota named Dave Kunst set out to do just that and he became the first person verified to walk around the globe. It took him 4 years. Now that’s a college education for you.
Dave was no doubt a stud so let’s round up for the average human and call it 5 years. That means looking at your 50 years together, had you wanted to, you could have circled the globe 10 times.
Just imagine - 10 different times walking through Quito, Nariobi, Kuala Lumpur, Miami (with a little detour off the equator.) That’s how long 50 years is.
BUT Instead of circling the globe together, you have done something far more impressive over these past 50 years. You’ve walked the path of kissing and making up thousands and thousands of time.
You have made a loving promise to stay together through times of closeness and through times of distance and you have kept it. You have been our witness to what a committed, thriving, authentic, peace making marriage could look like. All three of your children are trying to follow your lead. I’m half way there.
This promise to live out our days in relationship with another person is not easy. We all know that. But we also know what it is to experience the mystery when we allow our hearts to be wedded together ... when we are still fully ourselves but also now part of a “we” ... this wholly other personality and adventure road map to discover. This part of you that becomes more alive in the we.
You don’t take a girl from New Jersey and a boy from Kansas - who barely knew each other - without expectation that “we” will be in for an exciting ride.
The very last words Jesus spoke - his last and final promise - was this: “I am with you always.” To be accompanied therefore is something he thought was kind of important. That of all the parting words he could have said - work hard or chase your dreams or remember to take the trash out - he talked about company for the journey.
And while none of us could pull off something as audacious as permanently accompanying someone —- it makes me think that marriage is our closest, albeit imperfect, proxy.
The destinations and the milestones are special - and Mom and Dad you’ve had many - but it’s the fact that you had someone there with you the whole time that is the greatest gift. And that gift doesn’t end even when your passports expire or your longest walk of the day is to the mailbox.
It’s the gift you can keep on giving each other for years to come.
So here’s to 50 years of David and Jessica and the beautiful “we” your marriage has created. We love you.