In the Eye of the Beholder


The magic moment in every wedding ceremony is that pause between the time the last bridesmaid or flower girl gets in place and when the door at the back of the room opens. Everyone holds his breath; the audience cranes its collective neck, waiting to see the bride. And there she is!

One of my favorite jobs as a clergyman is getting to officiate at weddings. They are such happy times. Usually it is the happiest day of the young couples life, and the proudest day for both sets of parents. Everyone else is trying really hard to get along, too, for just a few hours one Saturday afternoon.

I have the best seat in the house. Feeding the bride and groom their lines, directing them through the various rituals Im close enough to see the beads of perspiration and the tears. The best man teetering on the edge of fainting. The nervous giggles.

All brides are beautiful. I always think that the bride walking through that door and coming toward me down the aisle is the loveliest one yet and I usually tell her as much.

Oh, you say that to every bride,” the blushing young lady will accuse. And shes right: I do. But I mean it when I say it, caught up in the moment just like everyone else. Brides are beautiful almost by definition.

My friend, Joe McKeever, is a cartoonist. His single frames poke fun at the foibles of the religious and appear in lots of Christian publications. He carries a pad and pen everywhere he goes and draws faces. In restaurants, hell draw the wait staff, and half the kitchen crew is lined up at his tableside, waiting for their chance.

Joe has drawn over 100,000 faces at one minute each. Men and women of all ages and children, certainly. He told me recently that every single one of them was a beautiful person.

I look into their eyes when I draw them,” he explained. While hes sketching, he looks with intensity only at his subject all other distractions frozen out.

And, of course, most people try to smile and look their best when they know they are being drawn. That helps.

We usually find what we are looking for, if we are willing to look really hard for it. Beauty is there in every human being if wed just take the time.

When my wife and I eat out at one of our favorite Old Town restaurants, we usually sit in the back. She takes the corner table looking out at the crowd, while I sit facing only her.  Shes the only one I can see. Its a little trick I learned to show her how important she is to me — giving her my undivided attention. And I think every time: this is the most beautiful bride I have ever seen. Still, after all these years.

Don Davidson is pastor of First Baptist Church in Alexandria.