The Wedding of Barbara Lynn Dalland and Shawn Owen Turner
The Wedding of Barbara Lynn Dalland and Shawn Owen Turner
Sunday, May 22, 2005 at Four O'clock on the lawn at 221 Hinrichsen Heights, Coxsackie, New York
As the rain drops fell with a steady patter on the tent, to a different beat from the strains of Pachelbel's Canon in D, I thought to preface my message to the bride and groom (and others gathered for the celebration) with a reference to red letter words about the rain as a token of God's mercy. But I couldn't quite figure out how to mitigate the Lord's context, that the gentle drops of water from heaven were indiscriminate in their falling on the fields of just and unjust alike. Not to worry, Barbara's Dad, all smiles, observed that the rain was overdue: the recently leveled field had been seeded a couple of weeks earlier but hadn't yielded grass as yet. The rainfall on the wedding day was a blessing. And the tent was water tight.
Barbara Lynn is the daughter of Edward and Lynette Dalland at whose wedding I was privileged to preside thirty-six years earlier in Brooklyn. They have stayed in touch, thanks to four baptisms and a friend's 60th birthday party. Dr. Dalland, a veterinarian, began life in a small four room apartment on 46th Street in the Sunset Park corner of Brooklyn, sharing that address with his parents, Edward Sr. and Ruth, and four sisters. Little wonder, then, that the homes he has lived in have been spacious. The house in Coxsackie has more than 3000 square feet of living space, was constructed by the good doctor himself for maximum insulation and economy of heating and cooling. He owns and runs a veterinary practice near Albany. He has also served as a town selectman, and has run (unsuccessfully) for County Supervisor. Daughter Barbara is the veterinary practice office administrator. Wife Lynette is a speech therapist for BOCES. The groom, Shawn Turner, is a furniture salesman in Albany... which is how he and Barbara met, when she went in search of a sofa... and found a husband too.
The wedding was not only the celebration of two lives joining, it was also a blessed reunion of lives that once touched day to day. Family members who shared the same living space have now gone separate ways. Shawn, who sojourned in California in search of his fortune before returning to upstate New York to find his life's companion, summoned two friends from the Golden State to be groomsmen. The Best Man, like the fellow he stood up for, shares a passion for crew and coaches college oarsmen on the Hudson River. Tommy and Betty Moon (see picture and legend below) unintentionally a generation ago encouraged the marriage of the Bride's parents. Tommy and Sonny (the doctor's Brooklyn name) grew up together in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn where Tommy's mother presided over a hand laundry and Sonny's family had an apartment around the corner. Pastor Howard and Barbara came on the scene in February 1956 and helped shepherd these two "young men" through their teenage years.
The wedding service always provides the presider/pastor/preacher with the occasion to deliver a few considered thoughts about marriage. Sunday, May 22nd, at 4 PM on the lawn at the Dalland residence was no exception. Here is the message of the afternoon:
MESSAGE – The Three N’s of a Good Marriage
Last week, in anticipation of this moment of celebration, I Emailed Barbara with a question: “Do you remember what I meant by the sermon title for the wedding service, “The Three N’s of a Good Marriage”? Barbara thought I was testing her. But I was hoping she could remember what I forgot, just what are the three N’s of a good marriage. So I meditated and meditated, consulted notes, and thought some more. To no avail.
The three “N’s of a good marriage”: how about Nephews, Nieces, and Naughtiness? It would have been easier if it were the Three F’s of a Good Marriage: Fun, Fellowship, and Faith… in order of ascending importance. But three N’s, that’s a puzzlement. Nonetheless, let me try.
The first N would be Nearness. That should be easy for the two of you. When last I saw you, you were quite excited about going shopping together at mall near the Friendly’s in Lee MA where we had lunch. Couples that shop together stay together. Sharing life, its enthusiasms and its regrets, being with each other, as you shall soon promise, “for “better [or] for worse.” Intimacy. In the living room and kitchen no less than in the bedroom. Spending premium time together. When the children come, making family a priority with your schedule and your money. Sonny and Lynette have provided you with an excellent example of how to do it. If I had had the privilege of knowing Craig and Maryann over the course of forty years, I’m sure I could make the same claim about them. Being together, living and loving, nearness, the first N of a good marriage.
The second would be, could be, Neighborliness. This wedding service suggests as much. The benediction, the last good word, exhorts you: “Go to serve God and neighbor in all that you do.” It is out of the nearness and intimacy of your relationship to each other, holding each other, encouraging each other, that you can reach out to the world full of people all around you. With kindness. With generosity of mind and heart, as well as of substance. One of God’s designs with marriage is to fill this world with millions of warm spots in an often cold and heartless universe, homes of compassion, where strays are welcome and children, its own and other peoples’, are loved into life. To improve on the old saw fractured earlier: couples that love others together stay together.
I had trouble finding the right word for the third N. And I am, quite frankly, not comfortable with the one I ended up with, numinous-ness. Okay, okay, I said I wasn’t happy with it either. I even had to make an adjective into a noun. But there were no other N words available (at least, that I could think of) to convey the advantage to any couple being married to making God a part of their relationship. Numinous means spiritual, divinely inspired, the presence of God’s Spirit. Recently, in an essay on my website, about Brooklyn, would you believe, in which you and Dad and Tommy Moon are referred to, if not by name, I concluded with the thought that “the most direct route to another's soul lies through the mind and heart of God.” That goes for pastor and congregant, true, but no less for a bride and groom. Like Martin Luther taught us, that the Christian is a channel of God’s grace to his neighbor… which is supremely true for Barbara and Shawn’s nearest and dearest neighbor, each other. The laws of God and the love of God and your devotion to them enhances, greatly enhances, your devotion to each other.
So there you are, my take on the three N’s of a good marriage: nearness, neighborliness, and numinous-ness. Nieces, nephews, and a little naughtiness might also help.
God bless you, Barbara and Shawn. We bless you too.
The wedding service was surrounded, night and afternoon, by a pair of parties, each at local restaurants. They could be characterized in the most positive way as "country nice," good food and good music, while the customary agenda for such affairs was fulfilled. Here are photos from the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception.
Barbara and Shawn will honeymoon in Washington DC and, on their return, reside in Albany, he to work as a salesman in a furniture store (with rowing on the side) and she to administer her father's veterinary hospital.
Barbara's mother, Lynette, at my request, sent several pictures, some of the wedding, two of which I have incorporated into my report, and some of personal history interest. I quote from Lynette's note accompanying the photos:
I included a picture of the rock and table, with Eric standing in front, taken right before Michael's christening, and a picture of the tree that was bowed during the freak snowstorm in October of 1987, under which Barbara wanted to be married one day. Through the years the tree continued to grow and tried to right itself and we put the wedding tent underneath it.
I hope you enjoy the pictures and the memories they bring. Looking forward to seeing you again at Brian Moon's wedding [August 27, 2005 in Stamford CT].
At the reception Barbara's co-worker at Capitaland Veterinary Hospital, read this poem he prepared for this wedding celebration:
To Barb and Shawn
We gather today on this Sunday in May
Friends and family excited,
That two people in love, who fit like a glove
Will soon be duly united
She’s lovely and smart with an oversized heart,
Compassionate, honest and giving.
Despite all of this, there’s been something amiss:
That someone who makes life worth living.
As if written in scripture, Shawn entered the picture;
He showed her love and respect.
Here was a man who was much better than
Any woman could ever expect.
They knew it was fate, so they set today’s date
To announce to the world they’re together.
A great girl, a great guy
Who could ever deny
That this bond will continue forever.
So love one another, live life to the fullest,
To each other remain always true.
Just remember one thing:
This isn’t a fling.
That ended when you both said “I do”!
By Steven O’Farrell