Growing Values in a Time of Covid

The late Randy Pausch told  a delightful story of his wedding day in his book, *“The Last Lecture.”  Their perfect outdoor wedding on the lawn of a Victorian mansion, was supposed to end with a romantic ride in a Hot Air Balloon. “Like a fairy tale ending to a Disney movie,” his bride said.

Except it didn’t go that way. The balloon smashed through tree branches on the way up. Even so, once past the trees they simply enjoyed the sights. That is until, they noticed the balloon operator was looking concerned. Winds had shifted and he had no control over the direction they were going. At first the Ballooner assured them they would be all right. But then as he began to look  more worried, he  admitted he couldn’t find a place to set the balloon down. Soon the newlyweds were frantically looking for a place they could land. After spotting a large field they  started to descend  only to discover a train appearing on the edge of the field.   It was far too close to their landing site.

The Ballooner rapidly let out air, which saved them from the train tracks, but not from a crash landing in the field.  Their balloon bounced  until it tilted almost horizontally, before it fully stopped.  People from a nearby highway pulled over and raced to help.  As Randy Pausch told the story, he said it was quite a sight. There was  Randy’s new bride in her wedding dress . . . Randy in his suit, a collapsed balloon and a relieved Ballooner.   “It was only dusk on the first day of their marriage,” he said, “but they had made it so far.”

Almost every young bride I have ever met, has dreamed of her wedding day.  Visions of being in her bridal gown walking down the aisle to her waiting perfect spouse, fill her mind. In those visions, everything is planned to perfection. There are no mistakes, mishaps or complications. I always warn young couples in love that something will go wrong on their wedding day. It’s not a matter of if something goes wrong, but what goes wrong at their wedding.

This year’s bridal couples have had their plans uprooted. Dates have changed. Wedding venues have canceled out. Celebrations have been postponed. Backyard weddings have been in vogue. Social Distancing is required.   Couples getting married  in the year of Covid19  have learned that the best of plans can be disrupted.  They have had to be exhibit  flexibility, while  working through major problems together.  Couples have either grown  together or fallen apart as they sorted through  what was really important to their special day, and what mattered little.  Yesterday’s necessity  has been discarded as today’s frivolous nonessential. They are good lessons for couples to learn early.  Indeed, these are good lessons for all of us to learn about patience, compassion and values in working through our differences.    

The apostle Paul left us these wise and enduring words on love. “Love never gives up. . . . Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have . . . Isn’t always ‘me first,’ Doesn’t fly off the handle . . . Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Trusts God always . . . Always looks for the best.” I Corinthians 13:4-7  (portions) The Message Bible

*“The Last Lecture” is a book written by Randy Pausch in the months before his death from pancreatic cancer.  It includes the full more colorful story of his wedding day.  Every year, Carnegie Mellon chose one person to give a lecture, as if it would be the last one they would ever give. It was called “The Last Lecture.”  Randy  Pausch had just been diagnosed with a fast-moving cancer before his name was chosen. You can find the full Lecture he gave here on Achieving Childhood Dreams. The book was written in  part so that his young children would have some sense of who he was, his values and the things that mattered in life to him.