“There has to be another way.”
A young bride, dressed in a magnificent array of wedding finery, stood anxiously outside the mahogany doors of the chapel. She was dressed in pure white, from the dainty heeled shoe that occasionally peeked from under the abundant folds of the satin gown, to the half-blown rose placed among her chestnut tresses surrounded with a delicate spray of baby’s-breath. In her hand she held a solitary white rose, its faultless form and color symbolizing the innocence of the hand and heart that held it. But behind that glad light in her large hazel eyes was a look of earnest concern.
“There has to be another way,” she repeated quietly with a small shake of her head.
“I’m afraid not,” an usher said. “In order to provide such a stunning view, the building was placed with its back against the edge of the cliff. The only way to access the back of the chapel is first to enter through these front doors, cross in front of the altar, and pass through the aisle.”
“But the groom is already inside,” the mother of the bride objected. “He would see her as she walked through. We can’t have that.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. But there is no other choice.”
The mother let out a sigh and turned to her daughter. Reaching forward and gently stroking a wavy lock she whispered, “I’m afraid this is the way it has to be, sweetheart. In the end it won’t really matter that much.”
“Oh but it will,” the bride asserted. “I’ve waited so long for that moment when I walk down the aisle and he sees me for the first time. Until that moment, my beauty, my heart, and my innocence will have been shaded and hidden from him. Oh mother, only when a woman is ready to pledge before God her life and her very being to one man should her full beauty be revealed. Until that moment he has no right to look on her. That is why I could not bear for him to see me before our time. I want to save that moment. I want to see his face, his eyes during that first glimpse of my unveiled beauty. It is important to me… and to him,” she added with dewy, dropped lashes.
“There is another way,” a serious voice said slowly after a pause. It belonged to another, older usher whom the bride and her mother had never seen before. “There is another way, but it is one few brides take. For many look down upon it, calling it strange and unnecessary.” He paused, as though testing the willingness of the bride. The earnest entreaty and newfound hope in her eyes urged him to continue. “There is a path which reaches the back door, but it first takes you down the hill, across the chasm floor, and straight up the face of the cliff. It is a long journey, tiring and extremely difficult. Many times you will be tempted to go back as the sun reaches its height and showers its burning rays upon your face, as your friends and family call you “fool!” and forsake you, and as your limbs tire from the never-ending strain of battle. But,” he said after another pause, “if you complete the journey, you will enter through the back doors, standing afore the altar where your future husband waits. You will have saved the revealing of your beauty for that one moment. Is this what you seek?”
“Yes,” answered the bride, “oh yes!”
“Then there is the path,” he said, pointing to a woodland trail to the right of the chapel. The way looked easy enough, slanting downward slightly but not to the point of difficulty, so the young bride walked briskly toward it. But in reaching the path, she also reached a point on the hill that enabled her to see into the chasm and view the side of the cliff she would later have to climb. Her eyes widened in fear and doubt began to creep into her heart. For the chasm was so deep she could not see its bottom, only hear a distant howl rising from its center. The cliff was as high as the chasm was deep, with sharp, angry stones jutting up and threatening every side. Questions tiptoed into her mind. Was she strong enough to complete the journey? Would anyone dare stay by her side all the way? What if she fell only steps from the chapel door? What if along the way her face was dirtied or her dress torn, taking away from the beauty she was so anxious to guard?
Without taking her eyes from the awful path she whispered to the usher the most important question in her mind… “Is it worth it?
He took her hand, turning her gaze from the cliff and back to the path saying, “It will be worth it. Trust me; it is well worth the fight… and it is well worth the wait.”
To be continued...