Around Town and Around the Wedding

According to Dom Jean Leclerq (The Love of Learning and the Desire for God), one of the hallmarks of the monastic life is to live life intensively. Intensive is indeed how I lived the last week, as I was in Escondido, California for my sister’s wedding with all that went into that.

After each having spent the whole day at work, Michelle and I arrived in San Diego late Tuesday evening and were picked up by my sister and Dan. When we got to my parents’ house, we found it as full as expected: Christian Beisch, whom I call my German brother, and Anne-Marie Cullum, my sister’s friend from the UK, were both staying there as well. In the midst of catching up with everyone (it had been since August 2005 that I visited Christian in Germany), seeing what my parents have been up to around their place (including building a decorative mine complete with ore-cart), and meeting new people (e.g., Anne-Marie, Dan’s family, et al.) there was plenty of work to still be done for the wedding. Much of my task on Wednesday was to prepare the program/worship aid for Christi. Although it was a little frustrating to be doing so when a) I wanted to spend time with everyone and b) I do them all the time at work, in the end, I think they came out nice and incorporated what Christi wanted in them. Somewhere during the day we also accompanied my sister and parents out to Bernardo Winery where the reception was to be hosted in order for them to finish up some paperwork but which gave Christian, Michelle, Anne-Marie, and myself a nice opportunity to chat, meet some of the other folks in the wedding party, and do our own sampling of the local wine. That evening Christian and I got booted out of the house by the girls’ evening (see Michelle’s forthcoming post), so we happily took the chance to escape to Hutchison’s farm in order to catch up with them over an excellent dinner.

Prince of Peace AbbeyThe girls’ had made plans for Thursday as well, so Christian and I once again did our own thing. (I really didn’t see Michelle very much during this trip, hence her separate post). In the morning we took a break from the intensive pace of the house and found some respite at Prince of Peace Abbey in Oceanside. Prince of Peace was founded as Saint Charles (Borromeo) Priory in 1957 by monks from Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, itself founded (as the second Benedictine community in the United States) by monks from Einsiedeln, Switzerland in 1854. After visiting the church, spending some time in prayer, and taking some pictures, Christian and I also walked the Via Crucis and attended Mass before heading down the hill to the beach. That evening Dan’s parents’ hosted an excellent rehearsal dinner in the early evening at India Princess as requested by Christi and Dan, given that their first date was at an Indian restaurant. Rushing back up I-15 after dinner in order to get to the church in time for the rehearsal in the face of the traffic was one of those moments when I realized how happy I am to not be living in California anymore (not to mention my realizing that I’d painfully eaten too much). The rehearsal was nearly a disaster which seems to stem primarily from the lack of available resources (and imagination) at the parish, although in the end everything worked out. Afterward most of the folks in the wedding party came over to my parents’ house, hung out on the back patio (where I slept much of the time I was there in order to keep cool), told stories, drank, and engaged in debates about the rights—human or legal—of the Guantanamo detainees which was made all the more tangible given that Dan served there with the Navy.

Friday was pretty much a blur (although shmear might better capture the tone of the day) but suffice it to say that Christi and Dan’s getaway car was given royal treatment, the programs were printed, the flowers in the centerpieces that had been scorched were replaced, dresses and tuxedos were picked up, ladybugs were distributed, church decorations we put in place (or removed), and much, much more.

The wedding itself was, as I said in my previous post, wonderful! After the reception, the wedding party and a few other folks went out for drinks at Stone Brewing Co.. In addition to greatly enjoying the company and catching up with folks, I relished in my Belgian Trippel from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Co..

Sunday’s big event was a family reunion that gradually grew to include many others. My dad’s sisters, MaryAnn and Martha (now living in North Carolina and Oregon, respectively), arranged for the food, drinks, etc., in order that all the out-of-town family could mingle, catch up, etc. Although there was some stress in having the house ready for so many guests, it was an enjoyable and relaxing afternoon spent mostly on the luscious lawn my dad recently resodded. The grand finale of the day was a visit to Christi and Dan’s new house by nearly everyone left at the party. Christi and Dan began doing extensive demolition (towards intended renovations) on their house about three weeks before. Unbeknown to them, a number of folks had decorated the house with toilet paper and balloons earlier that day which came as none-to-appreciated surprise to some.

Monday morning Michelle left with her parents to go to northern California (again, see her forthcoming post), Anne-Marie and Christi went shopping, and Dan went to work. I managed to convince my dad to join Christian and me in playing Wii Sports on my mom’s new Wii. Although at first my dad said, I don’t do that thing, by the end of the day he was quite into the bowling and tennis, so throughout the day the four of us (my mom joining in at some point) decompressed while playing Wii. We all ended up with Miis that look amazingly true to form although secret changing of things to caricature one another of course ensued. In the afternoon John Woolsey came over to visit, as he and I had had a great conversation at the wedding reception which we had wanted to continue. John and my fathers grew up together, worked in the same municipal garage for nearly two decades, were vacation buddies at the river and Lake Powell, shared a love of restoring cars, and much more. John and I, therefore, grew up more or less brothers and it was nice to catch up with him, hear about his vocational transition from electrical engineering to pastoral ministry, and share in he and his wife’s excitement about the upcoming birth of their first child. Of course since everything in the Woolsey household (e.g., marriages, births of children, etc.) seems to be within a few months of those same events in the Casad household, speculation filled much of the conversational air… Before opening their presents and bringing Monday to a close, Anne-Marie and I treated folks to a wonderful meal which she conceived and the two of us carried out: grilled Alaskan halibut and Cajun catfish with potatoes, fancy cheeses, salad, and wedding cake.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my family and I spent Tuesday exploring San Diego before my departure on the red-eye flight back to RDU. It was an exhausting trip, but worth all pieces of it to join in witnessing and blessing my sister and Dan’s commitment to one another in the sacrament of marriage, the celebration of their union, and the conversations with those who gathered to do the same. May they live together to a happy old age!

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