I am sitting on a plane returning from a trip to Los Angeles. The occasion for the trip was the wedding of the oldest daughter of some of our closest friends. My husband and I met them 30 years ago when they were pregnant with the child who just got married. We were married the following year. As couple friends, we have walked together through the birth of five children - their three, our two - a miscarriage for each of us, periods of unemployment and career changes, and serious challenges to each of our marriages. Both marriages have somehow remained intact and seem stronger now than ever. Both couples have relocated to the east coast in the last ten years and this weekend we all reconvened on the west coast for the marriage of their daughter.

It was a storybook wedding on the beach in Malibu Colony. Their daughter has married a lovely, solid, young man of Hollywood royalty who clearly loves her very much. The bride has grown into such a beautiful young woman, so self-possessed and mature, it takes my breath away. What happed to the child we used to play with? All of it was gorgeous and disorienting. And it seemed wrenching for our friends to give their daughter away. Or maybe to acknowledge that they had already had. To symbolically release her to a new way of life, a new family, a new last name was achingly painful even as it unfolded just as one would hope.

As a presider at many weddings now, I have been aware that family dynamics can be very tough even in the midst of a joyful event. But I have never felt it so keenly as when I watched one of my oldest friends, showing his age for the first time, walk his daughter down the aisle and stumble a bit through his toast. I am left with these searing impressions: we are all so fragile. Life is so tenuous, glorious and heart-breaking in the same moment. Marriage requires a bold leap of faith, bolder than we realize at first. Endings seem to lurk around the edge of beginnings. I am struck by the pain that resides in the heart, even as we smile and mostly manage our lives.  All we have is this moment until we don’t. As the poet, Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”