Monday - 5th of May 2014.
I hear you asking what was so special about yesterday! Let me share it with you.
I went into a very quiet Cathedral Square in the heart of our broken city to meet up with a couple who had been married for 50 years. They were married with 400 guests in Christchurch Cathedral, Houston, Texas, USA. I hope what I share with you is accurate because I scribbled notes and today I am trying to decipher them.
Here is a photo of the delightful Jerry and Sherry Ritcheson. They travelled here with a group from all over the USA on Vantage. In their group there were two couples from Texas, and couples from Arizona, California, Idaho, and Illinois and a few other states. Many of them retired teachers. Michael Matthews a lovely man was the tour guide who had been travelling for three weeks around New Zealand. Michael was pleased I arrived early to our agreed meeting places as they were ahead of schedule and needed to get the renewal ceremony done. They were on a mission to get to the airport for their flight to Auckland. I asked if they had enjoyed their time in our great country. They told me they had a lovely time and loved New Zealand and had experienced many changes of weather. I told them that we often said you can get four seasons in one day here in Canterbury so you needed to be prepared.
So back to the lovely couple – yes married for 50 years. They were still in love and as happy as when they married. They went to the same school and although they didn’t say so, I am thinking they were childhood sweethearts. They now have 3 children and 1 grandchild. Both had open heart surgery last year and the surgeon, they said was the best! They told me he was from Australia.
My directions were to do a renewal certificate for signing and put together a “simple no-fuss ceremony”. I read out “Good relationships never stop growing. Like fine wine, they get better with age. Jerry and Sherry, you have now been married for 50 years and through all the years of your journey together, you have come here to renew your vows of commitment and love for each other”.
It was very significant for them to have the ruined Christchurch Cathedral in the background for this little renewal ceremony as they were married in the Cathedral back home in Christchurch, Houston.
And so with the Cathedral in Christchurch NZ behind us – they again pledged to each other to live together in marriage and sealed their promise with a kiss. We signed the documents and shared this blessing:
“May the sun bring you new energy by day,
May the moon softly restore you by night?
May the rain wash away your worries?
And the breeze blow new strength into your being.
And all the days of your life may you walk.
Gently through the world and know its beauty.”
Congratulations to you Jerry and Sherry Ritcheson, bless you both!