Jun 17, 2018

Land, Sea and Sky: There is Love

June 17, 1972
Forty-six years ago, my husband and I were married at the "Shrine of St. Therese", the northern most National Catholic shrine in the U.S.

Located on a tiny forested island now joined by a causeway to the mainland Auke Bay, about 25 miles north of Juneau, Alaska and my childhood home on Douglas Island.

It is a dear little church built in honor of the lesser known Saint Thérèse of Liseux, France,  known  and loved as "the little flower."

The natural setting of trees, ferns, and mosses with native plants and flowers creates a lovely communion of man-made artistry and the sanctity of spirit expressed in the union with nature.

Its winding stations of the cross circle the around the tiny island with views of sand, sea, and sky that unite the man made world with the natural one in rustic harmony. 

Today, a beautiful labyrinth has been added and is walked by thousands of people a year who come out to view the beauty and feel the incredible energies of spirit that fill land, sea, and sky as animals gather without fail as blessings for all.

When the tide is in, the entire island is surrounded by beautiful blue water, except for the narrow  'walking-only' causeway.

In 1972, we walked out from our wedding ceremony to the sight of eagles soaring above, whales spouting, and sea lions barking their congratulations. It was incredibly beautiful. 

Pathways and memories etched in the sand where we once walked to the log cabin rectory on the mainland to sign our marriage certificate. And yes, we've been back and it's still lovely and weddings are still held there. 

 I made my own wedding dress from layers of lace, silk chiffon and satin and each of my bridesmaids made theirs from fabric I bought and sent each of them in three different states as I gathered my best friends from Juneau-Douglas High School and Oregon State University to be Maid and Matron of Honor, and included my youngest cousin who was so happy to be my beautiful  Junior Bridesmaid and another close cousin's 5 year old son to be my precious ring bearer.

Our dresses were soft candle light ivory, pale yellow, soft green and dusty apricot and were beautiful laces over satin, I even made my veil, covered my Bible with the same fabrics and carried a hand carved rose wood rosary. 

A local friend from Douglas made our 5 tiered cake, another dear friend cut it, another did our guest book, and a friend sang and played folk songs on his guitar. Friends and relatives and guests helped with homemade dishes and Alaskan specialties knowing that our family home was just recently re-built after a devastating housefire had destroyed it.

Handmade wedding in so many ways and every item made with heart and hands and filled with so much help and love. 

Ah, the memories of a time, a place, the sounds, and the people. So many have passed on now, most of our guests, many of my own family even several who were younger then than I am now. 

My beloved uncle, Robert Savikko, lost at sea during a moose hunting trip, died just 3 months later, never to be seen again. His family and mine as close as two families could be. Cousins from Louisiana marrying brothers from Alaska after WWII when Alaska was still seen as an almost imaginary place of Eskimos and igloo.

Now, anniversaries merged with memories of two brothers as fathers now gone on Father's  Day. But oh, the joy! My father walking me down the aisle,  his brother,
my Uncle Bobby beaming.

Each so happy, showing, sharing, and so expressed that day, as they watched daughters...one a bride, one an 11 year old junior bridesmaid.  In her long dress of light aprocot laces and satin, it was as close to her being bridal as he would ever see. It brings tears to my eyes even today to remember his face and that of his brother, my dad, as each shared pride and joy in their only daughter's places in memory that day. 

You never know what paths and cause ways you may walk in your life time. Who you will love and who you will remember. I have since lost both of my parents, a sister in law who was there, and and many beloved friends. 

Our dearest and best friends in the world passed away ..on this day..21 years ago. While it changed the memories of June 17th forever from our 25th anniversary on, it didn't change the love we felt for all who have been parts of our lives for whatever time we had with them.

Love and loss, sunshine and shadows.  The more we have loved, the greater the memories, the harder the loss. But oh, the love makes it all worth it all. For always, always, there is love.

During our ceremony "The Wedding Song (There is Love)" by Peter, Paul, and Mary was sung and played on a folk guitar by a high school friend and at our reception a lot of Simon and Garfield and similar songs from that era. Somehow those beautiful songs filled hearts and souls as they were after all so lovely and new to all of us back then! 

46 years from June 17, 1972 the song is just as meaningful and beautiful as ever.

🌺 🎵 🌺



Joyce Carter said...

Happy anniversary Michelle. I wish you and your husband much love and joy in the coming years. And I hope you have many, many more years together.
That place is so beautiful and you have lots of good memories to share. Thank you for sharing them with us today.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Thank you, so very much, Joyce. That means so much.

Shelina (formerly known as Shasta) said...

Happy anniversary Michele!

WoolenSails said...

What a beautiful place for a wedding and such beautiful memories of that day.
Happy Anniversary and may you both be blessed with many more years together. We celebrate our 43, this week.


Michele Bilyeu said...

Thank you, Shasta! Love your 20 minutes of fun you've been having.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Debbie, every time we go back I feel so lucky and blessed and amazingly grateful for those that built it by hand 70 years ago! And a great big congratulations to you for 43 years! That's just wonderful 💜

June said...

Thank you for sharing these memories of a truly beautiful event in an amazing setting.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Thank you, June! Lovely to hear from you.

O'Quilts said...

You are so right...love makes it all worth the pain ...This is a lovely tribute. Love...shown right here in your blog..every time you post.