May the spirt of the season — and family — be in all of us – By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD in Toronto Sun

This is the time for family — for looking back on what truly matters.

The highlight of my year was the wedding of my son, Paul to his long-time girlfriend, the beautiful and charming Aysha.

Paul and Aysha met in their undergrad years at Queen’s.

Their wedding was very Canadian — a combination of cultures and traditions.

Aysha’s mom and dad, Yasmin and Amin, live in London, Ont. They’re Ismailis who came to Canada from east Africa and whose spiritual leader is the Aga Khan.

As a group, Ismailis are entrepreneurial, successful and have contributed enormously to this country.

In their tradition, a wedding lasts several days — with henna painting, a gorgeous evening celebrating Indian culture, and the wedding in a mosque the next day.

Amin and Yasmin were incredibly generous and welcoming to our family.

They explained that for them, a wedding is a business contract, not a religious ceremony.

Like so many cross-cultural weddings, we meshed our Anglican traditions with the Ismaili ones — and ended up with a lovely mix.

We had an elegant reading from the Qur’an that spoke about the universality of faith.

The message was that we are all one humanity, created by one God, whatever name we may call him.

My son, for his part, chose that beautiful passage from Corinthians:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am but a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”

It was all eloquent and meaningful and it made me realize how much people lose when they use religion as a barrier rather than as a hand of friendship.

Weddings make you take stock of your life.

Friends and family get together for a great celebration.

Paul’s old school friends arrived from around the world.

It touched my heart to see how they had grown and what paths they had taken.

One friend is doing ground-breaking cancer research in B.C. Ironically, she makes so little money doing such vital work that she could barely afford to come in for the wedding.

If only she were a hockey player or an eHealth consultant, think how much more we’d value her work.

Another friend, a Reformation scholar in the U.K, was picked to read the Bible passage. When I fussed about which version I wanted him to use, he calmly gave me the full history of the translation.

Yes, the kids are all right. We agonized about them growing up with values in an often valueless society.

Somehow, they’ve worked it out in a way that is far more generous and inclusive than we did.

My wish for Christmas is that we all learn to get along. It isn’t that difficult.

Ironically, Paul and Aysha’s wedding came just a week after Florida pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn the Qur’an and ignite a frenzy of intolerance around the world.

My friends who came to the wedding laughed at his stupidity — and pointed out that there were more people at this one happy wedding than Jones had in his entire spiteful congregation.

He spoke only of hate.

Paul and Aysha’s ceremony spoke only of love and conciliation.

And it spoke of hope for the future — where, in the words of the old hymn, love will “tread out the baleful fire of anger — and in its ashes plant the tree of peace.”

I have so much to celebrate.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May your new year be blessed with as much love and joy as I shared with my family this year.

Source: Toronto Sun com


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