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    My wife and I are entering the next phase of life.  The nestlings are getting their wings and moving out, starting homes and families of their own.  My second daughter, Amy, will be home this month from Liberty University and we’ll commence working on her wedding, slated for July 26th – preparing all the decorations and flowers and whatever other paraphernalia accompanies such a glorious event.

    I offered to assist in the choosing of the wedding dress, and spent some time perusing online dress catalogs with Amy.  It was all very exciting, but I found that all of the dresses looked the same: white.  Amy did not find my perception helpful.  She wanted me to observe the crucial distinctions between cream, champagne and ivory.  I failed not only at this, but at perceiving distinctions between various fabrics, designs and accoutrements – all of those highly complex and evasive mysteries of the highly complex and evasively mysterious feminine world – and so I wasn’t invited to go along for the actual dress shopping.  I stayed home and soothed my wounded soul by watching a game and eating chips and salsa, I think, all the while going out of my mind wondering what the dress would look like, and all the while knowing it would be…white.  After a few minutes I got over the rejection, and settled back into my old comfortable and well-suited role of “pack mule”.

    Yes, I am a pack mule….the family pack mule.  I’m not complaining.  Just stating the facts.  I love and enjoy the role.  I’m a happy pack mule!  The pack mule is not the center of attention, not the focus of every eye and every whisper, not a thing of beauty to be beheld or commented upon (though one thoughtful congregant upon seeing me in a tuxedo, said, shocked: “Wow!  You clean up pretty nice, don’t you?”).  No, friends, the pack mule isn’t a show horse.  He’s there before the show, getting dirty behind the scenes.  The pack mule bears the burdens quietly and patiently.  He takes whatever load is placed upon him and pulls it.  He takes joy in pulling and carrying.  He pulls until he’s told to stop.  He gets the job done.  It’s not the pack mule’s to worry about the destination or the end result.  He doesn’t have to know why he’s carrying what he’s carrying, or what it’s going to be used for.  That’s high-minded weighty stuff – someone else’s business.  Never mind all those technicalities.  Don’t trouble me with details.  Put the load on there, tell me which direction to head, and let me pull.  Throw me some oats now and then, and some water, and an occasional rest to get my breath, but let me pull.

    Pack mules don’t say much;  they are actually pretty reluctant to speak (the Bible mentions one pack mule saying something one time, I think), but I have just a brief word to share regarding this upcoming wedding.  Many of you have walked the Christian pilgrimage with my wife and me and our children for 10, 15, 20 and some of you for 25 years.  We’ve shared joy and tears and disappointments and victories.  We’ve grown to be friends at various levels, depending on how intimately our lives intersected.  In the past five years that circle of friends has expanded with all of the wonderful new faces at MVC;  some of you are still just acquaintances, and some have become good friends already.  We love you all, and we invite you all to share the joy of Ben & Amy’s wedding, but if we don’t limit the number of guests invited to the reception, the pack mule is going to collapse under the burden and end up shipped off to the glue factory!  Just mine and my wife’s families are a party in our own right (almost 70 people), but we thought it would be really nice to invite the groom’s family to the reception as well.  Accommodating 500 MVC’er’s beyond that is just an impossibility for us, so one of the more difficult and unpleasant tasks of wedding preparation for both the bride’s and the groom’s families has been the trimming of the guest list.  I speak for our family and the Galaskas' when I say that we’d all like to have EVERYBODY there, but we just cannot do it.  If you don’t receive an invitation to the reception, I trust that your feelings won’t be hurt excruciatingly, that you’ll understand there is no animosity intended and I’d kindly beg the indulgence of your patience and understanding for a middle-aged happy pack mule.

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