There are few things in life as satisfying as knowing that you have played a role in a successful match. When you think about it, the happiest moments in any day often involve some type of matching – matching hunger with food; matching thirst with drink; matching just about any need with an available resource. I have become keenly aware of how exciting it is to put needs and resources together. In fact I think some day I might write a book about the matchmaker’s secret to a happy life. Last weekend I had the opportunity to celebrate the most marvelous kind of match one could ever hope to be part of – that is, the matching of two souls. The wedding celebration had a particular significance for me because I had a role in introducing Allan and Winnie.
With the couple’s permission, I am sharing on this blog some of the comments I made at their reception. These comments sound more like I was writing a reference letter than giving a roasting! And in fact I have written a letter or two for this pair in the past year – but actually my glowing endorsements stem from the fact that no one can think of anything but great things to say about them. A few people have asked me how I knew that these two would make a good couple. As it turns out, the clue was that Allan and Winnie share some important character traits.
The first thing I realized that they share is faith. I knew of Allan’s faith through the terrific discussions we’ve had at Community Mennonite Church. What I’ve appreciated about Allan’s faith is that he displays it pragmatically, creatively and without pretence. Winnie and I have had less opportunity to discuss her convictions but I have always been aware her faith because her godly character is so obvious and irrepressible. There are some people who show their faith in a way that just makes the rest of us feel guilty. Then there are others who live out their faith in a way that inspires us to know God better and to be our best selves. The latter style is the way that both Winnie & Allan inspire me.
The second trait that these two share in common is hope. I have had the opportunity of seeing Allan’s hope in action over the last year or so as we have worked together on some political initiatives. Allan’s political interests derive from his firm hope that he and his colleagues can help to build communities that are more fair, generous and compassionate. Winnie shows hope in her work every day. I work with some pretty exceptional young physicians. But even her peers will say that Winnie stands out among them for her determination to prepare herself for a career of service. Her motivation to serve is rooted in hope – hope that through her work she can help others to enjoy life in a healthy and meaningful way.
And finally, they clearly share the trait of love. Anyone who ever listened to Allan’s crooning love songs would know about his capacity to care. But most of us know that his giant heart of compassion reaches far beyond the romantic melodies he has penned. His love for people of all walks of life is evident in his choice of work, his studies and even his hobbies. It is in this characteristic loving nature that I could most clearly see that he was a match for Winnie. Just as Allan is a songwriter, Winnie is also a writer. She doesn’t write lyrics for songs but she writes beautiful medical narratives about her experiences in the area of health and healing. In fact she won an award this year for her work in narrative writing. And it seems to me that in her case as well, the urge to be a writer is an expression of an inclination to love people. My colleagues and I had a great glimpse of Winnie’s compassionate nature when she started sharing narrative reflections about her medical work in Sioux Lookout. Winnie really cares about people – not just her friends and colleagues but about everyone who crosses her path and even people she has never met.
So there you have the core traits that define these two exceptional individuals: faith, hope & love & it has been said that the greatest of these is love. It didn’t take long once I’d had the privilege of knowing these two big-hearted people to realize that they had a lot in common. And once they were introduced, it didn’t take Winnie and Allan long to confirm my intuitions about their potential for a special relationship.
I’ve been told by people of diverse cultural backgrounds that the position of matchmaker is an honourable one is society. In this case, I could not be happier to have acted on my matchmaking instincts!