A few months back we received a hand delivered rather large 8 x 10 envelope by a private messenger service. Not recognizing the return address I was at first unwilling to accept the envelope, but noting the considerable expense of the courier service, I decided to accept it.
To our amazement, it was a strikingly beautiful embossed invitation to a private wedding ceremony along with an accompanying letter describing specific instructions as to travel and lodging. The invitation was to the wedding of the year between George Clooney, the “world’s most eligible bachelor” and forgive me, People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” and the strikingly beautiful Amal Alamuddin, a noted civil rights attorney educated at Oxford and NYU Law School and former clerk for Justice Sotomayor.
Why us? I met George with his father an old friend, many years back when he was an unknown aspiring young actor. (Frankly, I was a much bigger fan of his late aunt, Rosemary Clooney, the popular singer of the 50’s.) So why us?
The accompanying letter described our pre-arranged all expenses paid travel to and lodging in a private villa in Venice. We were to provide our passport information to an intermediary who had scheduled our travel via private jet leaving and returning to Teterboro airport at a specific date and time. Information as to the wedding was private and confidential and asked that we sign a security bond insuring our willingness to comply. No other communications were required or frankly permitted.
Needless to say, we were excited at first but then began to wonder how we would fit in. While we had the requisite formal clothes required for the wedding, we began to wonder how we would interact with this elite jet set of luminaries, likely to be in attendance? While I am usually not at a loss for words and can talk to anyone, I am not a movie goer and don’t follow or really care or know about any of the new Hollywood stars. In fact, while Clooney seems to be a nice enough guy and somewhat of a philanthropist, I’ve only seen one of George’s movies on TV. And while we really love Venice, we realized we would have little time to ourselves and be somewhat confined to our designated luxurious villa with lots of strangers for 3 days. Having come up with enough reasons (or excuses), we decided that it wasn’t worth it, so we regrettably declined the invitation, although we signed the confidentiality agreement.
What would you have done if you were in our shoes? Most of our family and friends thought we were nuts for declining this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Our readings in (Matthew 22: 1-14) this week speaks of a different wedding. Jesus tells of a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son and invited everyone to attend. But they all declined. Hurt and insulted he sent his servants into the streets to collect anyone and everyone and see to it that they came to the wedding. One attendee came without being properly groomed or dressed and was thrown out.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus makes curious comments about the marriage of heaven and earth and our being prepared for the event.
OK our invitation to George Clooney’s wedding was fictitious; it was made up and, not unlike Jesus’ parables, intended to bring the question home. What would I really do? What would you do?