My grandma and grandpa just celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. More than six decades ago, they got married in a simple ceremony on a Tuesday morning—just as soon as they could after Grandpa returned from the war.
I’ve long admired the photograph of my grandmother, beautiful and wide-eyed in her elegant silk gown. But it wasn’t until recently that I heard the story of the dress.
Apparently, since silk was needed overseas for the war effort, it was an extremely hard to come by in the 1940s. But my grandmother, spunky woman that she is, remained undeterred as she planned her wedding. She wrote a letter to her fiancé—my grandfather—requesting that he send a used parachute from Europe so she could have it made into a dress.
Sure enough, the package of white silk arrived, and under the seamstress’s deft fingertips, the object that was once a symbol of war and tragedy was transformed into something new and beautiful.
Nothing would erase the things Grandpa experienced in the war—the deaths he felt responsible for, the buddies who didn’t make it, the missions he shouldn’t have returned from. And nothing would take away the pain of Grandma’s years of waiting as she worried and prayed over his safe return.
God didn’t magically take all that pain away. But somehow all those memories got stitched together into the fabric of the silk parachute as they began their new life together. The token of what had separated them was transformed into a resplendent dress, now a tangible sign of their love.
Isn’t that what God does too? He takes the cross—the ultimate object of sin and punishment and death—and transforms it into a symbol of hope and reconciliation and new life. He takes our tragedies and failures—the very things that once separated us from him—and transforms them into a beautiful garment for us to wear. A garment he calls grace.
Note: After my grandmother wore this dress, she handed it down to her daughter and then her granddaughter for them to wear at their own weddings. For more about this story, including photos of the dress over the next two generations, check out the write-up in the Daily Herald.