Monday, April 22, 2013

Following Your Dreams

Yesterday, Sunday 4/21, Kahu (Hawaiian for Reverend) Curt Kekuna and I co-officiated Rebekah and Carlos' wedding ceremony in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

One of the things we take for granted in developed societies is the idea of following your dreams. Our ancestors for 99% of the existence of our species may have had dreams; we cannot interview them to find out. However, we may legitimately doubt that on the African Savannah, as they hunted and gathered every day, they could even think of following dreams like the ones we have today. Occasions like this one, of two individuals, deeply in love, consummating their dreams together remind us how blessed we are indeed, compared to our distant forebears.

Now, there is a downside to following your dreams. Some see the dream as a fixed destination that they need to reach within an allotted time. Kierkegaard said of this approach that wrong expectations are the key to unhappiness. Rebekah and Carlos in their stories as individuals and as a couple show us a different way.

Following your dreams means being willing to tune and reconfigure them regularly. Following your dreams means seeing them as a journey, not a destination. Following your dreams means seeing them as living and breathing, growing and changing. In essence, what Rebekah and Carlos are telling us is that following your dreams really means seeing them as an unfinished and ongoing love story.

It is a story that you don't fully understand till you reach the end of the story. And, as anyone who knows Rebekah and Carlos can tell you that is what makes their story visibly exciting, exhilarating and wonderful. So now, without further ado, let us help them begin the next chapter in their ongoing story.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Profound Oneness

Yesterday, Sunday 4/14, I officiated Shannon and Cory's wedding ceremony at the Barr Mansion in Austin, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Describing, quantifying, defining love is so difficult. Shannon and Cory can help us with this, though. The way they describe their love is at the same time simple and profound. Listen to this; this is gold.

Cory says, "I have never been in love until I met Shannon. I thought I was, but now I know what true love is." Shannon echoes this, when she says, "I’ve never connected with anyone like I have with Cory. It’s hard to explain; you just know. I guess that’s what they call love."


Reading their descriptions reminded me of one of the most beautiful things I have ever read - Sonnet XVII from Cien Sonetos de Amor by Pablo Neruda. I think this is what Shannon and Cory are trying to tell us about love:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz, or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance, risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

What Shannon and Cory are telling us, what Pablo Neruda is telling us, is that true love of a mate is so intense that it is as if you become one living and breathing entity. This is such a unique experience, that words fall short of describing it.

Shannon and Cory, what is it we wish for you? That you may continue to enjoy such a deep connection, such an abiding love, such a profound oneness, that it virtually defies description.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A River, a Pot Or a Bird

Yesterday (4/13) Deacon Jim McKenzie and I co-officiated Katie and Charles' wedding ceremony at the Benton Chapel of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

When I sat down to write the remarks for this wedding I came across a passage in the Talmud, that I had last studied about 20 years ago. The Talmud is a fascinating book, which records the discussions of the great rabbis from about 200-800 C.E. Though its main thrust is to serve as the legal foundation for Jewish Law, it contains fascinating stories and ancient lore too.

In the ancient world people saw dreams as potential signs and messages from the divine. The ancient rabbis were no exception. In the first tractate of the Talmud on folio 56b the rabbis say that if one sees a river, a pot or a bird in a dream, these are all good signs of peaceful relations in one's life.

Hundreds of years later, Rabbi Elijah of Vilnius wrote a fascinating interpretation of this passage. He said that really these three items represent three different levels of relationships. The river, to this day used to transport commercial items, represents a loose impersonal relationship, that commercial partners might have with each other. The pot, which allows the fire beneath it and the water within it to coexist and work together, symbolizes a closer personal relationship based on mutual complementary interests. Finally, the bird, in which folded into the one creature are the ability to travel by land and the ability to fly, symbolizes two people coming together in the closest of relationships, and becoming one inseparable entity.

Doesn't that final symbolism sound exactly like the relationship Katie and Charles have? During the last five years they have had some, let's just say this diplomatically, "unique" experiences. These experiences have created a bond between them that typically one does not expect to see amongst couples of their age. In fact their relationship reminded me of a story that really exemplifies what the Talmud talks about, and what Katie and Charles have. It is said of Rabbi Aryeh Levin, that he once took his wife to the doctor. When the doctor asked what the problem was, the saintly rabbi said, "We feel pain in my wife's leg." You see, Rabbi Aryeh and his wife were so in love, their relationship was so close, that when her leg was hurting, THEY, not SHE felt pain.

What we wish for you, Katie and Charles, is that you continue to experience deep mutual love and empathy, and have such a close relationship. And together, may you experience only joy, pleasure and happiness from this day forward.