I’ve had a few requests from folks for the text from our Wedding Ceremony last June. I thought I’d post it here in case I get any more! It was a beautiful weekend out on the pond with the fireflies and and tiger lilies and it makes me warm just thinking of it one more time.
HALEY: “What is REAL?” asked the velveteen Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side in the nursery. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
(from The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams)
EURA: Welcome, everyone to this lovely summer day!
We have been invited here today to share a very important moment with our friends Ben and Hope. In the years they have been together, their relationship has grown and matured, and now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife.
The following is a quote by Robert Senghas, selected by Hope and Ben:
“Each of us was brought into the world without any decision of his own; each of us was stamped with the condition of mortality from the moment of conception. And so, of the three most significant events in our lives, birth, marriage and death, it is only in marriage that we have the full power of personal decision. (pause)
In marriage the greatest courage will be required. (pause) We shall be put to the test of continuing to accept husband or wife with all defects revealed; but beyond this we shall be faced with the anguish of having to accept our own weaknesses. And this is the most difficult of all that is required of us: to accept that we are not as we should like to think we are, and that we are not as we should like the world to think we are.
But marriage also offers us the condition for the supreme fulfillment of human life: (pause) for our acceptance of our spouse with all the strengths and weaknesses, our works of love for our companion in marriage and for our children, and above all our acceptance of ourselves as we are, all these open us to receive the very ground of our being; all these bring us to the glory of existence.”
DYLAN: Let me not to the marriage of true minds
admit impediments. Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fix’d mark.
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
it is the star to every wandering bark,
whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
within his bending sickle’s compass come;
love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
but bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
(– Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare)
EURA: At this time Hope and Ben would like to symbolize their union with a tradition called the Lasso Ceremony. The Lasso is a wedding ritual in which the couple is bound together with a ceremonial rope. Lassoing is a declaration of intent, where the bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will. Ben and Hope will be bound by Ben’s mother Nancy and Hope’s mother Janice.
(Mothers place lasso in figure eight around wrists of Hope and Ben, while they are doing so, Eura continues)
Hope and Ben, with full awareness know that within this Lasso you will not only declare your intent to be bound together before your friends and family, but you will also speak that intent deeply and truly within yourselves. As you enter this state of matrimony you should strive to make real the ideals that to you, give meaning to this ceremony and to the institution of marriage.
During the years of our friendship, Hope’s thoughts about the meaning of relationships and personal growth have evolved with her exploration of Buddhism. As her relationship with Ben developed and transcended challenges, her ideals attained increased clarity. She and Ben realized that in any healthy relationship, each member’s primary thoughts center around the well-being of the other.
And so now, I think it’s an important moment to remind Hope and Ben of the attentiveness that helps maintain this compassion toward each other and toward others in their lives. Their marriage will be a vehicle, a practice ground, for extending and sustaining compassionate action and empathy in order to serve the well being of others and themselves.
Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun and one of the foremost students of Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Lama and renowned meditation master. The following advice is from Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart:
“To relate with others compassionately is a challenge. Really communicating to the heart and being there for someone else – our child, spouse, parent, client, patient, or the homeless woman on the street – means not shutting down on that person, which means, first of all, not shutting down on ourselves. This means allowing ourselves to feel what we feel and not pushing it away. Buddhist words such as compassion and emptiness don’t mean much until we start cultivating our innate ability simply to be there with pain with an open heart and the willingness not to instantly try to get ground under our feet.
For instance, if what we’re feeling is rage, we usually assume that there are only two ways to relate to it. One is to blame others. Lay it all on somebody else; drive all blames into everyone else. The other alternative is to feel guilty about our rage and blame ourselves.
Blame is a way in which we solidify ourselves. Not only do we point the finger when something is ‘wrong,’ but we also want to make things ‘right.’ In any relationship that we stick with, be it marriage or parenthood, employment, a spiritual community, or whatever, we may also find that we want to make it ‘righter’ than it is, because we’re a little nervous.
Instead of making others right or wrong, or bottling up right and wrong in ourselves, there’s a middle way, a very powerful middle way. We could see it as sitting on the razor’s edge, not falling off to the right or the left. This middle way involves not hanging on to our version so tightly. It involves keeping our hearts and minds open long enough to entertain the idea that when we make things wrong, we do it out of a desire to obtain some kind of ground or security. Equally, when we make things right, we are still trying to obtain some kind of ground or security.
Could our minds and our hearts be big enough just to hang out in that space where we’re not entirely certain about who’s right and who’s wrong? Because things are a lot more slippery and playful than that. Everything is ambiguous; everything is always shifting and changing. Could we see, hear, feel other people as they really are? It is powerful to practice this way, because we’ll find true communication can happen only in that open space.”
We’ll take a moment now for silent meditation on the significance of relationship and compassion, and give Ben and Hope a moment to consider the commitment they are making.
(Silent meditation, approx 1-2 minutes)
EURA: Ben and Hope, Do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds, cultivating compassion, generosity, trust, patience, ethics and wisdom as you age together and undergo the various ups and downs of life?
US: We do.
EURA: Recognizing that the external conditions in life will not always be smooth and that internally your own minds and emotions will sometimes get stuck in negativity, do you pledge to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help you grow, to accept yourselves, and to generate compassion for others who are suffering?
US: We do.
EURA: Do you pledge to avoid becoming narrow, closed, or opinionated, and to help each other to see various sides of situations?
US: We do.
EURA: You have declared your intent to marry and to carry out these ideals within your relationship and throughout your lives.
With the legal requirements of the State of New York having been fulfilled, and the license for their marriage being present, I must now ask of each party if they come of their own free will and accord.
Hope and Ben, do you come to this union of your own free will, and with the intention of being faithful in marriage?
US: We do.
EURA: Then let us continue.
(Mothers of the bride and groom now come forward and remove lasso. After lasso is removed, Eura continues.)
Ben, if it is your desire to become the husband of Hope, then repeat after me.
I, Benjamin, take you, Hope, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
EURA: Ben, will you promise to guide, nurture and love Stae with unfaltering devotion? Will you care for him as your own from this day forward?
BEN: I will.
EURA: Hope, if it is your desire to become the wife of Ben, then repeat after me:
I, Hope, take you, Benjamin , to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.
EURA: Hope, will you share the joys and responsibilities of Stae with Ben? Will you trust his sincerity and accept his love for Stae?
HOPE: I will.
EURA: You have chosen to exchange rings as the sign and seal of the promises you have made to one another this day. May I have the rings?
(Stae steps forward and gives Eura rings)
Ben, will you please take this ring and place it upon the third finger of Hope’s left hand, and holding her hand in yours, please repeat this promise to Hope, saying after me:
With this ring, I seal my promise to be your faithful and loving husband. I give you this ring to wear upon your hand as a symbol of our unity, love, respect, and trust.
EURA: And Hope, will you please take this ring, and place it upon the third finger of Ben’s left hand, and holding his hand in yours, please repeat this promise to Ben, saying after me:
With this ring, I seal my promise to be your faithful and loving wife. I give you this ring to wear upon your hand as a symbol of our unity, love, respect, and trust.
EURA: Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be the shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be the warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness for you,
Because now you are no longer alone.
Now you are two bodies,
Yet there is only one life set before you.
Go now to your dwelling place, to walk the ways of the world together.
And you, Stae, you too have entered this circle,
Where you will be sheltered and warmed until you are grown.
May your days be good, and long upon the earth.
(– Apache wedding blessing, with modifications)
Hope and Benjamin, you have exchanged vows and rings, and consented to marry in the presence of your family and friends. Therefore, according to the authority given to me by the State of New York, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.