This past Saturday I was privileged to officiate the wedding of Jessica and Matthew in Ludlow, Massachusetts. Ludlow is a fascinating New England town, where about 50% of the residents are Portuguese, and that language is quite prevalent on the street. I co-officiated with Father Vitor Oliveira at Our Lady of Fatima Church, which has one of the most ornate sanctuaries I have ever seen. The centerpiece, if you will, is a spectacular mosaic mural of the woman (as a young girl and as an elderly nun), who Catholics believe had visions of the Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal about a century ago. Here are the personal remarks I shared with the couple. (One little bit of information you need to understand the remarks is the bride’s family name – Vital.)
During the process of preparing for a wedding, I have every person I officiate for write a short autobiographical essay. This helps me get to know the couple, and really personalize my remarks. What struck me in the essays this couple wrote is the idea they share the feeling that they were made for each other. Jessica writes, “When it comes to marriage, I am a firm believer that every individual has another person on this planet that they are meant to be with.” Matthew writes similarly, “I feel like when I was born someone upstairs cut out a 5’7 smart, funny, down to earth beauty just for me.”
Now, I have not known the couple for long, but that made me scratch my head for a second. I mean, after all, these are two very different people. If all you knew was just what they did for a living, you would know that already. One is a pharmacist, and one an advertising executive. These are two strikingly different professions, that demand very different types of thinking and operation. Throw in the differences in background, culture and faith, and the question just increases. What is the secret of their love?
Then I thought about it in a deeper fashion, and it all made sense to me. If we are to imagine that there is someone out there that would be made just for us, why on earth would that person be like us? After all, each of us has strengths and weaknesses, and if anything, that person, who is made for us, ideally should help us, as we help them become mutually complete. In that sense, that person would almost have to be very different.
A very interesting subset of mystical Jewish Thought takes this further – the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria. The chief expounder of these ideas was, Rabbi Chayim Vital, who lived in the 16th Century, and who, you really can’t make this stuff up, also wrote a book about pharmaceutical remedies of his day! Rabbi Vital’s mystical teachings talk about everything in our world emanating from, coming from within the deity. Therefore, if there are males and females in our world, the deity itself is made up of these different male and female aspects. If there are different qualities in different people, they all emanate from within the deity, and come together as one within the deity. When we, in turn, find that special someone, who is our counterpart, that soul mate who makes us complete, we become in a sense, Godly, divine.
So, Jessica and Matthew, thank you. Thank you for reminding us just how special it is to find that soul mate who makes each of us truly complete. Hold on to that. Now look into each other’s eyes. As the years go by, make sure you take a moment here and there to stop and look into each other’s eyes like you are now, and wherever you are, whatever is going on in your life, say to yourself, say to each other, “You make me whole. Being with you is quite simply divine.”