Sunday, August 19, 2012

Through Love We Transcend Ourselves

This last Saturday I co-officiated Veronica and Chris' wedding in Lubbock, Texas with Pastor Don Kinder. Here are the remarks I shared with them:

I ask each person I marry to write an essay about him or herself. This enables me to get to know the person a little better, and say something really meaningful at this point. Veronica opened her essay with a fascinating story. She tells how as a teen she suffered a loss of faith, and then regained it. Here is how (listen to this; this is gold):

"I was in temple for my confirmation class, it was the last meeting, and our Rabbi asked us to just sit in the synagogue and reflect on what we have learned. There are no words to explain what happened. All I can tell you is that this feeling of comfort and security came over me... And in my heart, it was as if God was telling me everything was going to be okay. It was from that point on that my spiritual and religious connection to God came back."

Across cultures and generations, across religions, and even amongst non-theists, people have related similar experiences. So much so, that the great French sociologist, Emille Durkheim, called our species, Homo Duplex. He said that we each have two levels of experience, the day to day level of the profane, and those moments, where we experience the sacred, those moments, that we call spiritual experiences, be they of a theistic nature or a non-theistic nature.

I was introduced me to this idea in a podcast of lecture I saw given by Jonathan Haidt, a sociologist of religion. Haidt says that invariably, when we experience the sacred, when we transcend the ordinary, we transcend ourselves, and feel part of something greater. I feel that the most basic unit of that something greater is a couple truly and deeply in love. You hear this in how Veronica describes her first encounters with Chris, "The moment our hands touched I knew he was the one." Then after eight months, "We ended up talking for hours. I felt like I have known him my whole life." Chris elaborates on this concept too. He says that he was looking for that woman, with whom he could have a deeper connection, and that that is what he found in Veronica. So much so that, whenever he was not around Veronica he says he, "came back to the feeling of emptiness... Then when we would be back together I felt whole."

Veronica and Chris, you illuminate a great truth here. Through love we can transcend ourselves, through unity with a loved one we can rise above the ordinary, and touch the sacred. May you continue to experience this today, tomorrow and always.

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