Last night, Saturday 10/26, I officiated Lauren and Yoni's Jewish-Quaker wedding ceremony at Terrell House in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:
One of the most important concepts that the great Quaker educator, Parker Palmer, speaks of and writes about at length, is one that Lauren and Yoni really live by, having an open heart. An open heart, says Palmer, causes us and calls us to learn a new set of habits of the heart. It calls us to be fully open, fully engaged, fully invested in the world. Sounds like this couple, right?
Now, Palmer reminds us that the heart, to the ancients, symbolized not just emotion, but wisdom too. So, having an open heart means being joyously open to new experiences that bring with them new learning, and supporting each other in the learning process. This is something Lauren most treasures in Yoni. She tells us that, "He is the most easygoing guy I’ve ever met, and willing to try anything once. In our years together, we’ve had many great adventures, from swimming with wild ponies in Virginia, to skydiving, to skiing in New Hampshire and swimming with sharks in the Dominican Republic. It’s great to know that I have someone who will travel with me anywhere, and someone who will make whatever we’re doing fun." Yoni, in turn, says that it is Lauren who inspires his openness and light heartedness, "Her whimsical spirit keeps me lighthearted and her fearlessness inspires me to be bold. Lauren taught me to ski while she went downhill backwards, and in many ways I feel that she is still helping me learn to keep myself upright when left to my own devices I might fall."
Palmer reminds us that having an open heart means that we quietly listen to what Quakers call the Inner Light, and Jewish mystics call the Sparks of Light that inhabit us and the rest of creation. When we quietly listen, we become kinder, more loving and more accepting of others. This is what makes Yoni, in the words of Lauren, "the most accepting person I know, (who) I learn from everyday." This is what makes Lauren, in the words of Yoni, an “inspiration for her kindness to those in need." This is what Lauren speaks of when she tells us this about Yoni: "He has opened my world to love and dedication I could have never imagined," And Yoni says it was actually Lauren, who made him vastly more confident in himself and in his ability to love, than he was before he met her.
Lauren and Yoni, thank you for inspiring us. May you continue to serve for your friends as a true example of how to live a full and joyous life, through true open hearted engagement with the world and all who inhabit it, with the acceptance, kindness and love, that come from a truly open heart.