Sunday, May 17, 2015


Saturday night I officiated Lexie and David’s wedding ceremony at the Cabildo in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

When I was thinking of Alexis and David, I was reminded of a story. It was sometime in the 1950s, that Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, needed a new ambassador to the Soviet Union. He called upon Israel's future president, Zalman Shazar, who immediately accepted this difficult appointment. Ben Gurion warned him, "As ambassador to the Soviet Union, you need to be very quiet!" Shazar assured him this would not be a problem. Ben Gurion did not let up. "Zalman, you don't understand. As Israel's ambassador to the Soviet Union, you have to be so quiet, that the whole world hears how quiet you are!"

Now, beyond the oxymoronic humor, what is this decades old story really about, and why do I say this story reminded me of Alexis and David.

We live in a cacophonous society. Everyone is broadcasting everything 24/7. Everything is in your face, out loud and all the time. It's only natural in this environment to assume that that is where the really important work is being done.

Not so. The most important work is usually being done by rather unassuming quiet hard working folks.  Usually, they don't make a big deal out of themselves, and would be surprised if you did.

So, say if their job is to do something mind-boggling,  like make sure that multiple metal tubes flying through the sky at extremely high speeds, can do so safely, they might say, matter-of-factly, like David, that their job is just "to watch airplanes all day". That's all.

And, if they take years of their lives, and at huge expense learn how to save people, who just a few decades ago were as good as dead, they might just say, like Alexis, that they felt it was their calling to help people. It's really no big deal.

This type of quiet resilience of just doing what you are supposed to do is at the core of how Alexis and David view their connections to their faith traditions. They don't go out their and broadcast their beliefs or their questions about those beliefs. They certainly don't feel like they have to talk your ear off about them. They are totally OK with you being on a different path. In Alexis's words, they "try to lead a good, honest, ethical and compassionate lifestyle, doing good for the community and loving people." Shouldn't that be enough?

Finally, this type of quiet resilience and action over word is how they have carried out their relationship. They met through the very act of helping people as volunteer EMTs. They dated for years living apart at quite a distance. You don't hear them complaining or kvetching about that. They will just tell you how they treasured their visits with each other during that time, and how cool it will be to finally be together.

So, next time you hear about some awesome thing someone did, and the whole world needs to know about, stop. Think about David Ben Gurion's lesson, and what Alexis and David teach us. You might just learn a thing or two. In silence.

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