Monday, May 30, 2016

Passion for what is Good and Right and Just

Sunday evening, Father Tony O’Donovan and I co-officiated Lacey and Zach’s wedding ceremony at the home of Lacey’s grandparents in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Lacey and Zach don't use these words, but allow me to: These two are deep thinkers and spiritual thinkers. It is important to clarify what this does not mean: As they grew into their own, they found little use for sectarian dogma. Instead, listen to Lacey's words, which could have been written by Zach too: "I can sum up my spiritual beliefs as, 'we live for each other.' All that matters is how you treat, help, and care for others. ​I don’t believe that there is a 'right' religion. As my father describes it, 'there are infinite paths to Heaven…'”

And being deep thinkers often means, that you know you don't have the answers, and you are OK with that. Now, listen to Zach's words, which could have been written by Lacey too: "A constant theme throughout my life has been trying to come to a spiritual understanding of the world given my current set of experiences, and not letting my lack of complete understanding frustrate me. I don’t have any answers, I don’t think anybody truly does..."

Our shared traditions actually encourage this. One of the first acts of the mythical father of our faiths, Abraham, is stand before God and passionately and directly question him. We are told very few things about Abraham's life, and so the fact that the Bible devotes significant verbal "real estate" to this is meant to remind us that this is as a profoundly religious act.

There is, however, an important correlate to this. Spiritual contemplation and deep thinking, even profound questioning, are not sufficient. They can and must move us to act. Now, if you go back to the Abrahamic legend, he is actually challenging God's judgment on an issue of social justice. Basically, he is acting as an attorney. (Maybe, that is why lawyer is #2 on the Jewish Mother MVP - most valuable profession - list...) Interestingly, this is what caused Lacey to go into law: "Before going to law school, I volunteered at Catholic Charities of Dallas Immigration and Legal Services. I wanted to work on the cases that others avoided. The work was rewarding but frustrating. Often people who had suffered tremendously couldn’t get a visa because of a technicality and there was nothing I could do. I decided that I would have the best opportunity to challenge unjust policies as a lawyer.”

Now, though Zach is reluctant to say this himself, from Lacey's description, the way that he approaches medicine (#1 on the above Jewish Mother MVP list) is the same way she approaches law. (I adjusted this quote a little because - I am not making this up - the Counselor here wrote it in bullet points...) It is all about doing the right thing, and helping others: "He is meticulous in always doing the right thing. He always pushes himself to make the right choice, not the easy choice. He is compassionate. He takes incredible care of his patients.... He calmly handled a medical emergency on a plane during a 7 a.m. flight about a month after he graduated medical school!"
This mutual commitment to and passion for what is good and right and just, is a great source for their mutual love. As Lacey says, again in words Zach mirrors back to her regularly in word and deed, "I want to marry Zach now because he infinitely enriches my life. He has made me happier than I ever thought possible and is a better person than I thought I would ever meet."

This is why Zach speaks for both of them, when says, "I could no longer imagine spending a day of my life without her companionship. I don’t know how love exists or how it fits in the world.  Those questions don’t bother me anymore. Nothing bothers me when I hold her."

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