Saturday, June 11, 2016

Praying with Their Feet

Friday night, I officiated Romy and Tim's wedding ceremony, at Shirley Acres, in Houston, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I was reflecting on Romy and Tim's love story, which, of course, because we are in Tejas, began with Tacos. (Sorry, Patricia and Oscar, it was not empanadas...) The stories they told about each other, the way they held hands, even their body language, it all got me thinking about a fascinating idea from Genesis (the book, not the band...)

The first creation story in Genesis tells us that the human was created in the Image of God. Now, that sounds good, but especially if the God of the Hebrew Bible is non-corporeal, what does it really mean? My father, Dr. Mayer Gruber, a noted scholar of the Bible and Ancient Near East, explained about thirteen years ago, that this must be understood in the context of a forgotten practice of a few ancient monarchs. These men, seeking the constant protection of their deities, would erect statues or images of themselves in worship, and place them in temples before these deities. That way, even when they were busy, be it with the affairs of state, or entirely personal matters, they could still be seen as being present in the temple in worship.
In that context, when the author of the first creation story uses this language, he is purposefully referring to and reversing this dynamic. The God of Genesis has no desire for idle statues or images of worshippers standing in temples. Instead, He places countless images of himself, i.e. you, me and every one of us, out in the world. And the task he gives these images is to never stand idly. Rather, we are to go out, and act like He would in the world. In essence, He asks us to, in the words of my father's teacher, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, after marching with Dr. King in Selma, "to pray with our feet."

Listen to how Tim describes how Romy has prayed with her feet, with her actions, with her patience, in building a relationship with him: "Being a single dad for this long I have gotten very stuck in my ways. I want to do things how I want them and I am very protective of Jonah (both physically and emotionally). I just had some very big walls built up around both Jonah and myself. Gradually, and patiently, and tenderly, one brick at a time, Romy has helped me to tear them down and let her love both of us. It is funny how time and love can change things...”

And Romy recognized how profoundly impressive Tim was in how he led his life, working hard and caring for others, stepping up to the plate, not only when others would not, but even in instances, where no would have blamed him if he did not. Tim just kept on silently, resolutely, without fanfare, doing what needed be done, praying with his feet. "What I really liked about Tim," she says, "was that he is a down to earth type of guy... friendly, caring, a gentleman and polite. (However the) one thing I liked the most, was how he was family oriented and how he was involved in Jonah’s (life)."

Romy and Tim, continue to live your lives just this way, continue to reflect the Image of God, as reflected in Genesis, and your bond will be unbreakable.

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