Monday, October 24, 2016

You and I

Sunday evening, I officiated Dana and Daniel’s wedding ceremony at the McKinney Flour Mill in McKinney, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

One of the things that stood out to me about Dana and Daniel is their gratitude. Gratitude should never be underestimated in its importance, and conversely there is scarcely a worse quality than being ungrateful.

They both express profound gratitude for having found each other. As Dana says, "We just have so much fun being together. Everything feels easy and right." And as Daniel says, "We’ve both had pretty exciting lives, and we’ve enjoyed sharing them with each other."

They not only express gratitude for having found each other. They are profoundly grateful to their parents. As Dana says, "I grew up in a very stable and loving environment, where my curiosity was allowed to flourish...  I was and continue to be very loved, and... incredibly fortunate." And as Daniel says, "Mom and Dad were always hard at work... managing to never leave my brother or me wanting for anything.  Their work-ethic and strong wills - I tear-up just thinking of..." And, both Dana and Daniel are profoundly grateful that their families have come together and love and appreciate each other. As Daniel says in a slightly folksy turn of phrase, "Our families get along like peas and carrots!" As someone who has officiated many weddings, I will tell you, THAT is nothing to "sneeze" at.

Dana and Daniel's gratitude reminded me of one of the most meaningful readings I have ever found. It so wonderfully expresses how despite the challenges we each face, how grateful we should be for, well, just being. This small piece of prose is poetry-like, which might be surprising, since it was written by a scientist, Richard Dawkins:

"The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds..."

Dana and Daniel not only won the lottery of birth, they won the lottery of excellent parenting, the lottery of great families and the lottery of love. And so, they are utterly and profoundly grateful for this great fortune.

It is, therefore, hard not to pray that Daniel's wish for their future come true, "Perhaps one day we’ll be sitting on a porch swing - or some other fantastic cliché - and be able to look back at our life and just grin. That’s all any of us can ask."

Not a bad "ask". Not a bad "ask" at all.

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