Sunday, January 22, 2017

Oriented towards Action

Saturday evening I officiated Jennifer and Alex’s wedding ceremony at the Nizuc Resort and Spa, in Cancun, Mexico. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Jennifer and Alex's shared traditions put an emphasis on action. Thoughts are important, words are important, but action reigns supreme. This is an idea both Jennifer and Alex wholeheartedly endorse.

In fact, when Jennifer tells of her early life and how she was raised, this idea is central: "My childhood was filled with a lot of love and some challenges but through it all, we made it together as a family. My parents through their actions, hard work and dedication, really taught me the meaning of gratitude, generosity and love."
It is fitting, therefore, that their relationship was born (excuse the pun) through action. No, I don't mean through an actual birthing process. (Why would you think that?!) No, through actually working together. Listen to Alex: "Jennifer approached me with an idea to help me market my practice... She... is very socially connected in the community and it was a great opportunity... So we started working together doing educational and marketing events. As time passed we developed a chemistry that was very strong and undeniable. It felt as if we had been together for 30 years and I quickly realized this was meant to be.”

The Ancient Rabbis, being so oriented towards action, actually ask a fascinating question about marriage: What mitzvah or commandment does one fulfill in the course of being married? Their answer is, the commandment to love your fellow human as yourself. Now, at first blush, that might seem perplexing. Love is an emotion, not an action, isn't it? Well, yes, but it is very connected to action, as in order to last it requires work.

Actually, one of the pleasures of working with couples who are more seasoned (don't call us old) is that they have some experience in life. They have been around the block once or twice. And so, many of them not only know that marriage needs work; they celebrate that! That is what makes marriage worth it. As Jennifer says, "We work at our relationship everyday through the great and not so great and we always end up with a great amount of love for each other."

Now, the commandment to love your fellow human as yourself is very apt for marriage in another sense too. When I was a kid, I was only allowed to watch two TV programs, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. I can't remember which of these programs explained true love, but the explanation itself stuck with me. They explained that you know you are truly in love, when the other person's happiness is more important to you than your own. Wow. Profound, yet simple.

Now, admittedly, sometimes we need life's events to cause us to reflect and remind us to act. As Alex wisely says, "Certain events in our lives put things into perspective... (and help us) do (the) right thing..." Unfortunately, we are not always able to drive, so we can act on that perspective. That was Alex's particular predicament a few months ago.

"So," he continues, "I had my cousin secretly pick me up and asked her to take me to buy Jennifer's ring... I chose to simply have the entire family over to our place on her birthday to celebrate not only her birthday but to be witness to my proposal to her... I think she appreciated it more than the traditional romantic dinner for two... I can only hope our wedding day and our future is as happy, joyous and enjoyable." Well, Jennifer and Alex, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we not only share what that hope. We are confident it will come to fruition.

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