Saturday afternoon (1/28), I officiated Amanda and Carl’s wedding ceremony at the Barr Mansion in Austin, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:
Amanda describes how she and Carl first met: “Carl and I met through a social kickball league. When I moved to Austin for graduate school, I really did not know anyone, so I decided to join the league to try and expand my social circle. We talked briefly at the first game and then again for a bit longer at the bar after the game. Personally, I thought we had hit it off that night, but when it was time to go our separate ways, Carl just waved goodbye and walked away without so much as a second glance.” Oh, boy…
Now, if you guessed that that was not the end of the story, congratulations, Sherlock. We are, after all, here at their wedding. Perhaps, being in graduate school, Amanda was inclined towards allowing make-up work if submitted within a reasonable time. Amanda continues, “A couple of weeks later… we had our next game and spent some more time talking and getting to know each other, and I was introduced to Carl’s cat, Ellie (who is now one of my two fur babies). After that was when things officially came together…”
Now, I assume most of you grew up in this country, so unlike me, reading that your first question was not, what on earth is kickball? Americans may have too many sports. I grew up in Israel, where we mostly kick a ball around for 90 minutes and occasionally into a goal, but that’s about it. For some reason, someone in America decided that that is all fine and good, but what if we made that more complicated and more like baseball? I don’t know why.
Having also lived in King Charles III's realm, I discovered a fascinating sports factoid. When His Majesty’s subjects gather to compete, they call what they do not a game but a test. That seems more appropriate because if you have seen how they treat their sports, they are not playing around.
The idea of a test is one of the oldest ideas known to humans, showing up several times in the Epic of Gilgamesh, for instance. The Ancient Rabbis contend that God tested Abraham ten times and that he passed every one of them. Then they proceed to endlessly argue what those ten tests were, of course, because, as they say, two Jews, three opinions.
Now, you might ask, why does God, who knows the future, need to test Abraham? However, this fundamentally misconstrues the Rabbis’ idea. Tests are meant not to show the deity if we can pass them, but to discover for ourselves if we can withstand them. They are a vehicle through which we can prove our character not to the deity but to ourselves. And these tests make us better and stronger as individuals and as couples.
We have all experienced this in a fashion so intense that, pre-March 2020 none of us could have imagined. Our relationships have been tested, even forged by our collective experience. As Carl succinctly puts it, “If we could live together successfully through all the nonsense that occurred through the past years, I’m confident it will be a successful partnership.”
Amanda elaborates on how these experiences have forged a wonderful partnership of learning and personal development: “Carl makes me better, or want to be better, in almost every area of my life… I do the same for him. He… challenges me and encourages me to think critically and explore ideas and different avenues I wouldn’t have otherwise given a second thought… We have both grown… both individually and as a couple… We know what we want and what we need and are ready for those next steps of building a life and a family together.”