Monday, July 26, 2010

A Painting and a Pencil Sketch

Here are the words I shared with everyone at the wedding of Adriana and Andrew in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, just two weeks ago:

The idea that I can and should learn from my couples is just one of the reasons that I meet with every couple three or four times before their wedding, and ask each partner to write a short essay about him or herself. That said, this is the first wedding in more than 65 in the last two years or so, where the bride wrote something so beautiful that I just had to include it verbatim in my remarks.

One thing that struck me from my very first discussion with Adriana and Andrew is that really the phrase “interfaith couple” did not fit the bill with regards to this couple, just as it does not fit many of the couples I work with. “Intercultural couple” may be a more apt term. Certainly Adriana and Andrew each started out at different points, but through their own personal journeys, and their journey together, it is well evident that they have reached a place, where they have more in common in terms of faith and belief, than many other couples out there. This is not due to coincidence, rather this is due to the fact that they have each chosen to really think and grow in this area. This also does not mean they reject their respective heritages, rather they have chosen to build on those heritages, and to examine their lives spiritually, figure out who they are, and what they want as individuals and as a couple.

In the words of the bride, “I like to think of my religious and spiritual life as a beautiful painting. In the best art and true life paintings or drawings, there is rarely ever a solid line that separates the colors or shapes; everything needs to blend together. Colors use a change of tone or texture, sometimes bumping right up together - they're never separated. And yet, when the artist began their work of art, it started as a pencil sketch; nothing but lines. In my life those lines were drawn for me by religion, as it was taught to my mom and how she tried to teach it to me, but I've since fleshed it out, and while it was an excellent guide, and anyone who knows me can see the evidence of those lines, they've transformed to my own sense of spirituality.”

Adriana and Andrew, there is to me a very important lesson in this for all of us. We have very limited control over our circumstances in life. We cannot choose to whom we are born, what our physical features will be, or where we will grow up. We do, however, have control over how we choose to relate to our circumstances in life. In other words, we cannot choose our fate, but we can choose our destiny. We can and should choose to think and contemplate and develop, and never stop growing for even one instant. Adriana and Andrew, thank you for teaching us this important lesson. Hold on to that. Wake up every morning, and look into each other’s eyes with the resolve to continue to grow and build your lives build together, and I have no doubt, your bond will remain unbreakable.