Sunday, August 18, 2013

Perfect Words

Last night, Saturday 8/17, I officiated Rebecca and Paul's wedding at the Hotel Intercontinental in Addison, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared:
Now, I firmly believe no one becomes a rabbi, unless they like the sound of their own voice. I mean, face it, how many professions nowadays are there, where whatever you say, people sit, listen politely, and assume, based on your training, that what you are saying MUST be brilliant, perhaps holy. It's enough to make your head spin!

Seriously, though, I find the words of my couples about their love and why they wish to marry, way more interesting and inspiring, than whatever I might come up with about them. Simply put, the insights I get from couples about the eternal truths of love and marriage are many times pure gold.

Now, I mention this specifically here, because though I always base my remarks on lessons from the couple, I usually elaborate on what they said, and share my own thoughts on what I learned from them. However, when I reviewed what Rebecca and Paul wrote regarding their love for each other and their desire to marry, I decided that I was mainly going to just read what they wrote. I just found their words so perfect.

Rebecca writes:

"I could not dream of a man who could have been any more supportive and loving in tough times. That is what really matters. You want to be with someone who you enjoy having fun with and can get along with, have the same interests and be a “perfect” match, and that’s great. But, to truly know if that is your “perfect” match, you have to... go through... hard times and unhappy events, to see how strong your love really is. The hard times are what test love, and if you can come out of those stronger and more loving and supportive of one another, then you really have found your “perfect match.” That is what Paul is for me. He is my rock, my clown, my friend, my lover, my soul mate."

Paul writes:

"God blessed me when he brought Rebecca into my life, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.  I want to grow old with her, I want to have a family with her, and at the end of my life I want hers to be the last face I see and the last words I hear."

Now, THAT is brilliant, and as the kids say today, "Nuff said!"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Gifts of Love and Friendship

Yael and Ed's wedding yesterday (Wednesday 8/14) was really intimate. They moved here just recently from their homeland, France. In my personal remarks I reflected on their lives and their relationship, and how it reflects the gifts their original homeland gave their newly adopted one.

I think that Yael and Ed in their lives and in their love highlight the importance of taking chances, and embracing the freedom of adventure. They have had many different and wonderful experiences together, and through these experiences their love has blossomed and matured.

To me, as an American, this is reminiscent of the love and friendship the French people have shown  us Americans.

Had France not taken a chance on this young country in the 1770s and 1780s, there would be no United States. Had Alexis de Tocqueville not helped us understand ourselves and our identity, arguably our identity would not be fully mature. Had the French people not gifted us the Statue of Liberty, we would not have one of our great symbols of true freedom as a nation, a nation which still holds on to the adventure that is the American dream.

So, Yael and Ed, as you begin your lives as husband and wife in this new promised land, hold on to your sense of adventure, relish in your new possibilities, and may your love continue to blossom and mature with each passing day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

An Ongoing Conversation

Last night, Saturday 8/3, Pastor John Duty and I co-officiated Nicole and Nick's wedding at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Here are the remarks I shared:

I believe that anyone who knows Nicole and Nick will tell you that they "suffer" from the Lake Woebegone affect; they are both quite above average... So, there is a lot we can learn from them.

I believe that one of the areas we can learn from them is the very idea of two people coming together from different faith traditions, with different ideas about the world. You see, the most striking thing about Nicole and Nick is the fact that while they each have very distinct and different ideas about the spiritual world, they do not let that create even the slightest distance between them. Quite the opposite!

Nicole and Nick are deeply in love, so much so that in what is a mutually held description she says, "I didn’t even know that people like Nic existed to dream about." Lest you think, however,  that they are starry eyed, and just ignore and overlook their differences, let me tell you that these two are friends and intellectual soul mates in the deepest sense of those word. Not for nothing does Nick describe their relationship as, "having (a) conversation that hasn't seemed to cease in over three years."

So, how do they do it? Well, I recently found this beautiful quote from the great Christian theologian of the 20th Century, Reinhold Neibhur:

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, may be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe, as it is from our own standpoint; therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness."

What is Neibhur telling us here? I believe he is saying that surely our views, our beliefs, our convictions matter. Honestly, why study theology and philosophy, if they don't, right? We must be guided by the paradigms we use to find meaning in the world.

However, when we step back for a second, we realize that we must put our paradigms in context. We really can't and shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. We must understand that the universe is great and time is infinite, while we are small and finite. And so, when all is said and done, we must be saved not by our paradigms of thinking, but by love, and by the final form of love, forgiveness.

This is how Nicole and Nick live their lives. May we all be wise enough to learn from them.