Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Good Old Fashioned Love Story

On Friday 2/21, I officiated Leonora and Justin's wedding at Caswell House in Austin, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

When I reflect on Leonora and Justin's relationship, it seems like a good old fashioned love story. Forget the fact that the groom was born in Verona – you can't make that up, or the fact that they met in a club that had Sharks underneath the floor (no Jets were sighted, but who knows...) Just listen to Justin's description of the evening of their first date, "It didn’t start as a date, but it quickly became one. We had so much fun together that night: we had a wonderful dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, we went to several bars downtown and finally, we scaled a fence and broke into Barton Springs. It was so much fun, and a night I’ll never forget." (Bet you didn't think this would detour from love story into the petty crime genre, did you?)

Now listen to how they describe their love for each other. This is really cool. Justin says, "She lets me be me... She makes me happy. She makes me laugh (and laughs at MY jokes). She makes me want to be a better person... I love everything about her, and I’ve never met anyone like her."

Now Justin may be the trained writer, but Leonora bests him with her description, "Justin is the love of my life... I have never laughed so much in my life. Every day I feel like I love him more than the last... With him everything makes sense and love is all that matters."

So, when I further reflected on the love this couple's shares, I couldn't help but think of the final two stanzas in Sonnet 17 of Pablo Neruda's Cien Sonetos de Amor. I really think they embody just this:

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde, te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo: así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera, sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres, tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía, tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way. Than this: where I do not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Story of Redemption

Last night, Tuesday 2/18, I officiated Ellen and Bill's wedding at their home in Flower Mound, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

When I sat down to write about Ellen and Bill, I was reminded of the story of Amram and Yocheved, Moses' parents.

Most people are familiar with the Biblical account of the birth of Moses. Pharaoh commands that all Hebrew male babies be thrown into the Nile. Moses is born, and hidden for three months. Then his mother puts him in a floating cradle on the Nile, as his sister, Miriam watches over him from afar. Then the daughter of the very Pharaoh, who wants him and his like dead, raises him as her own. He grows up to be the redeemer of Israel.

Now, the rabbis of old, as they are apt to do, embellish the story. They tell us that due to Pharaoh's command, Amram divorced Yocheved, because he did not want to have children, only to have them killed by Pharaoh. When Miriam saw this she confronted her father, and told him that he was worse than Pharaoh, since Pharaoh had commanded all baby boys be eliminated, and Amram was ensuring there would be no baby boys or baby girls born. Amram listened to Miriam, remarried Yocheved, and only due to that act, they had Moses.

Now when they had Moses, since he was a boy, Amram was none too pleased with Miriam, and told her just that. That is why she follows Moses through the bulrushes to see what will be the rest of the story. Once again, the rest of the story is one of redemption.

The lessons of this story and of Ellen and Bill's love story are similar and multifold. Both stories show us that learning can come from the most unexpected places, and so you need to be open to learning from everyone. Both stories tell us that it is totally human to lose faith. However, they also tell us that we can overcome and continue to believe in the capacity for change. And both stories tell us that for learning to be meaningful, for change to be real, we need to act just like Amram and his daughter, Miriam; we need to hold each other accountable.

If you have all of those ingredients, your love story can be one of great redemption. That is the story of Amram and Yocheved, Miriam and Moses. That is the story of Ellen and Bill and their incredible journey. Their collective message is clear. Always be open to learn, believe in the capacity for change, and hold each other accountable. Let us all heed their message.