Sunday, April 27, 2014

Their Love Radiates

Yesterday, Saturday 4/26, I co-officiated Sabrina and Gary’s wedding with Father Alfonse Nazzaro, of All Saints Dallas, at SMU’s Perkins Chapel in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Have you ever seen an older couple, who have been together forever, and who you can see are just so in love, that their love radiates outward. There is really nothing like it, so much so, that if it were not rude or weird, I would go up to them, and ask them what their secret was. When I see a young couple, I wonder and I hope that they one day will be that older couple. So, how do you get there? I strongly suspect that Sabrina and Gary are one of those couples. I think that if we listen to them, we might discover the secret.

Sabrina describes their first meeting, in that most romantic of settings, waiting in line at the college bookstore, "After gathering all my books I stood in line behind this guy and we started to chat. We had so much in common and there was an instant connection, something I’ve never felt with anyone else. Right then and there I knew there would be a relationship between us.  When he was done checking out I yelled for him to wait because I didn’t want this amazing guy to slip away. That was the beginning of our wonderful and long relationship!"

So that was it. The magic of love at first sight, and they lived happily ever after. No, not really. Definitely, the magic of the beginning of a relationship is key. But you can't build a lasting relationship on this alone. As Gary describes, "Sabrina and I met when we were just kids, at the age of 19 and 20. We had much to learn and lots of room to grow as adults. As the years passed, we became closer and closer, loving one another more and more. We faced many challenges along the way..."

As Gary indicates, a real relationship is one where the couple realizes that it will always be a work in progress. A real relationship is one that evolves with the couple. A real relationship is one where you grow together, learn together, overcome challenges together. As Sabrina tells us, "I think what made our relationship so strong and last so long is that we never rushed into anything. We took our time emotionally to fully learn and understand one another. From the beginning we wanted this relationship to work."

How smart, how meticulous, how wonderful. Sabrina and Gary, you've got it! You have figured out the secret. May you continue to live the dream together one day at a time.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Did You Hope for Redemption?

Last night, Friday 4/11, I officiated Lisa and Scott's wedding at Occasions at Stone Ranch in Royse City, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Jews love questions. We even answer questions with questions. Why do we answer questions with questions? Well, why not?

So not surprisingly, Jewish tradition holds that at the Pearly Gates the Jewish equivalent of St. Peter asks you a few questions. One of these questions reminded me of Lisa and Scott. It is short and sweet. Here it is (drum roll), "Did you hope for redemption?"

Huh? What does that even mean?

Well, that is where Lisa and Scott come in. You see, in their actions, in the way they have and do live their lives as individuals and as a couple, Lisa and Scott clarify this question, and answer it too.

First, they clarify what hoping means. You see, one might think that hoping for redemption means you sit back, hope and God, nature, the universe, take your pick, brings about redemption. Not so, say Lisa and Scott. Hoping for redemption means working hard, and actively, constantly pursuing it.

Second, Lisa and Scott tell us that redemption comes only if we pursue collective AND personal redemption. One or the other is not enough. If you experience personal redemption, but everything and everyone around you is not redeemed, your own personal redemption will not last. Conversely, if you are so busy redeeming everyone and everything, but you have not redeemed yourself, not for long will you actually be able to continue redeeming others.

Finally, in the way Lisa and Scott live their lives, they clarify what true redemption means. Redemption does not mean the past is erased, it does not mean we become perfect, it does not mean we vanquish our challenges once and for all. Redemption means that we embrace our past, our present and our future. Redemption means we treasure and cherish the lessons we have learned working through our imperfections. Redemption means we continue to work on improving ourselves and the world around us each and every day.

So there you have it. If you heed Lisa and Scott's lessons, if that is how you live your life, than you too can state everyday with confidence, "I hoped, I hope, I will continue to hope for redemption."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Enhance Meaning, Happiness, and Growth

Last night, Thursday 4/10, I officiated Stephanie and Amy's wedding at their beautiful home in Dallas, Texas. Stephanie being an artist, the home is full of cool artwork. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

It is not often that the first thing I touch on in remarks like these is what the couple does for a living. I feel, though, that it is appropriate here, because Stephanie and Amy do such interesting work, and their work for both of them is not just an occupation, but a calling and a vocation. Each of them, and if you know Stephanie and Amy you know this is true, spend their working hours helping people find meaning, happiness, and growth. That is, after all, what art and psychology are all about. How each of them does this is different, because their personalities are different, but that is what they do. I ask you, is there anything more noble than working to enhance others' meaning, happiness, and growth?

Indeed, I ask each couple, why they want to get married and why now, and the answers, though varied, never seem to stray from the idea of togetherness and marriage serving to enhance meaning, happiness, and growth in the life of the couple.

Now, interestingly, most couples I marry have never been asked by anyone before me why they want to get married and why now. Having to answer that question to themselves more than anyone else is, therefore, a productive exercise. Couples like Stephanie and Amy, however, are still constantly asked in our society, why they want to get married and why now. Well, stop the presses, guess what their answer is? They believe that togetherness and marriage will enhance meaning, happiness, and growth in their life as a couple. It's really just that simple.

So, our wish for them is quite simple too. Stephanie and Amy, may you continue to bless us with enhanced meaning, happiness and growth in our lives. And, may you as a couple continue to be blessed with enhanced meaning, happiness and growth in your lives for many many years to come.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Last night, Saturday 4/5, I officiated Laura and Ryan's wedding at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida. Here are the personal remarks I shared with these two young physicians and their guests:

I always ask couples how they met. None of us can control how we meet our soul mates, so admittedly some couples' stories of how they met are more interesting or exciting than others. Once in a while, though, you come across a description that stops in your tracks with its beauty, and tells you a lot about the depth of love someone feels for the person that he or she plans to build a life with.

"All of a sudden there is a burst of wind and light shining down on Laura as she walks through the door. It was love at first sight. Once we started talking, we connected immediately. We had great chemistry and became great friends... I was completely infatuated with her; everyone knew this but her... Once we started dating...  it’s (was) a dream come true... She is not only my best friend but the most wonderful woman I have ever met. She will be a great mother to our children."

Dr. Chamorro, as you can clearly observe, the patient is clearly "suffering" from head over heels love for you!

Now, Laura tells us of a different encounter, that while it happened during that period that they were still friends, gave her a glimpse of a future much deeper connection:

"Before we were dating, Ryan and I were best friends; early on we figured (out) we had a very strong connection. I remember the first time I came over his house to work on our chemistry homework I noticed a large sheet of paper taped on his wall. It read 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage for those I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.' When I saw this my mouth dropped. This is the teaching my Mom and Dad had taught me since I was young, one which comes to mind at least once a day, and I carry this prayer around with me daily on my keychain."

Wow. I believe that this fact tells us a lot. Both Laura and Ryan grew up in families where service was important, where making a difference mattered a lot more than making a buck. That is clear. However, it is that praiseworthy approach, that can get you in trouble, if you don't have, "the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage for those I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Laura and Ryan are far ahead of the pack in that they keep this in mind.

It is that approach that makes them not only great at their vocations, but even better at the labor of love. That is why Ryan says, "I found my soul mate in Laura and she is the most intelligent, kind, and funny person I know and (I) can’t wait for us to grow old together." That is why Laura says, "Ryan and I already feel like family. I think now is a good time to make it official."

Now, I don't know about you, folks, but I tend to listen to a doctor's instructions, so not one more word, let's make it official!