Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Way That Love is When It is Pure

Saturday evening (8/1) I co-officiated Ellen and Nate's wedding ceremony with Father Richard Thibodeau, at St. Mary's of the Assumption in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask each person I marry to write about themselves. Now, Ellen and Nate, this might surprise a poet and a fiction writer: Writing, like anything else, is something some people are good at, and some people less so. So, I was excited to read the essays of a trained poet, Nate, and a trained fiction writer, Ellen, who I was impressed to find has a long list of publications, available on Amazon, by the way!

I ask each person to write about a few different points. One of these is how they met. Here is how our poet describes the place they met: "Lake Charles is a small city on the north-east shore of the eponymous lake. Because of the unique geographical situation of South Louisiana, Lake Charles contains a port that can accommodate ocean-going vessels, but it is nevertheless separated from the Gulf of Mexico by about two thousand square miles of salt and freshwater marsh. For this reason, living there can sometimes feel like living at the ends of the Earth." He's not that bad at prose either, is he? And yes, this is the first of some 600 essays like these I have read with the word eponymous...

Now, you may protest, that I left out the part about how they met. Wasn't that the point? Well, no. The point was to describe the setting, because to Ellen and Nate the setting is integral to their story. Once again, here is Nate: "Ellen, from Chicago, and I, from Roanoke, both moved to this strange and romantic clime sight unseen. I’d like to think that this really rash life decision shows not utter foolishness on both of our parts, but daring and a willingness to discover our destiny. As it turned out, our destiny was to meet one another and fall in love.​"

Now, why do I use the word "setting" and not the word "place". Well, I feel that if you just keep Nate's poetic description in mind, you already have the answer. It wasn't about a place, it was so much richer than that. They were at the ends of the earth, in a strange and romantic clime. That is a setting. And I belabor that point because Ellen says that growing up, like many writers and romantics, she "always had trouble feeling connected to people and rooted to a place." With Nate in that setting she discovered, in her words, "there is no time or place, it is just us in a vast, beautiful world with so much to learn and experience."

This desire to connect and find peace has led Ellen to her deeply spiritual practice of Yoga. "When I move with my breath," she says, "I am able to quiet my mind and exist in a place of just be-ing... I have learned that I can just be and that I am not my thoughts." But once again, the partnership with Nate is key: "Off the yoga mat, it is a lot harder to remain unattached from your thoughts and anxieties. In so many ways, Nate has taught me how to be in the moment and experience more divine-ness every day."

This purity she describes, where feelings become so real, you can almost touch them, is something that Nate echoes when he speaks of his feelings for Ellen, and what they share. This should tell you all you need to know about their love story, and these words need no commentary: "We have a love that feels palpably real and true, and that becomes richer and more complex with each passing day we spend together... We are best friends and a great team. Our time together has almost exclusively been a time of laughter, trust, and unadulterated satisfaction and joy. This is, I am very sure, the way that love is when it is pure."