Sunday, June 25, 2017

Next Adventure

Saturday, I officiated Michelle and Matt’s wedding ceremony at the Omni Dallas Hotel, in Dallas, Texas. These are the words I shared with them and their guests:

I truly love Michelle and Matt's approach to life. I believe it may be the perfect vehicle to not only survive (which is kind of boring) but to truly thrive (which is way more exciting) in the world we live in. 
The post WWII era begot a way of life, where for a short period of three to six decades, depending how you measure it, the Horatio Alger myth of American life seemed to become a reality. If you worked hard and played by the rules, you could, regardless of your station in life upon birth, achieve the American Dream. That American Dream was based largely on working for one corporation for most of your adult life, buying a home, and earning a pension. These structures would grant you stability throughout your life. 

Now, this never really was true, but it was not till the late 2000s that this really hit home, just as Michelle and Matt's generation was coming if age, and entering the workforce. They and we discovered that the structures that had defined our lives were truly gone. The question was, what now?

Michelle and Matt have the answer, and I love it. While some saw the tidal wave approaching, and could or would not act, this couple (with a twinkle in their eyes) said, "What if we surf that bad boy?! Now that might be scary, but it would be fun!" That is the secret to their success. 

I couldn't help laughing out loud at Michelle's description of the beginning of their relationship: "During our first few dates I liked Matt a lot but wasn’t sure how much. (Well now! - DSG) I got the impression that he liked me a lot and I loved how open and honest he was. Well, eventually, I was all in!" Lucky for Matt, huh?!

Michelle and Matt's relationship budded, deepened and cemented, as they rode the waves of their professional lives, and traveled the world together. It was on a European trip between jobs for Matt, that he says, "We truly became each other's adventure buddies. I had known Michelle was awesome before, but spending time together in tiny rooms with no A/C and long days of travel helped me realize how much of a perfect fit we were. We... totally clicked."

That sense of adventure was one they honed in their professional lives, their travel, and even in just relaxing together. As Michelle says, "I loved how easy our relationship was, we always had fun even when we were doing nothing. (One) summer, we... (traveled) to Belize. It was then that I realized how little Matt likes to sit still... I loved that Matt was so adventurous and helped me break out of my comfort zone too! We now call each other 'adventure buddies'."

Now, it's important to understand that leading an adventurous life takes some bravery and some sacrifice. Matt appreciates that, when he says, "That's what I absolutely love about Michelle. She is willing to make extreme sacrifices for me, and I can't imagine anyone being in love with me as much as she is." 

It is this love that causes Michelle to say, "He doesn’t know this but sometimes when we snuggle at night silent tears of joy roll down my cheeks, because I cannot believe how lucky I am to be marrying the man of my dreams." It is this love that causes Matt to say, "I am always on the lookout for our next adventure together." Well, Michelle and Matt, how about we start that next adventure right now?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Power Couple

Today, I officiated Mandy and Paul’s wedding ceremony, at Reflections on Spring Creek in Plano, Texas. Here are the words I shared with them and their guests:

I ask every person I officiate for, to write an autobiographical essay, and I ask them to touch upon a few specific points in the essay. Among other things, I ask them to tell me why they want to get married and why now. After all, these are important questions to consider, and no one else, aside from me, can ask them without seeming quite rude!
Mandy showed she was a true Jewess with her answer to, “Why now?” What do I mean by that? Well, they say that Jews often answer a question with a question. Do you know why? Simple: Why not?

That is Mandy’s answer to why she wants to marry now, “Why not?” Fortunately, she does elaborate on that: “I love this man with every ounce of my being, and I cannot be complete without him… Everything in my existence is better because I have him in my life. We are stronger and better together. We often refer to ourselves as a ‘power couple’. There’s nothing we can’t do together, nothing we can’t achieve, nothing we can’t overcome…”

A “power couple” is an interesting phrase. I looked up what it meant in the Urban Dictionary, and here is the top definition, which (once you hear it) I think you will admit, fits Mandy and Paul, like a glove:

“A relationship between two people who are equally as cool as each other. They are as individually awesome and fun to be around as they are when they are together. Neither one depends on the other for their feelings of self-worth – they know in their heart that they are just as valuable to the world as the other. Good looking, optimistic, and sparks a light in the world that people recognize that goes beyond a normal relationship. In a power couple, if one person is flawed, the other person makes up for their weaknesses in strength. Together they are the epitome of what anyone would desire in a relationship. They encourage goodness in the world and make it a better place by being together.”

That final point is the one that stood out to me the most about Mandy and Paul. In my discussions with them, it was very clear that in their professional endeavors, as well as in their personal lives, encouraging goodness and making the world a better place, was of paramount importance to both of them. This is why they work with kids; this is why Paul chose to serve our country in uniform in peacetime and wartime; this why in said essay, Mandy added a whole paragraph just to tell me about their family of seven, the two of them and five members of their furry brood (her word, not mine).

This might seem like a trivial, matter of fact point, but it is not. In a world that seems to have grown colder and less caring, in a world where the fictional Gordon Gecko’s, “Greed is good,” is seen as a positive statement, in a world that mistakes the ownership of things for actual accomplishments, this is very very serious.

The world needs more people like Mandy and Paul, the world need more couples like Mandy and Paul, to encourage goodness and to make the world a better place.

Touch the Face of God

Saturday afternoon, I co-officiated Rosalind and Gillis’s wedding ceremony, with Monsignor Roger Smith, at Nina’s Chapel in Leakey, Texas. Here are the words I shared with them and their guests:
I was entirely fascinated with something Rosalind had mentioned about finding a mate. Listen to this: “When I was in college, I had this long checklist [of what] I was looking for in a significant other. The list had quite a few superficial characteristics that I realized really didn’t amount to anything, if the guy I was dating didn’t make me feel like I wanted to be a better person every day. So, finding someone who challenged me to do better, to treat others better, to be that better person went to the top of the list.”

Now, Rosalind, I hope you understand that even where you started is far ahead of where most guys are in college. It’s usually not a checklist, certainly not a long one, and it is 100% superficial. Seriously, though, I love that idea of the most important attribute in a mate, being one that would make you a better person, specifically in your interpersonal relations with others.

Now, friends, it probably won’t surprise you that someone who says that this is what she is looking for in a guy, already has this attribute (in spades) herself. Listen to how Gillis describes her: “Rosalind is the kindest, friendliest, smartest, most fun, most level headed, non-judgmental and beautiful person I know.  She is always willing to go out of her way to make other people feel better or more at ease.”

This is not something that happened by accident. This is where Rosalind’s heritage led her. As she says, “While participation at church was at the forefront in my life as a child, perhaps most important to my spiritual growth was the example my parents and grandparents set for me. They express their love not only verbally but also through acts of service, whether it be volunteering in the community or taking care of loved ones who have fallen ill… This expression of love and understanding is one of the family traditions that has helped shape my spirituality, which is constantly evolving and growing today.”

Rosalind vividly describes how she met Gillis, through an acquaintance. When he described Gillis she says, “None of the superficial characteristics on my ‘checklist’ were listed… Instead, he described Gillis as one of the most considerate people he knew. It made me realize that Gillis was someone I wanted to meet even before he arrived that night… He is one of the most compassionate, loving, and considerate people I know. Gillis has a way of helping and teaching people that leaves them feeling that he truly supports and cares for them, and he does…”

In Gillis’s case, this was no accident either. As he says, “While I was raised as and identified as being a Jew, I was always taught [that] being a good person is more important than practicing any single religion… I think being a different religion than those around me, while growing up, played a significant role in my religious beliefs today. I still feel and think God cares infinitely more about what we do than what we believe.”

Well, Rosalind and Gillis, though a rabbi I am, I cannot contend that I speak for God. That said, my studies lead me to not only feel and think that God would care more about what we do, than what we specifically believe; they lead me to know it is so. Continue, therefore, to build your relationship with this understanding in mind, and through your kindness and compassion, as individuals and as a couple, you will, in the words of John Gillespie Magee, Jr., “touch the face of God.”