Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Legacy to Leave for Those Who Come After Us

Saturday afternoon, Father Michael Mills and I co-officiated Carly and Aric’s wedding ceremony at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Dallas, Texas.

Carly and Aric’s marriage is an intermarriage. He’s from Dallas, she’s from Connecticut, a state that is 54 times smaller than ours. He fights fires and she studies at a small obscure school outside of Boston that you probably have never heard of. Finally, I really hate to bring up such a painful divisive subject at their wedding… he’s a cat person and she most definitely is not.

On a more serious note, if you really think about it, unless you happen to be an ancient Pharoah or Ptolemaic king who is marrying his sister, every marriage is an intermarriage. After all, every family is different, and the definition of “normal” for most of us is “how my folks do it.”

So, how do you prepare your children to be successful in their intermarriage? Honestly, the answer might be simpler than you think, which makes it a little infuriating that too few people follow the example of Carly and Aric’s parents in how they raise their children.

Carly says, “I was always very happy and outgoing. My mom is Protestant, and my dad is Jewish, so we went to church on Easter and Christmas and to temple on the High Holidays. I was able to gain an appreciation for the traditions of both religions.”

Aric says, “I started attending church when I was in middle school at Good Shepherd. I had many friends of Christian and Jewish faith when I was growing up, so I was exposed to many of the lessons and traditions of both faiths. I attended a Catholic high school and studied many semesters of theology and spirituality. The more I studied, the more I realized nobody has the answers…”

Now, you might be asking yourself, OK, that might explain why Carly and Aric will be successful in the “inter” part of their intermarriage, but what about the “marriage” part of their intermarriage? I believe that upon closer analysis you will see that what I just shared with you helps answer that too.

The number one prescription for an UNSUCCESSFUL marriage is thinking that YOU have all the answers or even thinking that there ARE definitive singular answers to most questions. What Carly and Aric are telling us is that not only do they know that this is untrue; they know this because this is how their parents raised them.

What Matthew, Natalie, Richard, and Blair teach us is that we should raise our children to be humble, to know that they do not have all the answers. If we do that, we stand a chance of not only ensuring that our children will be more successful in life, but that they will be more successful in love. I cannot think of a better legacy to leave for those who come after us.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Fairy Tale

Saturday evening, I officiated Renee and Darrin’s wedding ceremony at the Filter Building, in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I ask each person I marry to write about themselves. No judgment, but it won’t surprise you that some people write a little better and some people write a little worse. We are all born with a diverse and diverging set of talents. It also won’t surprise you that some people have had a more interesting life than others. None of us, after all, controls our circumstances; that is left to fate. There is little you and I can do about that.

So, when in response to my request that a person write about themselves, I get a masterpiece, I just consider myself lucky. Well, friends, count yourselves lucky today too. Here is how Darrin began his autobiographical essay, to which – most people do not do this, but you will not be surprised Darrin did – he gave a title, “A Short Story”: “The year was 1990, the month was April, it was the eve of Passover. At 8:45 at night the Jewish nurse at Medical City Dallas exclaimed, “Baby Moses is born!” He even grew up speaking Hebrew like we imagine the original Moses did! You just can’t make this stuff up.

Now, lest you think the drama in this story ends there or is confined to the groom’s storytelling, listen to Renee: “Well, this is a fairy tale, LOL!” she says. “Kidding, but it is definitely fate at its finest! We were actually in the same kindergarten class at the JCC. There’s a picture of us at a cute school assembly, dressed in our PJs and I’m peeking over looking at Darrin. (Will attach pic; disappointingly she never did.) We didn’t realize this until later in life. We found these pictures at his mom’s office while dating.”

Now, in an old fairy tale, to use Renee’s term, that is all you would need, but this is real life, so even though Darrin claims that kindergarten is where their “love was built, but not truly realized until a few decades later,” and that “As you could one could imagine, our fate was sealed long ago,” that is really not why we are here today.

Fate, after all, is what happens to you, and though, again, none of can control our circumstances, we do have some choices in how we react to those circumstances. To use an episode many years after kindergarten, one cannot choose if one, Renee, almost falls at a party, but one can choose whether to sacrifice a portion of a front tooth to catch her from falling, like Darrin did. When you make a choice like this, you transcend fate and enter into your destiny.

Similarly, doing the work to continue together through a long-distance relationship and allowing it to build you, as individuals and as a couple, is not fate but destiny. As Renee says, “We were able to grow as individuals and experience one another through new seasons of life.” And much more recently, in an experience none of us will really comprehend until we have exited it, they were able to harness the forced togetherness of the earliest part of the global pandemic to strengthen their relationship even more and plan today’s celebration of their love.

Renee and Darrin, we hope that life will not throw anymore chipped teeth or global pandemics at you. Still, whatever challenges life does throw at you, continue to work together, turning your fate into destiny, and your bond will not only not break but be strengthened even more.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Meant to Be

Monday evening (3/15), I officiated Amanda and Adam’s wedding ceremony at the Rustic Grace Estate, in Van Alstyne, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

The story of how Amanda and Adam met occurs at the hilariously named bar, Scruffy Duffie’s.

Adam says, “I had just arrived and was standing around when I noticed this beautiful girl standing over by the bar with one of her friends… A few minutes later… my back turned… I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the friend… She asked if I would be interested in having a drink with her friend… Amanda...”

In Adam’s telling, this is a pretty innocuous story. It is much more exciting in Amanda’s telling: “I… had sworn off men entirely. (Ouch!) I saw him across the room and told my friend I thought he was cute, and she immediately ran over to him and told him what I said. We started talking and the rest is history!” Wow. I don’t think I have ever said this at a ceremony, Adam, but thank you for restoring Amanda’s hope in our entire gender. Don’t let it get to your head.

Now, it’s not like Adam restored her positive view of half of humanity that very evening. However, that evening sparked something in her, that she was willing to, cautiously, give it a chance. Essentially, she was saying in the words of Bebe Rexha: “I don't mean to be so uptight, but my heart's been hurt a couple times... I ain't gon' lie, ain't gonna lie. ‘Cause I'm tired of the fake love, show me what you're made of, boy, make me believe.” And Adam was essentially saying to her in the words of Florida Georgia Line, “Baby, lay on back and relax… no need to go nowhere fast, let's enjoy right here where we at. Who knows where this road is supposed to lead, we got nothing but time… If it's meant to be, it'll be…”

That openness, that willingness in the words of the chorus to, “see where this thing goes,” paid off. Amanda discovered that, in her words, “Adam has the biggest heart… of anyone I have ever met. He is someone that will give you everything he has to offer and expect nothing in return. He instantly accepted my children as his own, and I know he will always have their best interest. He takes such great care of us, and I feel so lucky to have found him.”

And Adam says, “She is the girl I’ve been waiting to meet my entire life. She is sweet, thoughtful, a wonderful mother and brings out my best qualities when we’re together. We’ve dated now for just over three years, and it has shown me that no matter what we face, we always rise above it and overcome any challenges that come our way.”

I don’t know about you folks, but it sounds to me like this was most definitely, “meant to be.”