Monday, December 27, 2021

Broken and Whole

Sunday afternoon, I officiated Susan and Steven’s wedding ceremony at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center, in Plano, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

The Bible tells us that when Moses comes down from Mount Sinai, carrying the Ten Commandments, he witnesses, to his dismay, that in his absence the Children of Israel have decided to engage in some, uh, extra-curricular activities.

So, while the first not one but two commandments are about worshipping the one God of Israel and not worshipping idols, here they are dancing around a golden calf they are worshipping. Moses, understandably, is a little upset, and he breaks the tablets.

God is none too happy either, but Moses convinces God to give the Children of Israel a second chance. He goes back up to the mountain, and he comes back down with a second set of tablets. The lesson here is very clear: Always make sure your tablets are covered by a good warranty.

Now, eventually, God commands Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant. Thanks to Steven Spielberg, you’ve all seen it in the first Indiana Jones movie. God commands Moses to put the tablets inside the ark.

Which tablets, you might ask? Here is where it gets interesting. You might think that it was just the second and whole set of tablets that went in there. You would be wrong. God explicitly commands Moses to put the whole tablets AND the broken tablets into the ark.

When I was younger, I really didn’t understand why. I mean who saves broken tablets. You either recycle them or give them back to Apple for a credit on your next tablets. Now that I am a little older and hopefully a little wiser, I get it. What really makes us who we are is the mixture of brokenness and wholeness that is inside all of us.

When you listen to Susan and Steven tells their life stories, each as individuals and then as they converge, you can really see this concept play out. You see it in Steven’s tremendous admiration for how his parents built a cooperative relationship after they went their separate ways. You see this in the pride Susan has in raising happy, healthy, and productive children while having experiences that she says would be worthy of a Hallmark mini-series.

And you most definitely see it in the events of late 2016 and mid-2017, when Susan went from being lucky to be alive to what she calls the “most wonderful, fantastic thing that has happened to me beside the birth of my children. When I least expected it, I found a love so true, so deep, that is such a gift.”

Finally, you see it in how they have conceived of this celebration with all of you, their family and friends, here today. As Steven says, “This wedding will signify the start of the next chapter of our lives, and hopefully for all those that attend, the beginning of the end of this dreaded pandemic, a celebration for all to embrace.”

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Have You Ever Danced with Yourself?

Midday Saturday, Reverend José Luis Jácome and I co-officiated Samia and Jared’s wedding ceremony at Samia’s parents’ home in Quito, Ecuador. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Have you ever listened to two people talk about each other and been reminded of a poem? I have, specifically when listening to Samia and Jared speak of each other.

Samia recounts how they grew their relationship together, “He soon became my home away from home. We were each other’s pillars when work or life got hard… As our relationship and careers progressed, we could make more time for each other and grow together. Jared became the person I would always go to, my trusted partner and my best friend. This is when I knew he was the person I wanted to marry… We know that together, we will be able to accomplish anything because we are partners for life.”

Jared echoes these very feelings, “We recognize the strength and happiness we provide each other. Her best qualities uplift my own, and I hope in turn my best qualities do the same for her. My life… without Samia… would lack the fulfillment and joy that I am brought every day by her presence…. We recognize that our individual selves and our collective lives are made greater by one another. We as a team, are greater than us as individuals. A life-time commitment to one another, as marriage is, will only serve to grow that bond between us…”

Coincidentally or not, this perfect distillation of the ideal loving relationship that Samia and Jared describe is beautifully expressed by the Ecuadorian American poet, Maria Galvez, in her poem, Have You Ever Danced with Yourself:

Have you ever danced with yourself?

I have.  I did it tonight.

Somehow, it just felt right,

Although it was dark and it was late.

I checked the weather forecast of my heart

And the climate of my soul marks: “Happiness”,

An unbelievable sense of joyfulness

That will stay within me, even if we are apart.


Because we were made for each other,

“apart” simply means “I’ll be right back”.

It’d be silly to turn our backs

On this great combination of lovers.


Lovers in love, now and forever.

Sharing dreams and goals that we know will come true,

Since anything is possible if I am with you,

Sharing a life in which fate brought us together.


Have you ever smiled at yourself?

I have.  I did it tonight.

And it feels perfectly right

To be yours and to enjoy being under your spell.


(What I’m really saying is: I’m in love…

What I’m really saying is: I love you.)

Samia and Jared, may continue to recognize that anything is possible when you are with each other, and may you never come out from under each other’s spell.

Monday, December 13, 2021

As Ready as We’ll Ever Be

Saturday afternoon, December 3rd, I officiated Emma and Cary’s wedding ceremony at Acre Baja, in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Albert Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it.

The conductor said, "Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it."

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one."

Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going."

Now, roll back the tape to the beginning of Emma and Cary’s story. Was it evident where they were going? Was it evident that their story would bring us to where we are today?

Cary says, “It all started when I, a sophomore, saw Emma Davis, a freshman, walking through the hallway of the Bullis School. I knew there was something about her and I had to meet her. I would see her in the hallways but never had the chance to hangout outside of school. By the time my junior year rolled around, Emma and I started to hangout a bit. All the boys were interested in her so I wasn’t sure of my chances.” Cary, at this moment, I would say your chances are pretty good…

In all seriousness, the answer on a slightly deeper level is that there was something special from the word go, something that is harder to define in logical terms, something that is still with them today. Emma says, “I was so nervous around him. I still get butterflies thinking about him coming up the stairs from the senior lounge and saying, ‘Hey Emma’. We were actually both dating other people at the time and dumped them for each other!” A trail of broken hearts at Bullis. Ouch…

From there, Emma takes us deeper. “Our love was strong, so the future was always a topic of discussion and this continued throughout our relationship...When he was like, ‘I don’t want you to move to NYC, let’s move in together,’ I didn’t think twice. We were so ready to start our life together. Very soon into our move-in, we got our baby, Harley. Harley rounded out our family and from then all we could talk about is our future and how we were going to crush life together.” (In case you were wondering, yes, Emma and Cary were quite insistent that Harley be recognized in our ceremony, because, obviously!)

For those of you older than thirty, according to author Emma Zimmerman, “Crushing it is a common expression used when someone is doing their job particularly well, or exceeding all of their goals. Unlike the literal definition of the word “crush” (to destroy with force to the point of injury), ‘crushing it’ has an extremely positive connotation. The phrase can easily be swapped out with its cousin, ‘killin’ it.” The more you know!

Interestingly, Cary says something that in my experience you rarely hear from grooms. Not to be stereotypical, but us guys can be relatively shallow, in comparison to the girls, “I have always wanted to get married by 28 and have kids by 30. I would say, the earlier you have kids, the longer you get to be in their lives. Except, I didn’t start saying this until I was with Emma. When you know you found the love of your life, you can start to plan... I can’t wait to be a father… I know Emma will be an amazing mother… This is obviously a huge moment for us, but this is more about officially beginning our lives together as one. I know I am making the best decision in marrying Emma and can’t wait to officially call her my wife.” 

Emma echoes Cary, “I still pinch myself… I know I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Life with Cary is GOOD and I’m just so excited for our future as a married couple. Marriage to me solidifies our relationship, our commitment, our love for one another. We always knew we would be ready for it at some point and now here we are. As ready as we'll ever be.”

Well, I’m not one to argue with a bride on her wedding day, so with that, we better get on with it!