Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Dharma and Tikkun Olam

Sunday evening, I officiated Krishna and Shimon’s wedding ceremony at The Springs (the Lodge) in Aubrey, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, that’s a strong name!” Well, Krishna and Shimon, those are both strong names. A Hindu deity marrying one of the twelve tribes of Israel; how cool is that!

One of the fascinating facts about these two strong individuals is that through their upbringing, they were able to learn the deeper meanings of their faiths. Not surprisingly, though their faith is different in origin since we are all human, they arrived at similar understandings of the world around them and were able to arrive at similar moral worldviews. 

Krishna tells us: “I have realized that the teachings and lessons from the stories (I grew up with) mattered more than the stories themselves. Hindu legends are all about stories of being a good human being and treating everyone with respect – the idea that we are all connected in our souls to all creatures in the universe.” 

In this, Krishna echoes one of the most basic concepts in Hinduism, Dharma. According to Oxford University’s Gavin Flood, “Dharma means 'duty', 'virtue', 'morality'… and it refers to the power which upholds the universe and society… Dharma is the power that maintains society, it makes the grass grow, the sun shine, and… gives humans the opportunity to act virtuously.”

And Shimon tells us: “I found value in… the broader ideas of Judaism, such as Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), trying to be a good person and (to) make sure that I treat other people and the planet with respect.” 

In his invocation of Tikkun Olam, Shimon echoes even deeper rabbinic teachings. Genesis Raba tells us that the entire reason God gave Israel commandments was to purify people and make them better. And mystical Jewish traditions teach that if there was a moment in the world when no one was studying the Torah it would return to its primordial state.    

Inherent in these traditions is what I started these remarks and all remarks I share at weddings with, the importance of lifelong learning and learning from everyone. Krishna and Shimon have learned from each other and inspired each other to be better human beings.    

Krishna says that “Shimon is one of the kindest people I know, always looking to help others in any way he can. He… pushes me to overcome my fears and expand the boundaries of my comfort zone. He is so self-aware and always willing to work on himself to be a better person and partner… I always want to be a better person when I am around Shimon, and I can truly say I am a better person today because of him. I have loved growing with him over these past few years and feel so lucky that I get to live my life by his side.”

And Shimon says that “Krishna has a unique ability to help me step back and broaden my perspective when I fixate on something, make me feel secure if my confidence wavers, and through her unconditional love and affection, let me know that I am always enough for her. She is my partner and teammate in this game of life, and we both certainly treat life that way… I feel an uplifting bliss in my heart thinking back on our [past adventures]…  and looking forward to the many adventures to come for us… I'm committed to her for life and eager to continue building our future together.”

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Things Are Finally Good

Saturday evening, I officiated Nicole and Dallas’ wedding ceremony at Nicole’s parents’ home in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

I believe the lesson that Nicole and Dallas teach us is one that is simple yet profound. We can find love regardless of what age we are, regardless of if we are even looking for it, and there can be no better balm for the soul. In the words of the singer Ed Sheeran, “We found love right where we are… ‘Cause honey, your soul can never grow old, it's evergreen… I'm thinking 'bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways.”

I believe that this type of love has qualities that love early in life can never reach. Perhaps there is no better description of Nicole and Dallas’s love than the words of Becca Martin in her essay, Loving You Made Me Discover A Part Of Myself I Didn’t Know Existed:

“You brought out a side of me I didn’t know existed because I barricaded it so far down… The part I don’t show, the part I didn’t know I was capable of feeling, is the side you uncovered…

Then you came along, you stripped the shield and broke down the layers that have become my home.

You made me feel things I didn’t know were possible; you made me finally realize why people go insane at the thought of losing the person they love…

But you’re different.

With you, I don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing or embarrassing myself because we just seem to fit.

With you, things are good, with you, things are finally good…

Without even realizing, you’ve started chipping away at the walls I’ve built around my heart, and you’ve finally revealed it. You finally made me feel what it’s like to love again and to not be afraid, and for that, I’m thankful…”

Thank you for this valuable lesson, Nicole and Dallas. May these words continue to embody your love story in the years to come.