Monday, September 4, 2023

No Matter What May Come

On Sunday, I officiated Dina and Will’s wedding ceremony at the Lizton Lodge in Lizton, Indiana. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests: 

One of the reasons I have enjoyed working with Dina and William is that they are, and nowadays (as opposed to say the 1980s) this term is viewed as positive, hopeless nerds, and so am I. As a result, we think very deeply about words concepts, and feelings others might not and have a particular self-awareness that not everyone possesses. 

None of us decide how we will meet our soulmate, and certainly none of us can decide when. Still, every now and then, we all run across the couple who makes us do what the West Africans call, le tchip. We suck our breath in through our teeth. Since that couple has been fortunate enough to not really experience any negatives in life, we ruefully wonder what will happen when they do, because make no mistake, we all do.

Not Dina and William. They each have had experiences in life, as individuals and as a couple, that have pained them and challenged them, that have built them up. You can see this in how William describes the genesis and development of their relationship. There is something both almost mystical, as well as practical in his words:

“I probably knew I wanted to be with Dina before she even knew my name. It started with an attraction from across the room, but quickly blossomed into a more balanced, refreshing relationship than I’d ever thought possible. Over our first few months, we spent as much time together as we could. As I learned more and more about her, I grew nothing but more certain that I was with someone I could see myself with for the rest of my life. We provided strengths where the other had weaknesses and introduced each other to the different things we loved and were passionate about. We began developing a sense of trust and supportiveness that would eventually prove a fundamental pillar of our partnership.”

It is interesting that he uses that word, partnership. Dina says, “When I met William, I learned how it felt to be a partner instead of a girlfriend. He treated me with respect and simply enjoyed being with me - especially when I was being the weird me that I’d felt the need to hide for so long. He sang along to Disney with me, he wanted to spend the afternoon at bookstores (mostly because that’s what I wanted to do), he encouraged me to do puzzles and experiment with crafts I’d set aside for a long time. I felt special and comfortable in my own skin and could once again put down some of the weight I’d forced myself to carry wherever I went.”

Wow. I find that so deep. THAT is what an ideal relationship is really all about. It is giving the other person the ability, the permission, the support, to put down some of the weight we are carrying and to be our real selves.

This is what William has done for Dina: “When we started dating, I still had my walls up. It took some tears and some time to bring them down, but William was there for me every step of the way, reliably my steadfast shoulder to cry on. His patience, understanding and compassion are why I fell in love with him. His support when support wasn’t the easiest option is what made me certain I wanted to spend my life with him as my partner, my Dungeon Master and my best friend.”

This is what Dina has done for William: “It brings me peace knowing I will always be able to count on her no matter what may come… We only continued to grow stronger together. I had found happiness and love I hadn’t been looking for or expected ever to find… It both frightens and heartens me how many little things had to go right for us to end up together, but not a day goes by that I am not thankful that whatever needed to happen to bring us together, happened.”


On Thursday, 8/31, I officiated Leili and Ryon’s wedding ceremony at the Reflections Venue and Gardens in Plano, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests: 

One of the most important precepts in the Abrahamic religions is what we call in Hebrew, hakarat hatov. Now, this literally translates as recognition of good, but really means a sense of gratitude. 

This precept is so important that the Bible extends it even to inanimate objects. Moses, for instance, is told to send Aaron to strike the Nile to elicit a couple of the plagues rather than doing it himself because the Nile hid and saved him when he was a baby.

Truth be told, the American psyche militates against this idea. We are told that in our society, all evidence to the contrary, if you work hard and play by the rules, you will, in almost mathematical fashion, succeed. And if you buy that, I have a great bridge to sell you too… Leili and Ryon aren’t fooled by this, though. They recognize their good fortune.

In fairness, it is a little easier in their case not to take their coming together for granted. After all, what are the odds of a Trinidadian Grenadian Canadian soccer playing financier and an Iranian Mexican Texan, sometime, Californian social justice practitioner not only meeting each other, but finding so much in common and falling in love. 

It is this type of gratitude for what fate has wrought upon you that makes not just the exciting parts of life, oh, I don’t know, like going to Babe’s Chicken, but also the seemingly mundane parts of life richer and more meaningful. 

Indeed, Leili and Ryon explicitly emphasize that they not only enjoy the opportunity “to explore the world and have adventures with each other but they also love their evenings at home, cooking dinner together, watching movies and showing each other TikTok videos - life is exactly what they both want for themselves!”

And the recognition of your good fortune forms the best type of launching pad for the vital work that is marriage. As Leili and Ryon say, “What you see before you today is the result of three and a half years of two individuals committed to doing the work of creating the relationship they want for themselves. These three and a half years have provided them the opportunities to evolve into more healed versions of themselves. And they know that work never ends.”