Saturday, March 30, 2024

A Stoic/Rabbinic Virtue

On Saturday, March 2nd, Casey Grounds and I co-officiated Ross and Chad’s wedding ceremony at The Springs in Waxahachie, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

You really can’t make up how Ross and Chad’s love story begins. I don’t mean how they met; I mean their actual falling in love. Ross says: “Sounds kinda unorthodox, but I knew I first fell in love with Chad after spending time with each other and realizing I didn’t mind him breathing on me. Some context: Having people breathe on my face/neck is a big pet peeve of mine.” LOL, as the kids might say!

Truthfully, though, Ross and Chad’s story is a truly beautiful one. They met the old-fashioned way, IRL, specifically at a gaming convention. They more than noticed each other, but were dating others at the time, so it was not to be. 

Chad picks up the story from there: “We both ended the aforementioned relationships around the same time and when I returned from a dance competition early on Memorial Day weekend in 2015, I called him to set up a dinner date. I was IMMEDIATELY smitten. I did not want to push things too much but many of my friends and students can tell you that I was literally floating around for about the next 6-9 months!”

They became a couple and moved in together, but then came another stroke of luck/challenge. Ross fulfilled a dream of getting into dental school. In San Antonio. Ouch. They made the long-distance relationship work, though, and reunited upon Ross’s graduation. 

Ross says: “Chad proposed my first day working as a dentist while we were on a date at the same place we had our very first date, Kura Sushi. It felt like a long time coming, after being together for seven years and with a deep love for each other to this day.”

Now, hopefully you have picked up on this by this point in the ceremony, but Chad is Jewish. What you may not know is that Ross follows an ancient tradition too, Stoicism. And what Ross did not realize until I wrote these remarks is that I follow that tradition too. 

I was struck by this passage in the Epistles of Seneca (one of the three great Roman Stoics, along with Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius), because it seems to describe Ross and Chad and their relationship so beautifully: “Nature bore us related to one another … She instilled in us a mutual love and made us compatible … Let us hold everything in common; we stem from a common source. Our fellowship is very similar to an arch of stones, which would fall apart, if they did not reciprocally support each other.”

The Ancient Rabbis, like the Stoics, focused on virtue and action. They ask a question about love that might sound odd to us but would make much sense to the Stoics: What commandment does one fulfill through loving one’s romantic partner? Easy, say the Rabbis, “Love your fellow as yourself.” (Side note: In the Rabbis’ wording both partners are men.) Ross and Chad, what we wish for you is that you continue to enjoy the fulfillment of this Stoic/Rabbinic virtue for many many years to come.

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