I’d like to take a short break from the compassion series of the last few weeks. While reading the text below, I think you’ll see why! Compassion- part 3 will be up next week. Enjoy!
“Marriage is a sacrament… A male and female coming together with the possibility of another life coming out of it – that’s a big act.” (Joseph Campbell)
Over the weekend, I had the honor of officially marrying my dear Giulia.
What started with an enchanting look on an Indian beach five and a half years ago culminated on Saturday with formal vows of marriage. Our love guided us across oceans, through the depths of fear and sorrow, and to this moment at the shore of a beautiful Quebec lake.
We designed the ceremony ourselves by including elements from many different religious traditions. Far from being a hodgepodge of spiritual clichés, it was one coherent ritual that bore our own unique stamp.
Our very dear friend Janine served as our priestess and collaborator to create this sacred atmosphere that wasn’t afraid to inject the silly when necessary. Since there was nothing in the Quebec civil code that explicitly set out the manner in which we needed to take our legal vows, Janine sang them out and roused the crowd by asking for a “hell ya!” at the end of each article (the first time this has happened?)
Yet as much as we organized and planned the day, there were so many blessings that emerged throughout the ritual that it became more beautiful than we could have imagined.
This summer in Quebec has been wet and cloudy, but for two hours, the sun broke out of the clouds that had obscured it for the past week and shone down on us in triumphant glory. The biggest blessing, though, was the synergy created between the guests and the natural environment that elevated everyone there into a renewed appreciation for the mysteries of life and love.
I’ve come to a renewed sense of appreciation for the importance of ritual. The power of our ‘formally informal’ ritual, however, didn’t really strike me until we went through it.
As our friend Tristan described, the ritual locked in the energy and intention of all the witnesses (even those who couldn’t be present) and made it part of our cells. The marriage was a way of physically expressing and embodying what otherwise may have remained abstract, hidden, or unspoken. Perhaps this is why we need it so much- it was a way to concretely relate and honor the mysteries of this precious gift of life and all the beauty included in it.
In the modern context, it’s easy to forget that human beings are hard-wired for ritual. Many of us today are, quite justifiably, skeptical of traditional rituals, which have often been tied up with religious power structures and supernatural references. Try as we might to deny and ignore it, however, our need for ritual manifests in all sorts of contexts, from college campus bars to mass sporting events. When we don’t accept and honor our need, it mutates into a parody of sacredness.
What Giulia and I tried to do was to recognize and honor love, which is a sure gateway to the sacred dimension of life. Far from being found in some transcendent, individualized experience, we saw how this sacredness is manifest through the hearts of all those around us.
And at the end of it all, perhaps the greatest boon of this ritual was to allow my love for Giulia to reach an even greater depth. Her presence is a blessing that reminds me of the preciousness of each moment. She reminds me of the wonder, beauty, and grace hidden in the minutest things (in addition to occasionally driving me nuts). She is a true angel walking this earth, and no words can describe how lucky I feel to be with her.
Now we walk the path toward the next big milestone, which will surely necessitate its own rituals- the birth of our first child, expected in mid-August.