Wedding Meditations: Part One
The most important words we never know how to say. Our hearts clench, we stutter, lapse into cliché. Yet it is so important to speak: and what we do here, today, is a primary speech, a beginning to speak, a big speaking: because, probably, you may have felt in the last few months that until this moment of your lives you never knew how to speak, or had nothing to say.
You maybe right. Look to the poets – love is the endless topic, perplexing, troubling,yet nonnegotiable. Truly, Love topples our apple carts; rearranges the furniture in our lives.It is a fire, yet whether it will keep us warm or burn down our house, from one day to the next we will never know. Probably, in the end, it will do a little of both, and you won’t care. Why? Because you are in love,(wherever that is).
But now that you are here, what do you say? How do you say it? The youngest son at the Sedar feast, why is this day different from all other days? Why this public moment?
Ritual and Ceremony is a way of speaking when words seem not enough.
At the center you have two people, two words, a speaking and hearing: Legalists will call it a contract, churchy types will call it sacrament. Bush calls it the ground rock of civilization. Parents will call it about time. But, what it is NOT: marriage is not self-help. Marriage will not add anything to your life that you do not already bring to it. Marriage will not rescue you from loneliness. In fact it will guarantee loneliness in deeper ways than ever before. Nor does the priest make this magic. We are, after all, only legal witnesses, for the church. You, do this hard work – and it is -- between you. Or,actually, you have done this hard work. Today only makes public the reality that has, for some time,existed between you. Today is the day you welcome us in.
Lawyers recognize that words are at the center here, and thus, human people.
At the center, then, the word, I do, I will, the fragile word. Tell me about it, if it is something human, Frost’s husband tells his wife. Words matter, probably more than we give them credit. In the beginning, god spoke; yes, but imagine, for a moment, if he had not? Suppose God had not known how? Or been to overwhelmed by the possibilities of might and what could happen? So, here, too. Suppose you had been silent, walked the other way; taken the drink, and said, thanks, have a nice day. Marriage is about risking the word – yes, risking the promises --those we make, those we desperately need to keep, beyond our ability to keep them.
Thus our celebration today is also about forgiveness. Did you know that Jesus was an economiciaon? Forgive us our debts,he prays, as we forgive those debts owed us. A promise is a check, drawn on a currency of faith, in the economy of love. No accident, too, that the language of forgiveness is economic. To promise and to forgive: We do both out of generosity, we do both out of faith, we do both because we need to. There is amoral statute of limitation upon our frailty. We cannot always carry it. We must forgive, and invite forgiveness. we do both in words.