In the darkness of the pandemic, I received a gift—the gift of time. And with that gift, I began to declutter.
So here I am, decluttering. And since I have umpteen boxes of old letters, journals, cards, and papers, and since I’m incapable of throwing away anything in writing before I read it, this process is doomed to take a longer time than I likely have left!
Fortunately, between ancient report cards, repetitive diaries, and my children’s letters from camp asking for gum and money, some things I’m reading still resonate, like the blessing I gave to Tom and Lori at their Rocky Mountain wedding. Because Colorado allows anyone to officiate at such ceremonies, they had asked me to be the one.
What follows are some excerpts from what I said. And while the context is marriage, the teachings hold for all relationships, including the one you have with yourself!
“This Is the Part Where You Give Us Some Wisdom”
When Lori, Tom, and I were planning their ceremony, they said, “This is the part where you give us some wisdom.” And I thought, wisdom, wisdom, where do I go for wisdom?
Well, I went to my mother. And she said, as always, “To have a good marriage, you have to work at it.” Now, I’ve never really liked hearing that. I like to think of marriage as fun, not work. But I think the work she means is simply the work we all need to do, in a marriage or not: to become the best person we can be.
And both Lori and Tom had told me that one thing they were looking for in a partner was someone who’d help and challenge them to be a better person, not just to each other but in the world.
My next stop for wisdom was the Beatles, who sang their message loud and strong: “Love is all you need, love is all.”
And then I went to the Dalai Lama and found these words: “People ask me about my religion. My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Yes, I thought, if you have to remember just one thing, remember kindness.
And thinking of kindness made me think of Lori and Tom, and I realized that the very qualities that attracted them to each other are also the qualities of a good marriage: kindness, honesty, humor … and a love of adventure.
Lori and Tom are adventurous for sure. They met on a 450-mile bike tour and first felt their attraction turn to love while they were climbing a 14er (climber talk for a mountain that’s 14,000 feet above sea level—or higher). And the way I see it, anyone who can climb that high a mountain is well prepared for marriage. Because when you think about it, mountain climbing and marriage are very similar.
First you have the beginning. That’s when you feel the excitement, the elation … and the challenge. The lesson here is clear: The way to climb a mountain or build a good marriage is simply step by step. Look straight in front of you and respond with right action. And know that there will be times when each of you will have to be the one to lead the way or give a hand to help the other.
There will also be times when the path is rocky, when you need to remember that no path, and no person, is perfect, and the way to climb higher is through acceptance. So you move on, and your life and love grow richer, with more depth and meaning and shared memories.
And if on your trail you reach places, as most of us do, where it starts to rain or gets dark and difficult, that’s when you need to remember most of all.
You need to remember humor, kindness, and that marriage is not just love but is also commitment. You need to remember what is right between you—not only the part that feels wrong—and all the things you love about each other, even when those things seem hidden.
In this way, you can ride out the times when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives, knowing that even if you lose sight of it, the sun is still there.
So you remember all these things and climb higher. And when you reach the top of the mountain, you’re rewarded with the most beautiful view of all.
For the more you grow in acceptance, forgiveness, and loving kindness, the more your love spreads to everyone and to life itself. And you see, even if just for a moment, that everything in life is love. “Love is all you need, love is all….”
With thanks to my mom, the Beatles, and the Dalai Lama, that’s the wisdom I gathered to offer today.
Blessings on Tom and Lori, and blessings on each and every one of you!