Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"...touching the web of transcendence..."

"Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a soul like me
I once was lost
But now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see..."

Our daughter,  Loren, is a filmmaker.  Her lens is primarily focused on the exquisitely beautiful, gloriously wonderful world of dance.  As a talented dancer herself, the "eye" she brings to the transcendent relationship between space, body, and movement is extraordinary.  So when she posted a wedding video on her Facebook page, I was mystified.  It seemed almost, well...pedestrian.  Fascinated as I always am with the lives and interests of our children, I opened the link immediately.  Was I ever wrong!  There was nothing benign about its message for me.  I was moved...deeply.

What Loren has captured in 6 minutes, is amazing.  As one wedding guest guilelessly admits, in the film:

"They've taken all the cynicism out of me...all of it."

Well, even though I have no cynicism about marriage, watching this film took something out of me too. It took away the inner tension I've felt for a long time at not having "the right words" on an issue that I care deeply about.  And Loren's film has given voice to, what I feel is, a vital message about the basic human right to marry, to unite with another as loving lifepartners in a faithful, monogamous, committed relationship.  

As a spiritual thinker, I see our individual and collective desire to marry...to give up self-interest for a life-partnership with another person...as evidence of the divine, as proof that hope is transcendent .   But knowing how to say all of this, have it come out right,
and make a difference, without sounding like you are on some kind of soapbox...especially when the social conversation about marriage has become so steeped in gender bias, political rhethoric, and religious relativism...is not only difficult, it often feels impossible.

Yet, in this short film Carrie, Jessica, their friends, and family...with the help of Loren's care, wisdom, and deftness as a filmmaker, interviewer, and editor...have been able to actually "dance" a definition of marriage that, I think, is universal and deeply authentic.  And at the same time, in this brief 6 minutes, they've been able to communicate a living, moving, breathing, deeply felt answer to the question: "why do you want/need to
marry..." that is heartbreakingly honest and real. 

This film takes my breath away, and in light of the national debate about whether
some marriages should even be legalized, it reminds me that I have lived a privileged life as a person who is able to act on my hopes and dreams...and marry freely.

I will let the message of Carrie and Jessica's wedding stand on its own merit through Loren's short, but powerful, film:
"The Wedding of Jessica Robinson Love and Carrie Baum Love"

In their celebration, Carrie and Jessica quote Daphne Rose Kingma:

"Marriage is love in the round.  Marriage is loving in every direction. 

"We marry not only to be loved, to be consoled through the miracle of company, to feel secure, to have a person and a place to whom we can come home to have our own needs met, we marry also to come into the presence of our own capacity to love...to nurture, to heal, to give, and to forgive.

"Marriage is an invitation to transcend the human condition.  For in stepping beyond the self-focus of wanting to have only our own needs met, in schooling ourselves in the experience of putting another human being, and his or her needs, in a position of equal value to our own, we touch the web of transcendence, the presence of the divine. "

I love this definition of marriage. It so closely aligns with my understanding of "why" we marry.  I believe that it is in the context of marriage...in this "us-ness" of committing ourselves to one another...that we begin to dissolve the skin-based boundaries of the "personal," and start to discover what it means to live out from the space of an un-selfed, better self.  And, sometimes this expansion of the "id" continues, and we begin to think, live, and love out from not only our partner, but our children.  First one, then two, three...eight...a family, a village. And like a balloon that stretches to a new form and can never go back to it former shape...we can never go back to living lives of self-centeredness and isolation. We are forever changed. 

The biological outlines that define us in terms of, "me" and "thee" begin to dissolve.  We are now larger, more inclusive, more expansive in our loving than we ever even imagined possible.  The "we" begins to include stepchildren, birthparents, grandparents, in-laws, the new spouses of former spouses....and on, and on.   We are no longer making decisions based on "me, me, me, or my and mine..."  But begin to think, speak, act our from a more expansive "us, our, we..."  We are no longer defined by our physiology, but by the size of our hearts, the reach of our spiritual and emotional bodies.

And this way of being in relationship, of being in the world, can only work if we truly love...generously, selflessly, purely.  Marriage, parenting, blended and expanding families must start with this kind of love. The love that Carrie and Jessica are talking about...the kind of love that lays down a limited, and limiting sense of identity for the opportunity to live for others. 

I have to ask myself, "Why would I ever want to stifle that kind of love?  Why would I want to compartmentalize it, sort it, and name it?  Why would I ever want to trivialize love by categorizing it as right love and wrong love?"  And I continue to ask myself, "Does Love know colors, genders, dogmas, creeds, body parts, or ethnicities?"  I have come to believe, that to Love, there really is,  

"...neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
- Galatians

I believe, that to God, the source of all good, love is love.  And anyone who has enough courage to say that they want to work at a loving relationship...devotedly, persistently, committedly...through the institution of marriage, has my prayers. I trust that God, in His omnipotent grace and gentle wisdom, is guiding us all in the path of His appointing. It is not mine to judge anyone else's journey, only to watch what fills my own heart, since my heart is all that I can ever really keep watch over anyway.

As Carrie's aunt says in the film:

"To me love is still the most precious thing in the world,
and maybe the hardest to achieve. 
I wish them love, always."

As I watch this, yet again, I am struck by Carrie and Jessica's inclusion of "Amazing Grace" as part of their sacred celebration.  It makes sense to me tonight.  "Amazing Grace" was written in 1773, by John Newton, captain of a, then legally sanctioned, slave transport ship.  One night a terrible storm battered his vessel so severely that he became frightened enough to call out to God for mercy, a moment that marked the beginning of his spiritual conversion. This was his heart's song of repentance pouring out in notes, and words, and gratitude for  grace...amazing grace.   A grace that eventually spread...with the help of his ministry, his friends, and this song...through a society, a country, the civilized world.  And because of his heart's penitent awakening, today, slavery is abolished.  And men, and women, of color are free. 

Freedom still burns as a hunger in the hearts of men and women.  The freedom to love whom we love, and make promises to them, before God...without fear of judgment and persecution.  I believe that it is this longing to free ourselves from self-absorption, and the right to live immersed in devotion and affection, that urges us towards greater compassion and grace.

I believe that when we unite with another, we free ourselves from boundaries of the ego, and move more largely and expansively in the world.  We give wings to our hopes, hopes that we might just be more than isolated physical bodies, and we become defined. more closely, with the ways we yield self for the greater good of the "us."  We cease to be lost in ourselves and discover that we have found our own brilliance, in celebrating another's good...their dreams, hopes, talents, and interests.

I wish us,
all of us, love...always...unending love, amazing grace,

Kate Robertson, CS

a friend sent this quote to me tonight:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
- Anais Nin

Namaste my friend, k.


  1. Namaste...thank you for courageously letting this post blossom and for honoring the love in all.

  2. Anonymous11:40 AM

    "I have to ask myself, "Why would I ever want to stifle that kind of love? Why would I want to compartmentalize it, sort it, and name it? Why would I ever want to trivialize love by categorizing it as right love and wrong love?" And I continue to ask myself, "Does Love know colors, genders, dogmas, creeds, body parts, or ethnicities?" I have come to believe, that to Love, there really is,

    "...neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,
    there is neither male nor female:
    for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
    - Galatians

    I believe, that to God, the source of all good, love is love."

    Well said....and so true!
    Thank you.

  3. thank YOU Loren...I love you with all I am...

  4. Anonymous9:26 PM

    love you,

  5. Here is a note that I received from Carrie (attached to it is a blog post from her sister:

    Hi Kate,
    I hope this finds you well!!

    I wanted to share with you this writing that my sister did for a blog post. ...and I shared yours with her which she loved!! :))

    thanks & love,

    A Wedding to Remember

    “That was my first wedding ever!” my six-year old daughter said after going to my sister’s wedding. “Mine too!” said my nine-year old son. He didn’t remember the two weddings he had attended as a baby. This was the first wedding they would remember.

    So this is the wedding against which they will measure other weddings. It is so unfair. All those other weddings will pale in comparison. I’m sure of it, although my kids don’t know yet. They don’t realize how unusual of a wedding it was.

    Unusual because my sister is a professional musician and wrote the processional and recessional.

    Unusual because my sister, an accomplished rock guitarist, played “Here Comes the Bride” Jimi Hendrix style as her beloved walked down the aisle.

    Unusual because my sister and her beloved have so many friends who are musicians and performers that the couple was accompanied by drums and guitars as they walked down the aisle. (Seriously, it was like a movie.)

    Unusual because I was the officiant. I am not a rabbi, but I officiated at the Jewish wedding under the chuppah, wearing a yarmulke and my father’s prayer shawl.

    These are the details that made this wedding unlike any other. The fact that my sister’s beloved is a woman? That is barely worth mentioning. It’s not what made the day so special and so unusual.

    Except maybe it is. In a world that has not always validated their love, Carrie and Jessica spent much more time thinking about their vows than most heterosexual couples I know. There was no default setting, no unconsciousness. Every detail was measured and thoughtfully considered. They included as many people as they could in the ceremony; they invited people to sing, to read, and to bless. They passed their rings around so their friends and family could infuse the gold with their hopes and dreams for the couple. No-one knows more than Carrie and Jessica about the importance of a tribe, of having your relationship supported and carried by the people who love you.

    Everyone who was there felt it. We were all blessed by the love shared by this couple, a love that did not exclude us or ask us to watch it jealously from afar. It was a love that reached out to us, that not only brought us all in, but included us in its circle. We all felt it and were graced by it. It was magical.

    I’m glad that this was my children’s first wedding of memory. It has set a high standard for them. It modeled that love is the most amazing gift and that it can be shared widely. It demonstrated that if you speak and live from your own truth, you will not fail. I can think of nothing greater I want for them than to walk this path, whatever their particular aisle may look like.

    My sister has a short video of her day. I was unsure about putting it out in the wild west of the internet, since I am protective of the people I love, but my sister and her bride continue to be expansive in their belief that love can include all of us.