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."
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.