May 24th, 2015
On Staying Open to Making Memories
This is about my 40th wedding as an officiant, or serving in some official role. I learned at wedding number 6 that wedding reflections, sermons, homilies, what have you, should be three things: short, witty, and touching.
No one is here to see me. They’re here to see you two. Or at least Joseph’s hair. Or the pony.
As with everything I do, I’ll shoot for two out of three.
And as I was thinking about today, I realized that, JS, we’ve known one another longer than we haven’t known one another. We’ve been friends for longer than we’ve not been friends. Memories came flooding back for me of those crossroads in Startown, North Carolina. We met when we were 12 and instantly bonded over our apathy toward the Atlanta Braves.
And I remember hanging out at our houses, with a bunch of these guys here. I remember listening to Boys 2 Men and All 4 One and a bunch of other R&B bands with numbers in their names for hours.
I mean, the memories kept coming.
By the way, this is where I was going to include a reference to the play Cats, when talking about memories, but I was advised by someone I trust that it would say more about me than I want to say, so I won’t…
And two years ago when you introduced Rhonda and me to Joseph, I had this feeling that one day Joseph and my family would be able to say that we’ve been friends for longer than we haven’t.
And, judging by our age, we just might make it…I look forward to that future.
And when I tell my sons, ages 2 years old and 4 months old…who I wish could be here because, really, they are party animals…especially that younger one…he’s up all night. When I tell them about this day, and about all the remarkable things about today: celebrity singers and musicians, a pony, and the amazing love between their Uncle JS and their Uncle Joseph, I am happy to say that the least remarkable thing for them will be that they live in a country where their Uncles can marry and enjoy the full rights and joy of marriage.
And I give thanks to God for that. I can’t wait for that to be a distant memory for all.
And today I can’t help but remember your mom, JS. She would have loved this. Joseph: she would have loved you.
And, like me, she would have loved your Twitter feed.
And it is not lost on me that she should and would be the one standing here. It is a great honor for me to fill this role for her.
But enough remembering the past; let’s start imagining the future. Because that is what we’re leaning into today, and every moment I guess. And as you lean into the future after today, JS and Joseph, you do so declaring for the world that “you are more when you’re together than you are when you’re apart,” as the song goes.
But I will warn you that it won’t always feel that way. Intellectually we know this, but in this moment, as the butterflies…or ponies, I guess…are fluttering about in our stomachs we can’t imagine life without the other one.
But sometimes you will. And that’s just honest. I mean, one of the reasons we get married is not because we will always feel like we’re in love. Life has a way of playing with our minds and emotions and causing all sorts of disruptions in us.
One of the reasons, maybe the primary reason, we marry is so that we’ll stay together until we fall in love again.
I was reading Business Insider this week—it’s where I get all of my relationship advice—and they had an article about what makes for a good relationship. Seriously. It was in Business Insider. Because, that makes sense, right?
Anyway, don’t read the article because I’m going to summarize it for you because I think it’s true: what keeps us together in marriage isn’t that we’re always in love, it’s that we’re always open to the possibility of loving the other person. It’s that we’re interested in looking for their love and giving them love and being loved and leaning into that possibility.
And there’s no advice anyone can give you to make that happen. No trick. That openness must be from inside. And it’s an openness that comes from embracing not just the exciting parts of life, but also the boring parts of life. You lean into the boring in marriage, and that doesn’t sound exciting, but trust me, it’s a great adventure.
Robert Frost’s poem “The Master Speed” is one of my favorites, much better than that trite one about a fork in the road and choosing the unbeaten path. I generally assume there’s a reason a path isn’t well traveled; it’s probably boring or has bears or leads to Old Navy or something.
But “The Master Speed” is a great piece of work. It’s about married life, and in it Frost claims that the lovebirds, the married ones, know a secret: “master speed.” And it’s basically the supersonic speed where you realize that the mundane is sacred. That the beautiful is ordinary. Where standing still together means more than moving quickly when you’re apart.
Indulge me for just a moment with it:
No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste,
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still–
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar
Although I can’t imagine either of you being ordinary, in marriage you will, you must find the beauty in the ordinary, the power of standing still, the master speed.
Every ordinary moment has an infinity of meaning because you are choosing to do the ordinary together moving forward.
Open to one another forever. Together.
And that, my friends, is what makes memories: being open to having them made.
So, Joseph and John Stuart, let’s make a memory together. Wing to wing and oar to oar. Are you ready?