My friend Ian has asked me to speak at his wedding tomorrow. Here’s part of what I’m going to say:
In tough times, you will remember how you waited a good third of your life to find each other: this memory will be a constant catalyst for healing and reconciliation – it will remind you that your sensitive and deep-rooted love is far greater than any differences that may arise.
Know that sometimes marriage can be like a series of earthquakes. There;s a rule I want you always to remember – let’s call it the earthquake rule: when you find a fault, don’t dwell on it.
Marriage is a continual stream of ripples and waves, just like little earthquakes. But the reality of marriage is that you may not always be on each other’s wavelength. Tolstoy said it well: What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.
See, marriage isn’t about thinking alike, but thinking together. This means that rather than always being on the same wavelength, you’ll simply need to ride along with each others waves. When those magnitude 7.5 earthquakes rock your world, the marriage commitment keeps you together until the dust settles and you fall back in love again.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull author Eric Segal said love means never having to say you’re sorry. When I first heard that, I thought.. that’s nonsense! Married people do stupid things all the time – we always need to forgive each other. But as I thought more about it, I realized the truth in this saying. Forgiveness in a healthy marriage becomes more than words – more than an occasional conversation. Forgiveness becomes a state of being. The words forgiveness and marriage become almost interchangeable.
Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu said marriage is three parts love and seven parts forgiveness. The late Ruth Graham said a happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers. Ian and Kristin, never forget what is worth remembering. And never remember what is best forgotten.
Chief Seattle said this: the Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.
Chief Seattle’s words are a lot like marriage. Marriage means you are no longer in control. You now belong to each other – you are connected in a mysterious, spiritual manner where two beings become united into one body and one heart. You, Ian, now belong to Kristin, and Kristin you now belong to Ian.
In ancient times, sacrifices were made on the altar. We’re continuing that custom today. Marriage is the ultimate sacrifice of our autonomy. In what might be the most mystical chapter of the New Testament, Jesus says,
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are –
I in them and you in me.
That they’ll be matured in this oneness
(Jn 17, The Message)
In language that can only be called deeply metaphysical, Jesus takes us into a place of unrestrained unity, where all duality is banished in God’s singular light. Marriage is a profound opportunity to overcome our separate lives and to seek something more than physical unity. We have the opportunity to seek a spiritual unity in which two become one in every respect.