The month of June initiates more than one season on our island. The solstice, of course, means the beginning of the summer season. The beginning of summer means the tourist season is entering full swing with all the bane and blessing this means for us year-rounders. With the beginning of summer also comes the destination wedding season and all the color and excitement of multiple marriages being solemnized every weekend at various venues all over the island. For a person of my age, it is a curious phenomenon that most weddings now occur in open fields, at lighthouses, on the beach, under ancient copper beech trees and not very often in church sanctuaries. In place of Wagner and Lohengrin, arrangements from Stevie Wonder and The Beatles are more apt to be heard in processionals and recessionals
Over the years, I have come to understand a healthy marriage as not just the union in life partnership of two individuals, but also as a resource, as a well, perhaps, where others can come and draw upon its strength. A loving relationship between marriage partners might also become a safe place for friends and family and others to rest, feel understood, to be nurtured, when life is stressful. More obviously, a healthy marriage is a good place in which children can grow up feeling loved and secure and where elders may support one another as they age. Whether solemnized in public ritual or un-witnessed in a private commitment, in a religious ceremony in a sanctuary or in a civil ceremony in front of a judge, a carefully, consciously considered marriage has the potential to be a place of harmony and order through which the world around it may be blessed.
In Richard Rohr’s meditation from The Center for Contemplation and Action this morning, there are reflections about “ the lifelong challenge and gift of conscious, committed love, drawing insights from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin”:
“…conscious love leads two lovers beyond themselves toward a greater connectedness with the whole of life. Indeed, two people’s love will have no room to grow unless it develops this larger focus beyond themselves. The larger arc of a couple’s love reaches out toward a feeling of kinship with all of life, what Teilhard de Chardin calls “a love of the universe.” Only in this way can love, as he puts it, “develop in boundless light and power.” (Teilhard de Chardin, Human Energy, trans. J. M. Cohen (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1969, 84.)
So the path of love expands in ever-widening circles. It begins at home—by first finding our seat, making friends with ourselves, and discovering the intrinsic richness of our being, underneath all our ego-centered confusion and delusion. As we come to appreciate this basic wholesomeness within us, we find that we have more to give to an intimate partner.
Further, as a [couple] become[s] devoted to the growth of awareness and spirit in each other, they will naturally want to share their love with others. The new qualities they give birth to—generosity, courage, compassion, wisdom—can extend beyond the circle of their own relationship. These qualities are a couple’s “spiritual child”—what their coming together gives to the world. . . .
From there, a couple’s love can expand still further, as Teilhard suggests. The more deeply and passionately two people love each other, the more concern they will feel for the state of the world in which they live. They will feel their connection with the earth and a dedication to care for this world. . . . Radiating out to the whole of creation is the farthest reach of love and its fullest expression, which grounds and enriches the life of the couple. This is the great love and the great way, which leads to the heart of the universe. (John Welwood, Journey of the Heart: The Path of Conscious Love (HarperPerennial: 1990), 206-207.)
My hunch is that very few couples who decide to marry actually do it with the intent of becoming a “radiating love” that will affect the world. Sometimes it just happens by virtue of who the couple is -but more often, perhaps, the notion of a committed and growing relationship in behalf of the world may need to be introduced into the consciousness of the couple to be intentionally nourished as part of their commitment to each other. Those of us who have the honor and privilege of walking with couples through the process of preparing for marriage could consider introducing the possibility into their thinking.
My mind often goes back to the ancient relationship between Abraham and Sarah and the Holy One who placed a claim on their lives as an aging couple.As the Holy One commissions them to “go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house” the commission continues with “I will bless you…you will be a blessing…in you all the families of earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Their lives unfold in some wild and wooly ways as the narrative takes shape, perhaps not the best model for a marriage today - - but the intention in the commission is what is important - as God’s people in the world, they are blessed to be a blessing. It invokes a certain level of consciousness about the power of love in a relationship to bless all who come into its presence.
It is the beginning of the height of the traditional wedding season. May all who enter into the sacred contract of marriage with one another be blessed with the awareness of their potential to bless the world with their love.