Ceremony
 

Opening Words by the Officiant, Tad Beckman

It is my honor to welcome you to the wedding celebration of Zachary Simpson and Kenzie Grubitz. Zach and Kenzie have thought a great deal about this moment in which they will become husband and wife. They have created a ceremony that is meaningful to them and that will demonstrate their mutual understanding of the ceremonial recognition of their marriage. Again, welcome. We are honored by your participation.

 

Giving in Marriage

Tad: Zach, is it true that you come of your own free will and accord?

Zach: Yes, it is true.

Tad: With whom do you come and whose blessings accompany you?

Pam: He comes with me, his mother, and is accompanied by all of his family’s blessings.

 

Tad: Kenzie, is it true that you come of your own free will and accord?

Kenzie: Yes, it is true.

Tad: With whom do you come and whose blessings accompany you?

Gary and Kelsie: She comes with her father and mother, and is accompanied by all of her

family’s blessings.

 

Excerpt from Dine Bahane, read by Gary Simpson, Zach’s Father

The Sun wishes to marry Changing Woman.  At first he attempts to woo her by showing her the things he has done for her.  With this, she refuses.  Then he explains that her son had promised that they would be together.  With this, she also refuses, explaining that she speaks for herself.  With this, he realizes his more practical appeals have failed, and the following exchange takes place.

 

He said to her: “Come with me to the west and make a home for me.

“I am lonely.

“Each day I labor long and hard alone in the sky.  I have no one to talk with.  I have no companion for my nights.

“What good is all that I do if I must endure my days and nights all alone?  What use is male without female?  What use is female without male?  What use are we two without one another?”

That is what the Sun said to Changing Woman.

She did not answer him at once, leaving another space of silence between his words and her reply.

Then at last she spoke.  And this is what she said to him:

….

“You are male and I am female.

“You are of the sky and I am of the earth.

“You are constant in your brightness, but I must change with the seasons.

“You move constantly at the edge of heaven, while I must remain fixed in one place.

….

“Remember, as different as we are, you and I, we are of one spirit.  As dissimilar as we are, you and I, we are of equal worth.  As unlike as you and I are, there must always be solidarity between the two of us.  Unlike each other as you and I are, there can be no harmony in the universe as long as there is no harmony between us.

“If there is to be such harmony, my requests must matter to you.  My needs are as important to me as yours are to you.  My whims count as much as yours do.  My fidelity to you is measured by your loyalty to me.  My response to your needs is to reflect the way you respond to mine.  There is to be nothing more coming from me to you than there is from you to me.  There is to be nothing less.”

That is what the Changing Woman said to the Sun on the summit of the Giant Spruce Mountain.

At first he gave no reply.  He took time to weight carefully all things that she had said.

Then, slowly, thoughtfully, he drew close to her.

Slowly and thoughtfully he placed his arm around her.

And this time she allowed him to do so.

….

So it is that she agreed; they would go to a place in the west where they would dwell together in the solid harmony of kinship.

 

Comment by Tad Beckman

This is a wonderful reading about friendship, taken out of the Navajo creation story. There is the need we feel between male and female and the need we all feel for companionship. But it is also pointed out that Sun and Changing Woman are completely different. Sun is eternal in his movement across the sky to his evening rest in the West. But Changing Woman is of the earth, where she changes with the seasons and moves in diverse ways and at her will. Yet, in the end, they unite. How does this come about?

 

It is meaningful that it comes about through dialogue. Changing woman acknowledges that they are separate and different beings, but she also makes it clear that they are of equal worth. For, as she says, they are of one spirit and there must always be solidarity between them. Their movement toward harmony will be a realization of the harmony of the universe.

 

Officiant’s Speech by Tad Beckman

Zach and Kenzie have asked me to make some comments on love and marriage at this time in the ceremony. I have thought a lot about this moment. Actually, I’ve had more than a year to think about this. But I find myself somewhat speechless in the face of this assignment. After all, who am I to say anything original or inspiring about this subject?

 

What amazes me most about love and marriage, I suppose, is how hard we try and how thoroughly we are invested in it. Just look around wherever you are and what you see is people together – some of them just starting out, some already there, and sadly some well beyond. The need for being with someone, for sharing life, is pretty obvious.

 

But “love” – what is that? Isn’t it a mysterious undoing of ourselves, a wandering in some new world, an enchantment?  But there are very high stakes. There is tremendous vulnerability. Why would any sensible person risk this? The answer, I think, is that life isn’t life without it. While our parents give us physical life, we grasp a spiritual life ourselves by taking the risk of loving another.

 

Zach and Kenzie, there are two lessons I have learned in my own loving marriage that I want to share with you. The first of these comes out of ancient philosophy and remains true to our own time.

 

In his dialogue, Symposium, Plato offers several accounts of love. In the voice of his mentor Socrates, he tells us that love is the great teacher of virtue, and by that he meant truth, beauty, and goodness.

 

I remember once giving a talk on engineering education to the Board of Trustees at a Harvey Mudd College retreat. I picked the topic of Plato’s Idea of the Good; and, as I recall, I told them quite seriously that education of all varieties – arts,  humanities, sciences, yes even engineering – is really just a sustained discussion of truth, beauty, and goodness. The temperature of the room dropped around fifteen degrees!

 

Well, at 73 years, I still believe that stuff. And what else could marriage be but a sustained and active discourse on truth, beauty, and goodness?  Mind you, I am not so naïve as to continue belief in Plato’s Theory of Ideas, and the Idea of the Good lacks reality for me now. But try as I may, I cannot think of three other more important ingredients of life, more central to relationships. What successful relationships have any of you known that were based on falsehood, ugliness, and badness?

 

So, to make a long story short, what Plato was pushing Socrates to tell us is that love is the great teacher of virtue. Because, in love and through love, we are conducted to these very elements of virtue. And what is marriage? I think that it is the institution that protects love as that teacher.

 

The second lesson I have in mind is a little more obscure and a little bit more modern. It starts in Nietzsche’s Die froeliche Wissenschaft, Book III, aphorism #109, to be exact. What the world is is an individual thing. Each of us creates a world out of the chaos that is. But we go through life assuming that there is a common world that we all experience. The intimacy of love and marriage is one of the few ways in which we actually experience the merging of foreign, individual and different worlds.

 

I used to think that my wife was crazy, of course. How could she possibly have interpreted such-and-such in that way? But then I began to see that her world was really fundamentally different from mine. And then I made the crucial choice. I allowed her her world. That is, I respected our differences.

 

When we were married, the dear friend who married us proclaimed that we should make our marriage a platform from which we could each discover our separate paths and our separate selves. In this sense, marriage itself is not a completion or fulfillment but, rather, a beginning and a release. Each gives to the other a basis and foundation from which to explore and fulfill his/her own world.

 

Zach and Kenzie, I know that your union will be this kind of relationship and I am so pleased to witness your marriage today.

 

Asking of Marriage for Zach and Kenzie

Tad: Do you Zach, take Kenzie as your lawful wife, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?

Zach: I do.

 

Tad: Do you Kenzie, take Zach as your lawful husband, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, so long as you both shall live?

Kenzie: I do.

 

Wedding Vows

Zach’s Vows

Kenzie,

Before our family, friends, the earth, sky, and the divine, I commit myself to you in marriage for the rest of our lives. 

 

Affirmations

Within this commitment, I honor the poetry and dancing grace with which you carry out your life;

I admire and affirm your independence and search for truth;

I recognize the beauty and creativity you bring to the world;

I join in your desire to bring depth and joy to the everyday.

 

Blessings for Kenzie

May this marriage bring you joy, meaning, and new challenges;

May I be responsive to your needs and movements;

May your life be creative through both the banal and the extraordinary;

May I give love freely, both in your sorrow and ecstasy.

 

Blessings for Us

May we care for and love each other in sickness, health, poverty, sadness, and happiness;

May we embrace our differences and nurture our sameness, neither in identity nor in isolation;

May our love meet the inevitable challenges and ills with courage and compassion;

May our lives together be harmonious, mirroring the harmony of the world.

 

Vows

For these things, I vow to love, honor, and respect you throughout the many phases of your life;

I shall remain faithful to you, not only through loyalty of mind, but through deed;

I will listen to, and follow, your dreams and desires;

I will give my love and life freely to you, your family, and friends, until death may part us.

 

Closing

Your love, and the life we have created and will continue to create, is a gift.  With these affirmations, blessings, and vows, I promise to love you and create with you for the rest of our lives.

 

Kenzie’s Vows

Zach,

Our marriage is my commitment to you, as well as to everyone here, that we will be one family and that we will support, respect, and love each other.

 

Affirmation of Zach

Because of you, my life has become more joyful.

Your love of living well has made me more healthy and content.

Your care for all living things has given me a new appreciation for the preciousness of life.

Your love of truth has inspired me to look at the world with honesty and courage.

 

Affirmation of Us

Together, we balance each other.

Together, we enjoy simple pleasures.

Together, we seek to add meaning to our world.

Together, we face the future with courage and receptive creativity.

 

Blessings

May we love each other joyfully as we discover new parts of each other.

May we continue to work towards our dreams and watch patiently for their fruition.

May we create a life together—tending a dwelling, nurturing others, cooking, loving, and        laughing.

May we always share a love for truth and beauty, and may we bring harmony to the world.

 

Vows

In the presence of the divine, the earth and sky, and this assembly, I take you to be my husband.

I promise to attend to the people and things you hold dear.

I promise to give you the space to be yourself and to share my whole self with you.

I promise to be loyal to you and to love you beyond reason.

 

Closing

With these affirmations, blessings, and vows, I promise to be your wife, in happiness and in sorrow, in abundance and in poverty, in health and in sickness, until we are parted by death.

 

Exchange of Rings

Tad: Now, Zach and Kenzie will exchange rings. Zach, please repeat after me…

Zach: Kenzie, I give this ring as a visible and constant symbol of my promise to be with you as long as I live. Wear it and think of me, and know that I love you.

Tad: Will you wear this ring in remembrance of this joyous day and the vows you have made?

Kenzie: I will.

 

Tad: Kenzie, please repeat after me…

Kenzie: Zach, I give this ring as a visible and constant symbol of my promise to be with you as long as I live. Wear it and think of me, and know that I love you.

Tad: Will you wear this ring in remembrance of this joyous day and the vows you have made?

Zach: I will.

 

The Marriage at Cana, read by Will Grubitz, Kenzie’s brother

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus and his disciples, along with his mother, Mary, are invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. As the apostle John states:

 

“When all the wine had been consumed by the guests, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no wine left.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘What concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’”

 

Comment by Tad Beckman

This reading from the Book of John celebrates the first miracle performed by Jesus of Nazareth. Fittingly, the miracle is performed at a wedding feast. It is naturally assumed that the guests, in their joyous celebration, will have drunk wine to excess. And the very best wine is now provided in this excess. Does this seem odd? Or does this speak to something inherent in love and marriage?

 

To Zach and Kenzie, this reading highlights the true nature of marriage. It is a culmination and realization of a loving process in which we are transformed. And in this the feelings rush forward in excess --- of love, of efforts, of happiness, and perhaps of suffering and even grief. The Greek God Dionysus reigns. Individuation is lost in intoxication and union of spirit and flesh.

 

Feasting is symbolic of transformation because, in the daily taking of food, we see the miracle of growth and health in our bodies. We should always honor the taking of food and make it a feast.

 

Similarly, marriage transcends the mere addition of one to another. In marriage we reach beyond to find something precious and new to ourselves.

 

Closing Thoughts by Tad Beckman

And so it is that we will now move to the marriage feast. Please join us in the hall behind you. Embrace this newly married couple; taste wonderful food; and drink heartily. The miracle of union is at hand.

 

Declaration of Marriage by Tad Beckman

Having listened to these readings and thoughts and having completed these vows and bindings through the exchange of rings, we recognize you, Zach and Kenzie, as husband and wife, and you may embrace as appropriate to your new station.

 

Introduction of the Newlyweds

Please welcome Kenzie Grubitz and Zachary Simpson as wife and husband. Then, on to the feast of celebration!