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Wedding Readings

From "Goodridge Vs. Department of Health" by Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall
Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations....Without question, civil marriage enhances the "welfare of the community." It is a "social institution of the highest importance." 

Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.... Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition. 
~ By Anne Morrow Lindbergh ~

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, mot in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.


by C.P. Cavafy
(translated from the Greek)

When you start on your journey to Ithaka,
pray that the road’s a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Do not fear the Cyclops and angry Poseidon -
you will never meet such things on your path
as long as your thoughts are exalted,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your body and your spirit.
Wild Poseidon, Cyclops -
you won’t encounter them
unless you carry them within your soul.

Pray that your road’s a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when -
full of gratitude, full of joy -
you come into harbors seen for the first time.
May you stop at Phoenician markets
and buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfumes of every kind.
May you visit numerous Egyptian cities
to fill yourself with learning from the wise.

Keep Ithaka always in mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it goes on for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would never have set out.
She has nothing more to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
With the great wisdom you’ll have gained, with so much experience,
you’ll understand by then what Ithaka means.

From “Instructions For Life In The New Millennium”

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
And that a loving atmosphere in your home
is the foundation for your life.

Be gentle with the earth,
be gentle with one another.

When disagreements come
remember always to protect the spirit of your union.

When you realize you’ve made a mistake,
take immediate steps to correct it.

Remember that the best relationship is one
in which your love for each other
exceeds your need for each other.

So love yourselves, love one another,
love all that is your life together
and all else will follow.

i  carry  your  heart  with  me

~ e.e. cummings ~

i  carry  your  heart  with  me  (i  carry  it  in my  heart)i  am  never  without  it(anywhere i  go  you  go,  my  dear;  and  whatever  is  done by  only  me  is  your  doing,  my  darling)

i  fear no  fate(for  you  are  my  fate,  my  sweet)i  want no  world(for  beautiful  you  are  my  world,  my  true) and  it's  you  are  whatever  a  moon  has  always  meant and  whatever  a  sun  will  always  sing  is  you

here  is  the  deepest  secret  nobody  knows (here  is  the  root  of  the  root  and  the  bud  of  the  bud and  the  sky  of  the  sky  of  a  tree  called  life;  which  grows higher  than  the  soul  can  hope  or  mind  can  hide) and  this  is  the  wonder  that's  keeping  the  stars  apart

i  carry  your  heart  (i  carry  it  in  my  heart)

“TO BE WITH EACH OTHER” by George Eliot
What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?


You have become mine forever.
Yes, we have become partners.
I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you.
Do not live without me.
Let us share the joys.
We are word and meaning, unite.
You are thought and I am sound.

May the nights be honey-sweet for us.
May the mornings be honey-sweet for us.
May the plants be honey-sweet for us.
May the earth be honey-sweet for us.

Transforming  Power

~ Lau Tzu ~

   Your  love  contains  the  power Of  a  thousand  suns. It  unfolds  as  naturally  and  effortlessly As  does  a  flower, And  graces  the  world  with  its  blooming. Its  beauty  radiates  a  transforming  energy That  enlivens  all  who  see  it. Because  of  you,  compassion  and  joy Are  added  to  the  world. That  is  why  the  stars  sing  together Because  of  your  love.

From:  The  Irrational  Season  

~ Madeleine L'Engle ~

But  ultimately  there  comes  a  moment  when  a  decision  must  be  made.  Ultimately  two people  who  love  each  other  must  ask  themselves  how  much  they  hope  for  as  their  love grows  and  deepens,  and  how  much  risk  they  are  willing  to  take...It  is  indeed  a  fearful gamble...Because  it  is  the  nature  of  love  to  create,  a  marriage  itself  is  something  which has  to  be  created,  so  that,  together  we  become  a  new  creature.

To  marry  is  the  biggest  risk  in  human  relations  that  a  person  can  take...If  we  commit ourselves  to  one  person  for  life  this  is  not,  as  many  people  think,  a  rejection  of  freedom; rather  it  demands  the  courage  to  move  into  all  the  risks  of  freedom,  and  the  risk  of  love which  is  permanent;  into  that  love  which  is  not  possession,  but  participation...It  takes a  lifetime  to  learn  another  person...When  love  is  not  possession,  but  participation, then  it  is  part  of  that  co-­creation  which  is  our  human  calling,  and  which  implies  such risk  that  it  is  often  rejected.

by Margaret Atwood

Marriage is not
a house, or even a tent

it is before that, and colder:

the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert
         the unpainted stairs
at the back, where we squat
outdoors, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far

we are learning to make fire.

Touched  By  an  Angel

~ Maya Angelou ~

We,  unaccustomed  to  courage exiles  from  delight live  coiled  in  shells  of  loneliness until  love  leaves  its  high  holy  temple and  comes  into  our  sight to  liberate  us  into  life.

Love  arrives and  in  its  train  come  ecstasies old  memories  of  pleasure ancient  histories  of  pain. Yet  if  we  are  bold, love  strikes  away  the  chains  of  fear from  our  souls. We  are  weaned  from  our  timidity In  the  flush  of  love's  light we  dare  be  brave And  suddenly  we  see

that  love  costs  all  we  are and  will  ever  be. Yet  it  is  only  love which  sets  us  free.

From:  The  Book  Of  Love ~ Rumi ~ The  minute  I  heard  my  first  love  story I  started  looking  for  you,  not  knowing How  blind  that  was. Lovers  don’t  finally  meet  somewhere They’re  in  each  other  all  along.

By Michael Blumenthal

You are holding up a ceiling
with both arms. It is very heavy,
but you must hold it up, or else
it will fall down on you. Your arms
are tired, terribly tired,
and, as the day goes on, it feels
as if either your arms or the ceiling
will soon collapse.

But then,
something wonderful happens:
a man or a woman,
walks into the room
and holds their arms up
to the ceiling beside you.

So you finally get
to take down your arms.
You feel the relief of respite,
the blood flowing back
to your fingers and arms.
And when your partner's arms tire,
you hold up your own
to relieve him again.

And it can go on like this
for many years
without the house falling.

So Much Happiness
by Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…..

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

The Invitation, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer 
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your hearts longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking a fool for love,
for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are square in your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed down from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving, to hide it, fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true yourself;
if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the moon in God’s presence.

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know, or how you came here.

I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in empty moments.

Union by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.


When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.

from Walt Whitman's “Song of the Open Road”
I do not offer the old smooth prizes, 
But offer rough new prizes, 
These are the days that must happen to you: 
You shall not heap up what is called riches, 
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve. 
However sweet the laid-up stores, 
However convenient the dwellings, 
You shall not remain there. 
However sheltered the port, 
And however calm the waters, 
You shall not anchor there. 
However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you 
You are permitted to receive it but a little while 
Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road, 
Healthy, free, the world before you, 
The long brown path before you, 
leading wherever you choose. 
Say only to one another: 
Camerado, I give you my hand! 
I give you my love, more precious than money, 
I give you myself before preaching or law: 
Will you give me yourself? 
Will you come travel with me? 
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?