My strategy was….appear totally overwhelmed and unorganized…so that the family just takes over and looks after things. The only thing was – it wasn’t just appearances - I was in fact totally overwhelmed and unorganized. So, it was a damn good thing my family knows how to make a party happen without being told what to do.
I was not prepared to be swept up by this wave of love. I was expecting to be “in charge” and doing things and giving direction like I’m used to doing at ceremonies and events I organize. Instead, it was like I was swept off my feet, lifted overhead, and carried through the 24 hrs. (I know, I know, hard to imagine me not crushing those beneath me - but in fact I was - weightless.)
The idea was to keep it simple. But of course, keeping it simple is complicated.
Whenever Lynn and I spoke of a wedding – as the Spirit kept weaving it’s pattern in and through our lives – we tossed away more ideas than we kept.
“It has to be FUN!” was Lynn’s mantra on the subject.
The setting was never in doubt. The home we were creating at 3 brothers falls was the obvious choice. God is with us all-ways and everywhere of course. But we find that our hearts/minds/bodies especially open up to god’s presence as we walk and work the land beside the Burnout River north of Kinmount.
The labyrinth Lynn made there (with my help) is the sacred center of our self-centered universe. So, creating a ceremony to celebrate “us”, just had to be there.
And drumming was a must. We booked Bazza as soon as we’d landed on a date. He showed up Saturday and began working his Shaman-like magic on the guests – loosening them up with laughter and rhythm and the play-full-ness of letting music pull us into the making of a community circle.
Our two families had never been together in one place. Lynn’s kids were pre-occupied with containing the streaming energies of their wee children and my family was busy pulling together dinner preparations – so there wasn’t a lot of mixing happening at first. It was only when the drums came out around the campfire that the spirit started its weaving.
Who would we ask to conduct the ceremony? Who would offer the words and guide us through? It’s not a simple question when you know and love dozens of clergy. We wanted our clergy-family to be our family and not our Minister that day. The answer was the closest at hand. The Reverend Desmond Howard, our Irish Presbyterian wizard and wordsmith lives with the beautiful Colleen just down the road. They’d walked with us through the complications of our Bobcaygeon lives un-ravelling as true and trusted friends. It was just so fitting for Desmond to help us with the tying together of this knot.
This ceremony was a tying together of any loose ends left by the broken bonds behind us. The raw ends of the marriages that ended were now being woven into a new pattern. The doubts that anyone might hold about us, the hurts that people might hold, the fears that flitter about like moths – now would be met by a tightly woven weave of fearless, free, eternally-born love.
…from the ceremony…
Couples’ Questions: As your former lives unraveled,
the spirit began to weave a new pattern in your lives.
Tell us about this new pattern.
Have you found healing in this relationship?
yes we have
Have you found affirmation & spiritual nurture?
yes we have
Have you found unconditional love?
yes we have
Family’s intent: This couple found gracious acceptance from you, their families
during the complicated unraveling of their lives
Your desire to see them happy & strong
Your encouragement for each of them to listen
to their heartsongs through the noise and mess,
was a part of the new pattern’s weaving
Men to stand
Are you willing to be woven into the pattern
in your continuing to be there for allan?
yes we will
Women to stand
Are you willing to be woven into the pattern
in your continuing to be there for lynn?
yes we will
Lynn’s children broke our hearts wide open with music. After we’d been invited into the drum circle by the two families. After Desmond had set the scene with kind words about our partnership. After he’d awakened us to the spirit’s presence in the four directions. There was music.
Son Seth offered up his surprise rendition of Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with the circle spontaneously joining the chorus. I wrapped my arms around my bride as the tears streamed to keep me from floating off, from melting down, from disappearing into ecstasy’s eternal moment that cannot be held by any power except death. In other words “he killed”.
And then I put my family to the test. Did they really love me? They’d caused me to question their love by refusing to move their chairs from a circle to a semi-circle. I asked nicely and they all just said “no – we like where we’re sitting”. But they redeemed themselves (in my eyes) by providing an unrehearsed reading of a skit I’d given them that morning. My brother even used a puppet for the first time.
The wedding at Cana from John 2 provided the skit’s setting as our story was woven into the transformation from the life-giving waters of friendship into the intoxicating wine of our shared passions.
Not only was this a carefully crafted “test” of their love, it also gave them symbolically a “role” in the ceremony just as they all have a “role” in my life. Also, it took the attention off of Lynn and I for a few minutes and let them share in the embarrassment of being the center of attention for something you’re not entirely prepared for. (could one ever be totally prepared for transformation?)
And so, to the center of the center. While Desmond wrapped a woven cord around our criss-crossed joined hands, we spoke these words…
Lynn: May this ridiculous love I have for you, continue to heal you and warm the deep places inside you.
Allan: May this love that has woven our lives together, continue to tickle your fancy and spark that laughter that heals us all.
May this ridiculous love I have for you, ignite your imagination and your creativity. May this ridiculous love always be “home” in your heart.
May this love that has woven our lives together, provide you with the security you need to take risks and pursue the adventures of your heart.
May God’s ridiculous love that loves you through me, keep you amazed and wondering.
May this love that has woven our lives together, continue to grow wild and free so that it takes us beyond the bounds of what we’ve known so far.
together: MAY THIS LOVE BLESS US
as long as the rivers run,
as long as the sun rises,
as long as the four winds blow,
as long as there are flowers and berries to enjoy
UNTIL THE EARTH CLAIMS US
AND WE BEGIN A NEXT ADVENTURE.
We all were lifted up in this outpouring of love and it was as if an angel was playing a harp. (it was Hannah in fact who’d lugged her harp all the way from Ottawa just for this moment.)
We exchanged rings. Son David was supposed to carry the rings to us but was just too overwhelmed (like his dad) by the whole thing and stayed stuck to the front porch of the cabin.
And Hollee sang “our song”. We’d struggled with how to provide accompaniment for her. Two brothers bailed saying “we don’t play jazz”. Her Alberta brother provided the soundtrack with the voice channel removed which we thought was the solution. But when the technology failed – it ended up being just Bazza with his drum and Hollee’s voice.
It was just too perfect a moment. A river of tears began flowing from the first words. Hollee –facing us- took one look and immediately turned her back – unable to face the burning bush of our all-consuming love.
Tears were broken by laughter as I spotted son David up on the porch in a full-blown groove; arms swinging wide in giant claps to the rhythm, body rocking and his face beaming god’s joy on us all.
To literally ground us, to complete the weave, we visited each member of this family circle. Each gave us a rock and a blessing. We took the gathered stones and placed them at the labyrinth’s center. Desmond turned these stones into a cairn with a pouring of river water and an invitation for all to continue adding to this cairn as they visited in the coming years.
We unraveled the circle, leading our family to the campfire where they added sticks to the fire of our passions.
Just before we cut the cake my sister had prepared, I thanked everyone and asked “what could possibly make this time more perfect?”. To which they answered “cake!”.
We’re still riding the wave of love as we head off into the sunset – on our way to Alberta to share the ceremony – re-enact the knot-tying and ring-exchanging with son Tim & family.
September 21st we’ll stir up the embers and have a love-fest at George Street Church on the last day of summer’s glow. Please come if you possibly can.