"So, Rachel, how's school?"
Reflections on 17 Tammuz

Homily for Michael and Emily

Several friends have asked me to share the text of the homily I offered at the wedding of two dear friends this past weekend. With the happy couple's permission, I am glad to do so.

The whole weekend was a delicious treat. I'm honored to have been able to craft a wedding for and with Mike and Emily, and am still basking in the glow of their togetherness. A million mazal tovs to everyone involved!



Williams Trivia ... is what brings us together ... today.

No, really, it is. Because Williams Trivia -- that all-night festival of silliness and geekery -- is how Emily and Mike met, and that meeting has changed all of our lives. Who could have dreamed that something this wonderful, and lasting, would emerge from the tinny broadcast of WCFM, 91.9 Williamstown? Trivia planted the seeds of a friendship; and that friendship grew into romance; and today we gather to mark the blossoming of that romance into marriage.

Some of the wisest words I know about marriage come from the writer Madeleine L'Engle. She wrote:

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.

I love that quote. I try to use it as often as I can! But it seems particularly fitting here today.

"When love is not possession, but participation." Over the years I've known you, I've watched your relationship flourish in this way. While the two of you share passions, you also each burn with your own internal fires.

And you are brave and wise enough to understand that love, and time, and fire, are not zero-sum games. Emily, when you immerse yourself in the study of religion -- Mike, when you dive into the fugue state of composing -- you renew your selves, and you share your selves, and in so doing you make your partnership stronger.

This, L'Engle says, is the "co-creation which is our human calling." In your life together, you co-create a family, and a household, and a home. I can think of nothing greater.

In the months leading up to this wedding, I asked each of you to tell me about the other, and about how you came to know that this was your path. Emily, you spoke about being in Australia, realizing that you wanted to share the amazing, funny, bizarre moments of your trip with someone. With your sisters, naturally -- and with Mike. That was your first clue that this friendship was deeply important, one you deeply wanted to keep.

Mike, you described Emily with a dozen sweet adjectives -- and then told me that she’s irreducible; you love her for the whole of who she is. You told me that she tempers you, and noted that though you're whole without her, you're more whole with her.  That's the kind of partnership to which we all aspire.

Emily, there's something else you said that really sticks with me. You told me that marriage feels like "starting something big and adventurous that will lead who knows where... Every day when we come home, I want to empty my pockets and show him the shells I found, and every day he does the same." I can think of no greater blessing than this.

Marriage is a leap of faith. It's an act of profound optimism, a risk and a surprise. It's constant, and it's always-changing. It's a journey, and a symphony, and a feast.

Each of you has found, in the other, a fellow-traveler; a companion; someone to lean on and laugh with, to cook for and dance with.

May you be blessed, today and every day, with an awareness of just how remarkable this marriage is -- how lucky you are to have found one another -- and how lucky all of us are, to be a part of your life together.

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