December 16, 2000 ~ With This Ring, I Thee Wed
Our wedding was beautiful and perfect. The following is the transcript of the ceremony. Pictures and more journal entries coming soon!
I. A Prelude
Lisa Timberlake: (sings "If Music Be the Food of Love")
II. The Readings
Jeanne: (Introductory Readings) I Corinthians 13, a few excerpts from 1st John chapter 4.
III. A Story of the Birth of Love
Melissa: There are certain events in my life that are far too powerful and fateful to be considered mere coincidences. For these miracles, I can assign no cause other than the divine. This afternoon, Morgan and I would like to share with you a small taste of how two people, with no worldly contacts or connections and three thousand miles of terrain separating them, managed to fall in love without even meeting face to face.
Morgan: The Internet was all we had, and even that was tenuous. While surfing the web one day, I happened upon a link to an obscure and nearly vacant chatroom. I returned time and again to post messages into a void, for I had yet to find a live soul posting in that room at the same that time I was there. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being alone to compose, and there was something vaguely profound about my words slowly being erased as they were written. Someone noticed my cries into the darkness, however.
Melissa: I did not have an Internet connection at home, so I visited the public library to check my email and pop into the little chatroom a friend had created. I began to notice little messages posted in that chatroom by one very diligent visitor. Finally, one day I happened to visit the library at the same time that he, thousands of miles away, was whispering little messages to his keyboard in hopes that someone, somewhere, would come across them and be touched. In the months that followed that first encounter, a deeply spiritual and philosophical friendship evolved, based on long written conversations back and forth.
Morgan: I had, at length, fallen in love with this being whose mind and soul I knew only through the tiny glowing letters on a computer screen. After a time togethe…ªwe had questioned, strived, and built an identity for ourselves. Here there was no chance for a relationship that was built upon anything but the most vital element of ourselves. When you are reduced to twenty-six letters and a handful of symbols—when you are forced to boil down that most essential part of yourself--there is no mistaking when two souls meet.
The following is excerpts from our dialogue between souls.
["Bansuri" is Morgan's internet handle, "Dawntreader" is Melissa's]
Wednesday, July 15, 1998
Bansuri: I was very sad yesterday. I went to the coffee shop to meet Evan and ended up spending the night at his place.
When I was with Evan we sat and listened to some quiet music in his darkened house, and then we went and walked under the stars. The night was very cool and there was no breeze. There aren't any lights around Evan's property, so the stars were in plain sight. The moon was orange and large, and I could see the arm of the galaxy like a great arch across the sky. I saw a shooting star, and then just sat silent. Thinking.
Dawntreader: That sounds wonderful . . . he must be a great friend . . . what did you think about?
Bansuri: You mostly. And the human spirit.
Bansuri: I wondered what the chances were of seeing a streak of light in the night sky at just that moment. I wondered what the chances were of meeting you out of all the other people on the earth. Then I thought about God.
Dawntreader: . . . All the amazing little details that came together to cross our paths . . .
Bansuri: Evan reminded me that if one of the stars in the sky died, humanity would likely never know because of the distance. He said that some of those stars were already gone and that all we were seeing was old light.
Dawntreader: I think about that often. It makes me wonder about time--to think that I am looking at something from a million years ago when I look at a star.
Bansuri: Stars remind me of memories.
I've felt this intense emotion for quite some time, but I don't know why.
Dawntreader: Faith. Connections.
I have a sneaking suspicion that when you board your plane to leave after your visit . . . I will cry.
(After a moment . . .)
Bansuri: I think I might too.
(Another pause . . .)
Dawntreader: A meteor, though, a shooting star--that is the present. It is some rock that randomly connects with the atmosphere and burns away in an instant of glory.
Bansuri: Like human life, or a fleeting moment. All that life really is--fleeting moments and memories--old light.
I think maybe I'm mourning the distance between us.
Dawntreader: Less than two weeks and then the distance will be obliterated. But what afterwards . . . I fear to speculate.
(Pauses . . .)
At least it's beautiful. We are given that.
Bansuri: Of course it is. It is all too beautiful. The pain, the love, it's all perfect.
Dawntreader: And I plan to make the most of that beauty . . . Carpe Diem . . . Seize the Day.
Bansuri: I already feel as though I could cry.
Dawntreader: I wish I could see you--could hug you.
Bansuri: Just because of the struggle, and how much life is worth. So much that it hurts horribly.
Dawntreader: What is it that hurts, though?
Bansuri: And love.
I can't tell if it's joy or pain or both.
Bansuri: I guess that's what love is.
Dawntreader: I have believed for a long time--ever since I can remember--that the meaning of life is love. But maybe it's simpler than that: life is love and love is life.
The fact that two strangers find each other in a crowd and understand. And love.
Dawntreader: I wish I could see your eyes right now . . .
Bansuri: So whose sky are you in? Am I your shooting star, or are you mine?
Dawntreader: I feel very happy, but very sad, all at the same time.
Bansuri: I am the child that looks into the sky and, for a moment, all the old light is just a background. A streak of brilliance appears. Fleeting beauty, and the child is doomed. He's fallen in love with a shooting star.
Dawntreader: You know, everyone who cares about me would warn me against someone like you, and a relationship like this. It makes me feel poetically rebellious.
Bansuri: And who are they? And what does it matter? We are here now, and there is no "they" with us. It is this moment. The end will not matter because it will be right, and it will shape us.
Dawntreader: "They" is my family, my friends. And they do matter.
Bansuri: "They" will keep the child from flying too high to catch the shooting star. And that is right.
Dawntreader: This is going to sound hopelessly romantic and sentimental, but I think you could very well be the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. And there is so much more to share--so much more to know about each other.
This is why it hurts.
Bansuri: I feel the same. This time has been like a lens, and it has focused so much. And there is still more to come.
Dawntreader: I . . . love you . . . and saying that feels different now.
Bansuri: I love you too. And it feels right.
Melissa: That night I went home looking for a sign . . . I wanted to see a shooting star and attribute it to synchronicity. The night was mostly cloudy, and you can't see stars very well from the city anyway. So I thought myself rather silly to go out and look, but I did it anyway. I was boarding with a friend's family at the time, and that friend came out to join me. The clouds started to clear off, so I kept my eyes on the sky as she talked to me. She was gently warning me against having a relationship with someone so far away whom I had yet to meet face to face. She was concerned. At one point, she said something that made me slightly angry, so I turned to her, and as I did so, her face lit up and she smiled. She had seen my shooting star, and I had missed it. I looked away, disappointed. I thought that it was symbolically fitting, however, that when she was warning me against Morgan, I had missed my moment of beauty. I resolved myself right then to follow what I knew was right in this situation from then on, and not let others distract me from my fated path. I looked up just then, and a shooting star confirmed my resolution. I started to speak to my friend about the beauty and hope I had found talking with Morgan. I told her about how faith blossomed out of such a dialogue. I explained how deeply love had already rooted itself, and how I couldn't turn back now, how I couldn't believe that God would give me so much beauty only to expect me to turn it down. She was quiet for a few moments. "You know. . . It could be beautiful," she said. And she told me that perhaps I was right to follow the path I had seen. She was even a little bit jealous. We smiled at one another, and then both of our eyes strayed to the sky, where we both saw a brilliant shooting star, much brighter than the others. From that day onward, I have followed that shooting star across three thousand miles, an entire continent.
Jeanne: A shooting star is nothing but a meteor--a space rock traveling an apparently random path that just happens to intercept our small planet in its journey around the sun. At that juncture, it collides with the atmosphere of Earth, burning in an instant of glory, creating a flame of stardust across the night sky. This awe-inspiring display is like a single moment in one's life; filled with a paradox of pain and joy, suffering and beauty, fear and wonder all at once. Then, it too, dies and fades away, and it too becomes a memory--old light. What a coincidence that, in all that infinite distance present in the universe, those four meteors--his one her three--had just happened to be in a certain spot to blaze across their night sky at precisely the right moment to answer their fears and confirm their faith in the meaning inherent in every moment of life. For moments are beautiful meteors; they are shooting stars that are the blazing, thriving life of the present moment against the backdrop of the old light of memories. We retain old experiences in the form of memories so that we might remember that which we have learned. Every shooting star is different and carries with it a new lesson. The challenge lies in knowing the potential of each blazing meteor, so that one may respect the value with which, out of all the places in infinity it could be, it graced one's life in a moment of beauty and awe.
To have found each other in the darkness is a miracle.
Morgan: You, Melissa, are my shooting star.
Melissa: And you, Morgan, are mine.
IV. A Blessing
Jeanne: Friends, this is a celebration of love between two people whose separate ways have intersected and who now, before their family and friends, desire publicly to join their hands as they walk a single path through the lifelong commitment of marriage. We welcome you and give thanks for the ways that each of you have helped to mold Morgan and Melissa into the loving creatures they have become. It is fitting that the married lives of these two shooting stars begin with an invitation for your continued support, for this new relationship will continue to draw much of its beauty and meaning from the intimate associations of the past. Thus, to each of you witnesses present today, I ask:
Do you give your blessing to Morgan and Melissa, promising to do everything in your power to uphold them in their marriage? If so, please respond with a resounding, WE DO!
As Morgan and Melissa prepare to share not only their successes and joys, but also their failures and sorrows, their understanding and acceptance of one another will surely blossom. This afternoon, as they make public their intentions to abide with one another through life's gifts and challenges, the gentle faithfulness that they have exhibited toward one another for these years will allow them not just to survive the coming years together, but actually to thrive.
Hear now the vows they exchange:
V. The Vows
(The Bride and Groom take hands)
Morgan: Melissa, today I join my life forever with yours. I promise to love you, support you, and honor you, no matter what challenges we shall face.
Melissa: Morgan, today I join my life forever with yours. I promise to love you, support you, and honor you, no matter what challenges we shall face.
VI. The Exchange of Rings
Morgan: With this ring, I thee wed.
Melissa: With this ring, I thee wed.
VII. The Wedding Prayer
Jeanne: (gives A Wedding Prayer)
VIII. The Pronouncement of Marriage
Jeanne: I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. You may seal your union with a kiss.
IX. The Benediction
Be not deceived
Though Love is gentle
Yet it is Fierce
Though Love is Soft
Yet it is strong
For its force reaches past time
Even unto eternity
And that which
Is Done in Love
Does not Die
But continues Forever.
(Joan Walsh Anglund)
Amen. Go in Peace and Love.
previous / archive / next