The Martha Stewart Weddings editors are sweet to work with! It was fun to chat with Real Weddings intern Elisha Hahm for her blog about ceremony readings that went live this week. She chose some of my favorite readings. Yes, the Anne Bradstreet poem was written nearly four hundred years ago, and it still sounds like love today.
It turns out that Mrs. Bradstreet was a great-great-ever-so-great aunt of mine.
How do you pick readings for your wedding ceremony? I often ask the couple to give me three adjectives to describe the ceremony they envision. So if a couple agrees on, “theatrical, romantic, and upbeat” or “intimate, simple, and brief,” these provide two very different tones. I listen for the tone that they want, which guides me to the types of readings I might present to them.
Interestingly, children's literature is gaining popularity in weddings. More people are choosing excerpts of the book by Dr. Seuss: Oh, The Places You’ll Go! I've also heard part of The Little Prince, where the fox explains why he loves his rose. And the part about becoming Real from The Velveteen Rabbit. These readings can touch an audience deeply because we might remember reading them as children.
Here's an interesting alternative to the standard reading: A handful of guests can rise and read brief passages, like definitions of marriage, or blessings for the couple. Tell your family members and friends ahead of time to write a line or two and bring it with them. In a wedding between a Jewish groom and his Chinese bride, each of their parents read meaningful proverbs about marriage in either Yiddish or Mandarin.
Yes it’s a dry spring in California. Nonetheless plant and vegetable and tree roots inch along, lengthening as they reach for water and warmth. That word ‘lengthen’ shares a root with the Festival of ‘Lent,’ also occurring now.
The Catholic season of Lent is about removing distractions, sending our own attention and energy inward and downward, a forty-or-so day meditation before we flower into action. Indeed, a radical action is one expressed from our root.
I attended a gathering of about four hundred souls last weekend, a mix of farmers and urbanites, natives and immigrants, scientists, writers, artists, meditators, gardeners, and activists — we filled up a whole school in the town of Point Reyes Station. At the conference, called Mapping a New Geography of Hope, we listened to really thoughtful people getting at the root of things. The planet is heating up. People are acting badly. Others do healing and reparation of wrongs done to our forests, cultures, and oceans, and still others create necessary visions and plans for a good life on a healthy planet with sustainable, balanced systems.
Which gave me the questions to ponder:
· What do I love too much to lose?
· What will I do to protect what I love?
· What does the Earth ask of us? With my own talents, what are my responsibilities?
· What can be gathered from our ancestors, and from local ancestors (for me Silicon Valley and the Bay Area), that will help us heal our land and water?
· How am I letting my attention and body be colonized by corporate interests?
· Why are rhinos, bears, monkeys and sharks being slaughtered to extinction for increased sexual potency?
· How can I, in a nation that uses 30 times the resources of other nations, calm my own consumer desires?
· How can I shape the next chapter of the Silicon Valley / Bay Area story?
Here are some thoughts about weddings, writing, and the world. Enjoy.