One of the many reasons I love being a writer is that I always have the ability to give my loved ones a meaningful gift: the gift of my creativity. When my friends Chris and Meredith were getting married a few years ago, for example, I wrote a story as part of their wedding present in which Meredith is a mermaid living in the James River, and Chris is a gentle giant. They fall in love when Meredith saves Chris from drowning.
This past weekend, I got married myself, and I decided I wanted to give my new husband a little wedding gift. But what would he want? What would be super special? Naturally, I decided to write him a story. In this one, I’m a hibernating bear, and Paul is a man who wanders into my cave one cold winter, and his love turns me human.
I wrote something else for the wedding, and I’ve been debating whether or not to share it with the world. You see, during our ceremony, three of our friends gave readings. Afterwards, several people came up to me and said, “I loved that last reading so much; it was perfect for you guys… Where did you find it?”
“Well… Um… Where do you think it came from?” I asked, stalling. On the program it was listed as “a myth, by anonymous.” Paul and I had thought it would be tacky if people knew that, in fact, I had written it.
But when I think about it, why is that so wrong? We looked through dozens of wedding readings and none of them said exactly the right thing. So I wrote exactly what Paul and I feel about our relationship. Isn’t that a good thing?
And when I think about it even more, isn’t this a gift I could potentially give to others? Maybe some other couple is out there, looking through all the ceremony readings on the Internet, hoping to find something new, something a little different. Maybe they would like to use what I wrote as part of their ceremony.
At first I thought it might be tacky to post the reading on my blog. Would it make our ceremony less special if I put the reading on the Internet to be seen and potentially used by others? But on the other hand, love is meant to be shared. I wrote something beautiful about a lifelong partnership between two people. Paul and I (and some of the guests at our wedding) enjoyed it, and maybe others will, too. There’s no sense in keeping it a secret any longer.
And so, without further ado, here is our final wedding ceremony reading:
A man and woman lived in a world that was darkened by danger and lit by joy. When they came together, their danger was less and their joy was more, and for a time they were satisfied.
But they felt a space between them, and they thought this space would close if they could share bodies. And so they felt the blood pumping through each other’s veins and the breath flowing through each other’s lungs, and when one ate the other felt nourished, and when one slept the other felt rested. They experienced each other’s pain and pleasure, and for a time, they were satisfied.
But still, they felt a space between them, and they thought this space would close if they could share minds. And so they studied together and read together, learning how to live in a world that is darkened by danger and lit by joy. They listened to each other and tried to speak thoughts for which there are no words. And for a time, they were satisfied.
But still, they felt a space between them, and they thought this space would close if they could share souls. Alas, the man had stored his soul in a box within a box in a secret place he could no longer find. And the woman had wrapped her soul so well in tissue and twine that she could not manage to untie the knots.
And so, with no way to share souls, they went about life as best they could. They shared meals instead, as well as chores and travel and germs. They shared tears and laughter and danger and joy. They turned towards each other when times were hard. They became like two horses yoked to the same cart, and together they struggled across the earth towards the same destination, somewhere in the hazy distance.
And over time, a strange thing happened. The box opened and the man’s soul emerged. The knots loosened and the woman’s soul was freed. And one day, when they were very old, they looked at each other and realized their souls had merged long ago. It had happened slowly. They hadn’t noticed because his soul had felt like a part of hers, and hers had felt like a part of his. There was no longer a space between them, and for a moment the dangers of the world melted in the pure white light of their endless joy.