Ryan, on behalf of everyone gathered here, thank you for proposing to Julia. Julia, we thank you for saying yes. Some here have known and loved Ryan for a very long time, and others, Julia. All of us gathered here have come to love you both as a couple, and we are grateful that you invited us to celebrate your lifelong commitment of love.
You did not have to do this. You could have lived together indefinitely until some things fall apart. But by taking these vows today before family and friends and the Creative Source of the very love and life that marriage signifies, you commit to be there for each other not only through the highest highs but the lowest lows. And indeed, the highs get higher and the lows lower in marriage and family life.
But remember, especially during the lows, this gathering of family and friends, brought together by the very Spirit that forms all beautiful things like those mountains, that sky, and the two of you. When you fell in love and as you feel that love today, you have a palpable sense of the God who is love working creatively to form you in all your beauty as individuals and as a couple. Whatever your faith today and tomorrow, God loves you and wants your joy to grow, even from the low places. Indeed, Christians among us believe God in Christ descended to the very lowest human state and rose to eternal life, meeting us with love in the lowest and highest places. Whether in joy or suffering, God always loves you, holds you, and guides you whether you realize it at the time or not.
Thus, in your commitment of love, you have freedom to love without fear. Since you are both artists, you know how important freedom is. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, when asked what advice he would give to young people, answered:
Let them remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Let them be sure that every deed counts, that every word has power, and that we all can do our share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and all frustrations and all disappointments. And above all, [let them] remember….to build a life as if it were a work of art.
Your creative work in visual art, music, and dance, express in concentrated forms the creativity of your whole lives, like Julia teaching kids in Montessori and the Science Museum and Ryan playing his guitar and making podcasts in winter storms. Keep in touch with your own creativity and listen to each others’ authentic voices. You are now partners in creative work, co-creators with the Creator, whether that means children or new adventures or new expressions of beauty.
You know as artists that the creative process is messy, just as life is messy, just as love is messy. Be patient with one another. If you haven’t already noticed, the grace to forgive is a must. Forgiveness only brings more freedom from resentments that can constrict your love. Keep listening to each other. Out of the messiness emerges something beautiful.
Psalm 19 begins, “The Heavens declare the glory of the Creator; The firmament proclaims the handiwork of Love.” When you read or hear “glory” in scripture, think “beauty,” a beauty that reveals love at its source. Here among the breathtaking mountains of Colorado, you are the greatest beauty in sight today. Your creative, loving paths converged in this moment, and we thank you for lifting our eyes to the glory of the Creator, for leading us in worship.
Yet, after the ceremony is over, after everyone heads home, when you face days at work and school, as you pay bills and grocery shop and thank God when Friday comes, how do you keep the love alive? How do you keep walking in the beauty of this wedding day? Julia’s mother, Wanda, and I have a simple, practical word of advice: Practice gratitude for each other every day. How easy it is to grow so accustomed to the gifts you give to one another that you take them for granted. Take a moment each day to think of at least one way through which your beloved blesses you, and say a word of thanks.
Look around. Remember what you see now. The smiling and teary faces. The mountains. The heavens that declare the glory of God. That love is always with you even when you do not feel it. Be patient. Keep your promise. In God’s time, love always prevails.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).
Two photos of the bride and groom by Brianna Hincy with permission.
Rainbow photo by my iPhone and me.