May through September is usually the time for weddings. The weather is fine outside, people are free to travel and venues everywhere prepare themselves for day after day of couples proclaiming their love and devotion to one another. As participants, it is an opportunity for us to put on our special wedding clothing, fancy jewelry, make up and prepare for some intense dancing and lots of noise.
I find weddings to be important events, not just because they are an opportunity to get out and be with friends and celebrate young love, but because they are important community lessons in optimism and in the great potential that exits in a life together. As the couple stands under the chuppah they have already small suitcases of experiences together which form the basis of their relationship. They know that they love one another and they enjoy each other's company. They probably have similar interests and have decided that they are looking for the same things in their lives. They are happy and in love and their future stands waiting before them.
Love is the theme of most weddings. I am a fan of weddings; of the dancing, the food and the joy that surrounds the events. Most of all though, I love the wedding speeches which are spoken under the wedding canopy. I listen carefully to these. They not only provide me with information about the couple, but they provide important marriage advice to couples married ten or twenty or thirty or forty or fifty years. In between weddings it can be easy to slip into patterns that are developed over the course of a marriage. Every couple has their own patterns; perhaps a lack of patience or understanding or not listening to one another or talking past one another. Sitting next to my husband at a wedding and hearing the words of a rabbi officiating is the best therapy to steer us back to the beginnings of a marriage and its roots. I will often hold my husband's hand during a wedding and squeeze it to reaffirm our own promises to each other made so many years ago.
Now for the hard part. It is hard to put into words forty two years of marriage. So, here is my own little speech under the chuppah some forty two years after our wedding.
Forty two years
Nights and days
Days and nights
Piles of laundry on the floor
Evening walks down quiet streets
Series watched on television sets
Sport teams followed
Mountains climbed, phone conversations
Forty two years
How to measure?
A cup? A ruler? A yardstick?
Calculating minutes, experiences, smiles, tears?
Countless meals, hot cups of tea
Thunderstorms and snow
Pants too big, shirts too small
Padded shoulders, sleeveless shirts
Two door cars to mini-vans and back again
Seconds, minutes, hours
Days, weeks, months
years and decades pass
K'heref Ayin, like the blink of an eye
Looking backwards more than forward
Trying to remember details of children
When did this one walk?
When did he first smile?
Her first tooth?
Which position did he play in Little League?
Which piece did she play in the recital?
From nap to nap
From Shabbat to Shabbat
From meal to meal
Mile to mile
From Bar Mitzvahs to graduations
From wedding to wedding
From toast to toast
Dance to dance
From phones on the wall to phones in pockets
We have faced
Bad jobs, good jobs
Moves from one community
to the next
Dogs, and ducks and birds and rabbits
Houses made into homes
Always together with love
We have seen loved ones
Forever depart this world
Some too soon, leaving a hole in our lives
We have experienced the mighty river which is family
Being there for each other
We have made mistakes, many in fact
Asked for forgiveness and more
We have prayed, traveled the world, built and destroyed
Sometimes angry, sometimes joyous
But always together
Our greatest gifts
Our children, our grandchildren
Grace our lives, bring color and light and nuance and joy
and dance and worry and pride and exaltation and calm and
always something to look forward to.....
To hope for, to have hope in.
After forty two years we can both look back and look ahead
Because of you.
You are the answer to the question
How to measure love
You are what that we could only dream of so many years ago
When we stood under the canopy
One rainy rainy night so long ago.
You are the dreams that we never even knew we could dream
The crown of our years, the song in our hearts
The endless measure of our love