Our ceremony began with the same introduction we wrote for our first wedding and have used to renew our vows at ten years. This time we swapped which of us said which now-traditional parts; to each hear the other say to us what we have said in the past made the familiar words feel surprisingly new.
...thank you for coming here today to witness as we again become one.
Rumi asks, “who finds us here, circling bewildered, like atoms?” He points to our existence as individuals, as humans and birds and stars, and recognizes that together, we are god. That glory is our inner reality, the outer being a kind of language that explains that.
“Love is the religion, the universe is the book.”
What we have found in each other is a passion for experiencing both the inner glory and the outer language of being alive. By coming together here before you, our familiar divinity, we are giving ourselves to one another and to this passion for the rest of our lives.
When James and I found each other, we sought words to describe what it felt like. I found Rumi, and one night read to James:
“As Rumi was riding through the marketplace, surrounded by a knot of disciples, a stranger with piercing eyes stepped from a doorway and seized his bridle. The stranger challenged him with a question.
“We cannot be entirely certain what the question was, but as Rumi was about to reply, he realized he had come face to face with the Mystery. A doorway to eternity flickered open…
“And in one pure outrageous act of faith, Rumi dove through. In an instant of mystical annihilation, fire met fire, ocean ocean, and Rumi fell into pure being.
“To the outside world, it is only recorded that, at Shams' question, Rumi tumbled to the ground, unconscious.
“Later he would say, 'what I first thought of as god, I met today as a human being.'
The Radiance Sutras are a song of the love between the goddess Shakti and the god Shiva and of the search of all beings for union:
Both in unison:
Do me a favor, my love.
Let me rest in your embrace.
Refresh me with the elixir of your wisdom.
Ravish me with your truth.
Beloved, your questions
Touch the heart of wonder,
The path of intimacy with all life —
Weaving together body and soul,
Sex and spirit, individuality and universality.
Let me tell you of the luminous path.
I am beyond measure.
I am beyond space and time.
I am beyond ancient and beyond the future.
There are no directions to me.
I am always here.
I am the embrace
of your most intimate experience.
Though I am beyond the intellect
I am not beyond your daring.
I am the nourishing state of fullness
That is the essence of soul.
Both in unison:
You belong to me, and I am yours.
I long to merge with you,
Be filled with your nourishing essence.
Lead me into joyous union
With the life of the universe,
That I may know it fully,
Realize it deeply,
and bathe in luminous truth.
At this point, we handed the ceremony book to Libby, I untied the magnificent cape and let it fall to the ground, and James and I took hands, turned away from our loved ones to face the sea, and began to slowly, carefully, pick our way across the rocks. As we did so, there was apparently much suspense among our guests, who were unaware of our intentions. If you were there, we'd be grateful and delighted to hear your experience of this in the comments!
And James raised his arm to signal:
If you, the beloved family and friends of James and Kristie Dahlia, affirm that you have witnessed and sanctify this commitment, please answer with a resounding yes.
Which they did!
I believe that the quotations from our 1999 ceremony are from Michael Green's stellar book, The Illuminated Rumi, though Coleman Barks' fine translations of his work are what we have held most dear. The Radiance Sutras are a modern translation of the ancient Vijnana Bhairava Tantra by Lorin Roche; this text has been dear to my heart and a keystone in our conversations and my practice and teaching for many years.