Todd and Steve, both practitioners of Zen, chose to have a Zen Buddhist wedding ceremony, which would be held in the yard of a longtime friend.
Early in our conversations, we knew an important aspect of the ceremony was for the wedding guests to feel comfortable with the expressions of Zen that would support it. Many would be unfamiliar with the teachings that point to awakening… that point to presence. What better gathering than a wedding, to invite all in attendance to be present? In essence, ceremony is built upon presence, but unfamiliar terms and traditions can also distract rather than invite. We planned for a few introductory sentences to follow the welcome.
In the meantime, Steve wrote a section of the ceremony that expressed the commitment to their relationship through compassion, acceptance, generosity, and wisdom, which are cornerstones of Buddhism. These relationship vows were to be spoken prior to the declaration of intent (marriage vows).
All the Bells…
Wedding Day… Summer Solstice was hot and humid. Steam rose from the greenery in the yard. The previous days’ storms soaked the air, but the rains had ceased just in time for this most perfect day. This All the Bells ceremony felt intimate and connected. Many friends and family members took turns to speak of their love and support for these two men, who were finally able to legally marry after more than two decades of commitment. Joy surrounded and infused all who were there to witness the union of Todd and Steve.
And to close the ceremony with a bit of fun, Todd and Steve had asked that I invite the guests to join them as they danced down the aisle to Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy!” I still smile thinking of it.
Photo credit: Tony Nelson