July 1, 2013
Our Very Best Selves
Some Thoughts on Mom & Dad’s 50th Anniversary.
One of the Biblical narratives that’s always been most significant for Dad is the Genesis story and its account of the creation of the universe. The Biblical “Big Bang” is an awesomely powerful story. But no sooner is the world created, and we’re treated to a detailed accounting of what really characterizes our day-to-day existence; that is, human relationships in the most complex and intimate sense.
Just a bit further on in Genesis is the story of how a man is expected to leave the home of his parents and “cleave to a wife,” as Adam joined with Eve. Today I would ask that we pause for a moment, and open ourselves just a bit to hearing that voice that speaks to the highest parts within us; that we consider the Biblical metaphor of cleaving, perhaps in an entirely traditional framework, but perhaps in less traditional contexts, or maybe in ways that weren’t imagined at the time it was first said.
The metaphor teaches us about the specialness, the holiness, and the need for coupling. What’s the ‘take home’ message here? That real cleaving means sticking with one another and staying together, truly joining, giving each other the love and support that’s needed to really build a life with one another.
We’re witnesses to this today, as we gather in celebration of Mom and Dad’s wonderful marriage. What are we learning? That success in marriage — in any committed relationship — means growing together despite most often being very different people.
It’s not only a pleasure for me, but a privilege to be in the presence of so many couples who’ve been together for so long, over the decades, through good times and bad, or should I say, through easier times and less easy times. It gives me a very warm feeling that among those present today are several couples whose weddings I even attended so long ago.
While we’re celebrating one really big anniversary, I think it’s fair to say we’re also celebrating marriage and being a great extended family and circle of friends.
When I told various people that I was traveling to attend my parents’ 50th anniversary celebration, the result was, of course, many warm congratulations, but also some puzzled looks of incredulity. While recognizing what an achievement 50 years of marriage represents, I think people also experience, on some level, a sense that such a celebration so much flies in the face of what’s common in our throw-away culture and modern society of instant gratification, of disposability, of I want it all and I want it now. Some folks just can’t believe it. Well, let’s believe it!
Rabbi Nachman taught that each of us has an indestructible part that nothing can erase or destroy. This is the part of ourselves that we rely upon in moments of distress and despair. We might not always know what to call it, but it’s what gives us a doorway out of our own darkest moments, and enables and inspires us to reach out in support of others.
I think that so much of marriage and coupling is being able to see that special element in one another, as well as in ourselves, and to remember it when it’s seemingly dormant or otherwise not so easily apparent.
Thank you, Mom and Dad. Thank you for sticking together, for loving one another, for loving us all. Thank you for making us a great family. We love you.
June 30th, 2013