I tried to provide a link to the “sermon” Marc wrote for Eric & Ujin’s wedding with my original NYC post. And while it seemed to work on Mozilla, I noticed that while using Internet Explorer, the link actually sent my computer into some crazy sort of death spiral, which resulted in my having to turn my computer off at the power button…twice. I removed the link promptly, but I do extend apologies to anyone whose machines also went into meltdown mode when you clicked the link! You know it’s pretty bad when CTR+ALT+DEL won’t even cut it. So here they are, Marc’s sweet words to Eric & Ujin — hopefully you’ll find them as touching as I did.
A friend of mine is known for often proclaiming a subtle truth: “Words are powerful.”
This friend would be prone to prescribe to this little saying, she is of course a poet of some international fame named Mari Evans. Mari, in her 8th decade of life, is deeply inspired by the way words move people. As a civil rights activist in the 60’s and a prolific contributor to the Black Arts Movement in this country, Mari has experienced, first hand, the turbulence, the magnitude, and the majesty of the role words play in our day to day life.
So, what does this mean for us today? This notion of words, their power, and the unifying love shared between the two of you and all of your friends and family? The simple fact is that the word “marriage,” which represents our celebration today, has moved through our existence as people and through humanity with sheer force and great power, giving rise to tremendous examination and criticism. The word “marriage” is paramount in terms of its powers; it conveys the summit of linguistic understandings. Perhaps the word “marriage” carries so much power because of its often controversial and disputable meanings. For us, today, I present a few ways in which we have come to understand the concept of marriage.
First, there is the daunting and catchy understanding of marriage conveyed through the analogy of the “Ball & Chain.” This popular and constructed likeness to the term does little to convey its essence. When referring to marriage as “the ol’ Ball & Chain,” people clearly express their lack of capacity to grasp other powerful words such as care, love, compassion, and forgiveness. As a friend to you both, I will forewarn that if you ever refer to “marriage” with this analogy, I will quickly direct you to old episodes of Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. The basic and elementary maxims about life through relationships conveyed in these “made for kids” T.V. programs substantially breaks the restrictions set forth in this limited definition of the term at bay.
Second, there is the concept of marriage as “Partnership.” This understanding of the word matches marriage with a sort of benevolent relationship between two entities: Bonnie & Clyde; Ben & Jerry; Siskel & Ebert; Hot Dogs & Ball Games. While a bit more affirming than the “Ball & Chain” reference, the notion of marriage as “partnership” can lean towards the absurd. I’m not saying that marriage does not contain elements of “partnership.” Rather it fails, again, to present a comprehensive description of the word and its power.
Lastly, there is the notion of marriage as a “union.” Driven by underpinnings of romance and self denial, union, as the essence of marriage, seems to get real close to the true understanding of the term. Getting warm, getting warmer, you’re real close, right? But, like in the game of “find the object,” using “union” to find the meaning of marriage will always get you “warm” but never “hot” – never there.
I present to you my own tried and tested definition – analogy if you will – of marriage. Ready? Marriage is an Eternal Slumber Party! I know, you’ve probably heard me say it before and you’ll hear me say it again – Marriage is an Eternal Slumber Party. And that, my friends, is real power! It might sound funny, but consider it for a moment. Marriage is a party, right? If has all the elements – fun, excitement, wonder, celebration, and the enjoyment of each other and each other’s preciousness. And, what’s a party without the exchange of gifts. Here’s where it really gets good; true marriage is a constant exchange of one another’s gifts and the mutual delight created through this exchange. It is a real party! Isn’t it? And the slumber part – well, I won’t go into that too much today…I mean your parents are here.
Seriously, though, marriage is one long sleep over. And that’s what I have to share with you…as a married man; the times when marriage is true and active in my life are the times when my marriage is a slumber party; which is always and will always be also for you both together.
Eric, you have a beautiful bride…seriously, man, a little out of your league. As your friend, I want you to know how proud I am of your life; I think I speak for us all in saying that you have always pushed your potential, followed your dreams – and achieved them! You have inspired us; you have taught us all many things; and most importantly, you have shown us all great love and care. Now your dreams include this beautiful young woman. And together you will continue to inspire, teach, and love everyone in your sphere. As husband and wife, you will harmoniously protect and uplift the absolute preciousness of our humanity. Eric, we all love you and share in your delight today.
Ujin, you have a tremendous man by your side today and forever. I have felt your dynamic spirit and colorful personality in the days leading up to this celebration. As your new friend, I want you to know that your very being is a tribute to the joy in our world. Your fantastic laugh, endearing smile, and altogether radiant zest for life makes us all better understand the tremendous value of living. Your complement to Eric’s life is so treasured, so powerful, and so encouraging. Ujin, we all love you and share in your delight today.
The two of you together are a testament to happiness…in fact, you generate happiness together in all of your surroundings. Your slumber party in life will produce great joy, abundant love, and true life. It is with great honor and handsome joy that I begin your vows of marriage, the most powerful word, today: right now.
Do you (Eric/Ujin) knowing (Ujin’s/Eric’s) love for you and returning it, recognize (her/his) strengths and learning from them, recognizing your own strengths and always sharing them with (her/him), take (Ujin/Eric) to be your lawfully wedded (wife/husband)?
Exchange of Rings:
Place this ring on her/his finger, repeating after me. “With this ring, I thee wed.”
And now, Eric & Ujin, seeking the fulfillment of love and marriage, acknowledging in front of friends and family their strong love for each other. I now pronounce you husband and wife. Eric, please kiss your bride!