My dear friend, Nichole, and her love, Jay, asked me to write something to be read at their wedding last weekend. I was very intimidated by the idea at first.  I thought to myself, why would they want a single, divorced person to write something about love and marriage? I’m not exactly an authority on the subject.

It was daunting.

I thought about marriage, and what might be different about it the second time around…particularly as a parent. Nichole brings two boys of her own into the relationship, Jay brings a son as well, and together they added a fourth boy to their brood.  This marriage is about combining their families, just as much as it is about becoming husband and wife.

With that in mind, here’s what I wrote (shared with permission from the bride and groom)…

Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hahn wrote, “If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform themselves.” 

There is something very beautiful about a couple coming together in marriage after they’ve done a fair amount of living. When we are younger and in love we may have an unintentionally narrow and somewhat selfish view of the world, of love and of relationships. As we experience life and love, and parenthood in particular, our hearts and compassion for others expand. We truly understand what it means to love unconditionally, and to give selflessly to others. We understand more deeply what it means for “I” to become “We”.

Nichole and Jay have come together with their children, Pierce, Wyatt, Christian, and now Beckett to celebrate the joining of their lives with one another. 

Like the river, their love is not small and confined, but rather it expands outward – surrounding and nourishing them all.

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It is hard for me to imagine myself ever getting married again, but if there is one thing I have learned in my life it is that you just never know what might happen. Marriage or not, I hope for a love that is like a river.

Congratulations Nichole and Jay!

{Photo by Meri Keller}

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