Readings

photo by Jennifer Kiewit

Here are a few readings which have been used by some Marrying Types I’ve Known. You’re welcome to use them for your own ceremony, or hopefully they’ll spark some ideas for your own readings.

To Be One With Each Other – George Eliot

What greater thing is there for two human souls

than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen

each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,

to share with each other in all gladness,

to be one with each other in the

silent unspoken memories?

Blessing (This used to be called Blessing From The Apache, but the Apache didn’t actually write it.)

Now you will feel no rain,

for each of you will be shelter for the other.

Now you will feel no cold,

for each of you will be warmth for the other.

Now there is no more loneliness.

Now you are two persons,

but there is only one life before you.

May your days together be good and long

upon the earth.

Richard Bach

A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.

Anon. Blessing

May your home be filled with laughter

and the warm embrace of a summer day.

With each other, may you find peacefulness and beauty,

challenge and satisfaction,

humor and insight,

healing and renewal,

love and wisdom.

May you always feel that when you have each other,

what you have is enough.

The Master Speed – Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by

But you have speed far greater. You can climb

Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,

And back through history up the stream of time.

And you were given this swiftness, not for haste

Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,

But in the rush of everything to waste,

That you may have the power of standing still-

Off any still or moving thing you say.

Two such as you with such a master speed

Cannot be parted nor be swept away

From one another once you are agreed

That life is only life forevermore

Together wing to wing and oar to oar

From A Gift From The Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

From The Irrational Season – Madeleine L’Engle

But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take…It is indeed a fearful gamble…Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.

The Two Of Us – The Mr T. Experience

Now there are two of us, instead of only one,

two times as many things get left half undone.

We’re twice as half-asleep when the new day has begun

and maybe twice as on the run,

’cause some of them will still be making fun of us.

They’ll say the two of you will never be one of us.

But even if that’s true,

they’ll have twice as much to do

when there are two of us,

and one of them is you.

They’ll find the two of us much harder to restrain,

outsmarted by our impressive double brain

If one of us runs dry, still another will remain,

and it’s twice as hard to pull the chain

of two of us, against a ton of them:

but two of us outnumber every single one of them.

Two lives are semi-rough

with half the rent and twice the stuff.

There are two of us, and that should be enough.

Look at everybody.

Everybody’s always

falling apart or breaking up.

But the two of us never will be one of those,

and I should know– I have had a run of those

Our love’s not guaranteed,

but it’s growing like a weed.

There are two of us,

I think that’s all we need.

Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses – Alberto Rios

Mr. Teodoro Luna in his later years had taken to kissing

His wife

Not so much with his lips as with his brows.

This is not to say he put his forehead

Against her mouth–

Rather, he would lift his eyebrows, once, quickly:

Not so vigorously he might be confused with the villain

Famous in the theaters, but not so little as to be thought

A slight movement, one of accident. This way

He kissed her

Often and quietly, across tables and through doorways,

Sometimes in photographs, and so through the years themselves.

This was his passion, that only she might see. The chance

He might feel some movement on her lips

Toward laughter.

Love Me – Walter Rinder

Love me because I try to touch life within the framework of uncertainty.

Love in me the shadows of my indecision as I strive to gain knowledge.

Love in me the silence of my hurts and the noise of my confusions.

Love me for the feeling of my heart not the fears of my mind.

Love me in my search for the truth though I may stumble upon fallacy.

Love me as I pursue my dreams sometimes hampered by illusions.

Love me as I grow to know myself even during times of stagnation.

Love me because I seek harmony not discord.

Love me for the wish to share affection.

Love me because we are different, as we are the same.

Love me that our time together will be spent in growing, kindling the world with understanding.

Love me not with expectations but with hope.

I will love you the same.

Scaffolding – Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be

Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall

Confident that we have built our wall.

Love at First Sight – Wislawa Szymborska: [vʲisˈwava ʂɨmˈbɔrska]

Both are convinced

that a sudden surge of emotion bound them together.

Beautiful is such a certainty,

but uncertainty is more beautiful.

Because they didn’t know each other earlier, they suppose that

nothing was happening between them.

What of the streets, stairways and corridors

where they could have passed each other long ago?

I’d like to ask them

whether they remember– perhaps in a revolving door

ever being face to face?

an “excuse me” in a crowd

or a voice “wrong number” in the receiver.

But I know their answer:

no, they don’t remember.

They’d be greatly astonished

to learn that for a long time

chance had been playing with them.

Not yet wholly ready

to transform into fate for them

it approached them, then backed off,

stood in their way

and, suppressing a giggle,

jumped to the side.

There were signs, signals:

but what of it if they were illegible.

Perhaps three years ago,

or last Tuesday

did a certain leaflet fly

from shoulder to shoulder?

There was something lost and picked up.

Who knows but what it was a ball

in the bushes of childhood.

There were doorknobs and bells

on which earlier

touch piled on touch.

Bags beside each other in the luggage room.

Perhaps they had the same dream on a certain night,

suddenly erased after waking.

Every beginning

is but a continuation,

and the book of events

is never more than half open.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their work. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. If two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not easily broken.

The Way (anon)

The way is long — let us go together

The way is difficult — let us help each other

The way is joyful — let us share it

The way is ours alone — let us go in love

The way grows before us — let us begin

Married Love – Kuan Tao-Sheng

You and I

Have so much love

That it

Burns like a fire

In which we bake a lump of clay

Molded into a figure of you

And a figure of me.

Then we take both of them

And break them into pieces

And mix the pieces with water

And mold again a figure of you

And a figure of me.

I am in your clay.

You are in my clay.

Marriage and Love Dennisa Davidson

Marriage gives life to love and love gives life to marriage.

In marriage, love means:

To know in your heart you were meant only for each-other. That Heaven grew you apart and brought you together after the time you were meant to be molded to fit each-other.

To discover what it is to be best friends forever. To discover what it is to love someone more than yourself.

To discover you are actually only a half and how much you need the other to be complete.

To discover the bonds that form when times get tough. To discover how much more joy is multiplied when there is someone you love to share it with.

Each day is a day of discovery, a day to build your love, a day to make your bond stronger.

Marriage is:

To together choose one way, not one’s own way.

To respect and honor with love the other over oneself or anyone else.

To compromise with each-other but never compromising each-other.

To know you are loved, wanted and needed whether you are fat or thin, well or ill, chirpy or grumpy.

To live life’s summer, winter, autumn and spring always being there for one another.

To blend as one that over the years you feel as one and speak as one.

To honor Marriage is to honor its Maker. To commit in marriage is to commit to its Maker.

Wedding Prayer – Robert Louis Stevenson

Lord, behold our family here assembled.

We thank you for this place in which we dwell,

for the love that unites us,

for the peace accorded us this day,

for the hope with which we expect the morrow,

for the health, the work, the food,

and the bright skies that make our lives delightful;

for our friends in all parts of the earth.

Amen

Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman

Camerado, I give you my hand!

I give you my love more precious than money,

I give you myself before preaching and law;

Will you give me yourself?

Will you come travel with me?

Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

Sonnet LXIX – Pablo Neruda

Maybe nothingness is to be without your presence,

without you moving, slicing the noon

like a blue flower, without you walking

later through the fog and the cobbles,

without the light you carry in your hand,

golden, which maybe others will not see,

which maybe no one knew was growing

like the red beginnings of a rose.

In short, without your presence: without your coming

suddenly, incitingly, to know my life,

gust of a rosebush, wheat of wind:

since then I am because you are,

since then you are, I am, we are,

and through love I will be, you will be, we’ll be.

Sonnet 162 – Petrarch 

O fortunate fields through which Madonna goes,

And you, O happy, happy flowers and sweet,

O upland who her gentle accent knows

And bears the dainty imprint of her feet,

O saplings lithe and early, verdant sprays,

O love-lorn violets pale, O forest dim

Which beauty’s sun hath piercèd with his rays

And drawn in proud florescence unto him;

O limpid stream that laves her lovely face,

Her luminous eyes, and doth their radiance share,

O primrose path, I envy you the grace

Of tender, loyal servitude you bear!

In you no single pebble now remains

That is not kindled with my passionate pains.

Blessing For A Marriage – James Dillet Freeman

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding.

May you always need one another – not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.

May you need one another, but not out of weakness.

May you want one another, but not out of lack.

May you entice one another, but not compel one another.

May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.

May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.

May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults.

If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.

May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.

May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.

May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

To Love is Not to Possess – James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,

To own or imprison,

Nor to lose one’s self in another.

Love is to join and separate,

To walk alone and together,

To find a laughing freedom

That lonely isolation does not permit.

It is finally to be able

To be who we really are

No longer clinging in childish dependency

Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,

It is to be perfectly one’s self

And perfectly joined in permanent commitment

To another–and to one’s inner self.

Love only endures when it moves like waves,

Receding and returning gently or passionately,

Or moving lovingly like the tide

In the moon’s own predictable harmony,

Because finally, despite a child’s scars

Or an adult’s deepest wounds,

They are openly free to be

Who they really are–and

always secretly were,

In the very core of their being

Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

Love – Roy Croft

I love you

Not only for what you are,

But for what I am

When I am with you.

I love you,

Not only for what

You have made of yourself,

But for what

You are making of me.

I love you

For the part of me

That you bring out;

I love you

For putting your hand

Into my heaped-up heart

And passing over

All the foolish, weak things

That you can’t help

Dimly seeing there,

And for drawing out

Into the light

All the beautiful belongings

That no one else had looked

Quite far enough to find

I love you because you

Are helping me to make

Of the lumber of my life

Not a tavern

But a temple.

Out of the works

Of my every day

Not a reproach

But a song.

I love you

Because you have done

More than any creed

Could have done

To make me good.

And more than any fate

Could have done

To make me happy.

You have done it

Without a touch,

Without a word,

Without a sign.

You have done it

By being yourself.

Four Quartets, Little Gidding – T.S. Eliot
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always–
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.