What is Love
Sooner or later, we begin to understand that love is more than verses on valentines and romance in the movies. We begin to know that love is here and now, real and true, the most important thing in our lives. For love is the creator of our favorite memories and the foundation of our fondest dreams. Love is a promise that is always kept, a fortune that can never be spent, a seed that can flourish in even the most unlikely of places. And this radiance that never fades, this mysterious and magical joy, is the greatest treasure of all – one known only by those who love.
Not Anyone who Says
By Mary Oliver
Not anyone who says, “I’m going to be careful and smart in matters of love,”
who says, “I’m going to choose slowly,”
but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all
but were, as it were, chosen
by something invisible and powerful and uncontrollable
and beautiful and possibly even
only those know what I’m talking about
in this talking about love.
Paraphrased From The Art of Happiness
By the Dali Lama
I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, we all are seeking something better in life. Building a strong relationship is based on the qualities of affection, compassion, and mutual respect as human beings. Basing a relationship on these qualities enables us to achieve a deep and meaningful bond. It opens up unlimited possibilities and opportunities for connection. When each Remembers – So long as space remains, So long as sentient beings remain, I will remain In order to help, in order to serve, In order to make my own contribution. Marriages grow stronger with every passing day.
by Robert Fulghum
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, ” You know all those things we’vepromised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.
A Blessing for the Journey (Buddhist)
by Sensei Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Let us vow to bear witness to the wholeness of life,
realizing the completeness of each and every thing.
Embracing our differences,
I shall know myself as you,
and you as myself.
May we serve each other
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to open ourselves to the abundance of life.
Freely giving and receiving, I shall care for you,
for the trees and stars,
as treasures of my very own.
May we be grateful
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to forgive all hurt,
caused by ourselves and others,
and to never condone hurtful ways.
Being responsible for my actions,
I shall free myself and you.
Will you free me, too?
May we be kind
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to remember that all that appears will disappear.
In the midst of uncertainty,
I shall sow love.
Here! Now! I call to you:
Let us together live
The Great Peace that we are.
May we give no fear
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Adapted from Pitching My Tent
by Anita Diamant
Why marry? Because marriage publicly affirms the possibility of moving toward another person without reservation. With that momentum, we are propelled toward the center of the heart, toward the center of the universe, and however far that gets us is farther than we’d otherwise go alone.
Why marry? Because every wedding enacts a personal connection to the universal story of the human hope for wholeness. Because by stepping into the hyperbarically charged space on the altar (in front of the minister, under the canopy), the bride and groom join in a dance that goes all the way back to the beginning of memory.
Getting married is an attempt at turning air into matter, transforming the ineffable workings of the heart into things that are “real”: the invitation, the dress, the ring. The words that constitute a wedding are magical incantations of the highest order. In the presence of witnesses and voiced by a vested authority, two people are pronounced a single unit. Every wedding is an invocation of peace and wholeness and connection and joy. Good wishes flow from family and friends, through history and community, with wings and prayers and everything that might turn out to be holy in the universe.
So that’s why _______ and _______ are getting married — to receive that shower of blessings, hoping with all their hearts to make them last.
by Dana Scully
It seems to me that the best relationships, the ones that last, are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is… suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.
The Tally Stick
by Jarold Ramsey
Here from the start, from our first of days, look:
I have carved our lives in secret on this stick
of mountain mahogany the length of your arms
outstretched, the wood clear red, so hard and rare.
It is time to touch and handle what we know we share.
Near the butt, this intricate notch where the grains
converge and join: it is our wedding.
I can read it through with a thumb and tell you now
who danced, who made up the songs, who meant us joy.
These little arrowheads along the grain,
they are the births of our children. See,
they make a kind of design with these heavy crosses,
the deaths of our parents, the loss of friends.
Over it all, as it goes, of course, I
have chiseled Events, History–random
hashmarks cut against the swirling grain.
See, here is the Year the World Went Wrong,
we thought, and here the days the Great Men fell.
The lengthening runes of our lives run through it all.
See, our tally stick is whittled nearly end to end;
delicate as scrimshaw, it would not bear you up.
Regrets have polished it, hand over hand.
Yet, let us take it up, and as our fingers
like children leading on a trail cry back
our unforgotten wonders, sign after sign,
we will talk softly as of ordinary matters,
and in one another’s blameless eyes go blind.
by Roy Croft
I love you Not only for what you are,
But for what I amWhen 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 youBecause 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.
Perhaps that is what Being a friend means,
To Know Yourself
By Swami Satchidananda
A wedding is between two reflections of God. Two pairs of eyes see one vision. They are dedicated to serve one another and the humanity at large. Two minds come together to help each other realize their true nature. Going side by side with the right partner is a good way to reach God quickly. When a husband’s and the wife’s love for each other blends together and becomes love of God, marriage is a divine institution.
Pure love, at its essence, does not strive, does not want, does not evaluate — nor does it judge. Love is simply love. It is the embrace of another traveler on the path: A nod to someone else on the journey. It asks nothing, yet can take in everything. It is profoundly touched by the depth and bredth of each traveler’s experience, yet one need not alter course when experiencing someone else’s pleasure or pain. You can feel total love for someone and embrace them on their journey without needing to change them, or yourself, in any way.
Love is the path and the light and the journey itself. Love for yourself is an opening of your awareness to the experience of being on your journey. Love for another is the same. It’s a smile and a nod, like you would give to someone you meet on a hiking trail, but at the same time it’s a bursting of the containment of the biological drives and a knowledge of complete connection.
Love is the music and the dance of the universe. It is what fills us up and sweeps us off our feet — like joyful children picked up and twirled by the strong arms of our fathers and mothers.
It is the gift that is simply there. Unearned by our cleverness, by our hard work, or even by our earnest strivings to be more, to have more, to give more. It is the gift that we can give ourselves, and each other, for simply being.
Marriage Joins Two People In The Circle Of Its Love
By Edmund O’Neill
Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime.
Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.
Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.
Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life.
When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.
Excerpt from The Bridge Across Forever
By Richard Bach
A soul mate 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 whom 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 soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.
The Art of a Good Marriage
by Wilferd Arlan Peterson
The little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is never taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other,
not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice,
but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation
and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo
or the wife to have wings of an angel.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience,
understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal,
dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner,
it is being the right partner.
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Tao of Marriage
by Stephen Mitchell.
The deepest intimacy with the beloved becomes possible when we have experienced intimacy with the self. Intimacy with the self means awakening to our true nature. The old Zen stories say, about the moment of a Master’s enlightenment, “Suddenly he was intimate.”
“Go deeper than love,” D.H. Lawrence wrote, “for the soul has greater depths.” The willingness to go deeper than love is itself a kind of love, a desire to meet the beloved beyond desire, in the darkness where there is no self, no other. For this meeting, a man and a woman must be whole enough in themselves to step out of themselves, into the place of mutual transformation. They are able to surrender everything they know, everything they love, with the abandon that a Master has at the hour of death. Transformation is a death. It is also a birth, and can be as painful as any physical birth. Painful or ecstatic, it requires a fundamental trust. “Into your hand I commit my spirit.”
A man and a woman who enter this depth of intimacy find themselves standing in the garden where Adam and Eve stood. All things are possible for them. The ancient Chinese sage Tzu-ssu said, “For the mature person, the Tao begins in the relation between man and woman, and ends in the infinite vastness of the universe.” They have traced their love for each other back to the root of love, the radiant non-self, the bodhisattva’s serene compassion. Like the wedding ring, it has no beginning, no end.
True Love Defined
by Cori and Jason Kupisch
True love involves admiring one
Despite their many flaws
Cherishing their talents
Accepting their faux pas
They love each other’s boisterous laugh
And silly sense of humor
They love each other’s intellect,
And calm hippie-like demeanor
They each love the other’s conversation
Their patience, integrity and strength
They love how the other challenges them
To go to every length
Though neither one is perfect
They pick up each other’s slack
And make up for each perfection
That the other person may lack
Forgiving with great ease
Because they both know
There is so much to love
And much more time to grow
All that said and done
I am sure you would admit
That their love is truly complete and enduring
They are each other’s perfect fit.
* * *
The Promises of Marriage
by Bettie Meeks
Marriage is a promise of companionship,
Of having someone to share
All of life’s experiences.
Marriage does not promise that there will
Not be any rough times,
Just the assurance that there will
Always be someone
Who cares and will help you through
To better times.
Marriage does not promise eternal romance,
Just eternal love and commitment.
Marriage cannot prevent disappointments,
Disillusionment, or grief,
But it can offer hope, acceptance,
Marriage can’t protect you from making
Or shelter you from the world,
But it will help to reassure you
That there is some by your side
Who truly cares,
When the world hurts you
And makes you feel vulnerable,
Marriage offers the promise that there will
Be someone waiting to listen,
To console, to inspire.
Marriage is the joining of two people
Who share the promise
That only marriage can make …
To share the sunshine and the shadows,
And to experience a richer, more fulfilling life
Because of it.
To Be One With Each Other
by 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?
Love Is A Great Thing
by Thomas À Kempis
Love is a great thing, yea, a great and thorough good
By itself it makes that is heavy light;
and it bears evenly all that is uneven.
It carries a burden which is no burden;
it will not be kept back by anything low and mean;
it desires to be free from all wordly affections,
and not to be entangled by any outward prosperity,
or by any adversity subdued.
Love feels no burden,
thinks nothing of trouble,
attempts what is above its strength,
pleads no excuse of impossibility.
It is therefore able to undertake all things,
and it completes many things,
and warrants them to take effect,
where he who does not love would faint and lie down.
Though weary, it is not tired;
though pressed it is not straitened;
though alarmed, it is not confounded;
but as a living flame it forces itself upwards and securely passes through all.
Love is active and sincere, courageous, patient, faithful, prudent and manly.
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, “God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
* * *
© Oriah Mountain Dreamer, from the book The Dance, HarperONE, SanFrancisco, 2001
I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don’t jump up and shout, “Yes, this is what I want! Let’s do it!”
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.
Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiraling down into the ache within the ache,
and I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, every day.
Don’t tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without abandoning yourself when
you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.
Tell me a story of who you are,
and see who I am in the stories I live.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.
Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next. . .
I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall, to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?
And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the clear, healthy boundaries that
help us live side by side with each other, let us risk remembering that we never stop silently
those we once loved out loud.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make
my heart whole again and again.
Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us shout that soul’s desires have
too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money.
Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs
you want our children’s children to remember.
And I will show you how I struggle not to change the world,
but to love it.
Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.
And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.
Don’t say, “Yes!”
Just take my hand and dance with me.
* * *
I Am Love
Some say I can fly on the wind, yet I haven’t any wings. Some have found me floating on the open sea, yet I cannot swim. Some have felt my warmth on cold nights, yet I have no flame.
And though you cannot see me, I lay between two lovers at the hearth of fireplaces. I am the twinkle in your child’s eyes. I am hidden in the lines of your mother’s face. I am your father’s shield as he guards your home.
And yet… Some say I am stronger than steel, yet I am as fragile as a tear. Some have never searched for me, yet I am around them always. Some say I die with loss, yet I am endless. And though you cannot hear me, I dance on the laughter of children. I am woven into the whispers of passion. I am in the blessings of Grandmothers. I embrace the cries of newborn babies. And yet… Some say I am a flower, yet I am also the seed. Some have little faith in me, yet I will always believe in them. Some say I cannot cure the ill, yet I nourish the soul.
And though you cannot touch me, I am the gentle hand of the kind. I am the fingertips that caress your cheek at night. I am the hug of a child. I am love.