Marriage…What an interesting ritual the North American wedding can be. Yesterday, I attended the first wedding since I’d donned my “writer’s” cap. I tend to see the world through a more analytical lens now–though not so abstractly that I am without my empathy. So I studied the preparations and behaviors of your average, no-frills, rural wedding, which I feel was as essential a sample of the ritual as one can find. Sure, it was missing the glamor of a fancier, metropolitan affair. Sure, there was no air conditioning in the chapel, and the minster was probably as delirious as the rest of us from the heat, which caused her to drop the rings and to repeat her ominous proclamations more than once. (Progressive flag: an ordained female minister! Cool, cool.) However, in the absence of a panoply of Swarovski crystals and reverent displays of wealth that can masquerade as affection, I was humbled to observe the rudimentary essentials of the ritual that is marriage.
And it is a ritual. Fealty to the Divine is pledged, sanctimonious vows are sworn, blood and flesh is eaten (metaphorical, but still). It’s all quite Medieval. All that was missing was a sacrificial lamb. Furthermore, the traditions that follow our commitment to God also seem out of place in a modern age. There’s the bridal-bouquet toss, which summons all the single women (and girls) into a desperate herd to be the next claimed and sworn into the married-circle. Last night, one of the poor flower girls was toppled by an arm-flailing-inebriated lunatic and no shits or apologies were given. Such is the sway of these firmly ingrained traditions upon us; to swear, belong, and honour ourselves to another (and also to the canon of society). Then we have the misogynistic, public deflowering/ claiming of the bride with the “garter-toss”, and the ensuing and similar bull-rush of men clamouring to be next in line to plant their flag before God, church and family.
I’m married, and quite happy with that commitment–this isn’t a veiled attack on the institution. I’m simply wondering how the ritual of marriage should (or has, in your experience) evolve since the days of absolute Church dominion and draconian property law that laid the foundation for our current behaviours. If even Pope Francis, head of one of the staunchest, greatest Faiths in our world, can bend like a wise-sapling to the winds of the times, perhaps the rest of us should, too. (I’m aware that Pope Francis hasn’t directly discussed redefining marriage or its customs, and probably never will, though his inclination for actually acknowledging social issues–rather than denying them as the Church has historically done–speaks to his putting on a progressive facade.)
I don’t think that everything has to change: the expressions of human desire, the need to procreate, to belong and to love, the announcement of our devotion to each other and the Divine. It’s some of the other customs that I find a bit rusted for our time. I think that God/ Buddha/ Cthulhu/ whatever can be incorporated into these ceremonies without being such a fearful, old-school “fire-and-brimstone” force. (Except in the case of a Cthulhuist wedding, in which sacrifice and blood are pretty much required.) The Divine whispers to us through tree-rustles and wind-chimes. The Divine kisses our cheeks with lips of sunlight. I feel the Divine when I watch my partner sleep, or when I place my hand, trepidatiously, on his heart as he does. When I “remarry” my partner–next year, in celebration of 10 years together–I’m going to try to incorporate all of what we’ve learned and experienced together into a new ritual of commitment.
It could be one hot, tangled, circus of a mess, but it will be our ceremony and the Divine will be there.
P.S. I’m away on vacation and off to a Pow Wow today. I wish I had that experience resonating inside of me now, rather than later, since I’m sure my day will broaden my interpretation of Divinity, humanity, nature, and love. Alas, I blog from the heart, with my sleepy brain, and with my Sunday morning tea (and on an iPad today, which isn’t the best writing tool–do pardon any typos). Next week, I’ll share pics and insights from what should be a transcendent afternoon!
All my love,