Meaning within Your Wedding Rings and Vows
Here’s the scene:
It’s your turn. As your officiant I have your wedding rings in my hand. I have asked both of you to turn towards one another. “Take each other’s hands, look into one another’s eyes, and please repeat after me.”
You see his eyes, or feel the softness of her hands. Then you utter these little phrases, 5 or 6 words at a times, sometimes sputtered, “I promise to…” And there it is. Good times and bad. Richer or poorer. Together or apart. Sickness and in health. Short. Sweet. Succinct.
Whether conscious or unconscious, two people have made a soulful, spiritual imprint onto hearts intending to make a great life together.
The Inevitable Thick and Thins of Life
I admire you. You are all brave, courageous people. Keeping the promises of your wedding vows to love another person through the inevitable thick and thins of life. You are amazing! To go through the unknown events and experiences that will put you to the test, pull you to the limits of despair and shine the brightest joys! You have to have chutzpah to promise to go through whatever it may be with another person.
Because honestly, it can be easier when you don’t have someone else’s issues to deal with. And we all have our issues. And those vows you made on your wedding day are a promise to love regardless of another person’s issues. Or the weather. Or the economy. Or the body that gains weight having your babies. Or is ravaged by a disease you never thought would touch you or your loved one’s body.
And so I understand some won’t be able to keep their promises, even if you don’t. But I want to give you the best chance I can to help you make it through it all. So I have prayed to hold the space for you to make your commitments to one another have meaning and power.
The Spiritual Self
Even though many people don’t really understand what they are getting themselves into when they are married, like how kind life will be to them and how utterly difficult it can be, there is a spiritual Self within them that does know what they are getting into.
The circles of your wedding rings are the symbol of the circle of eternal love that created the Universe. You place your wedding rings on your fingers (left hand, fourth finger is connected by an artery to your heart) to remind you that you both have more than your own understanding to help you through life’s challenges and enjoy life’s gifts. Your wedding rings are reminders you are on an incredible journey into learning how to love deeply and completely with the help of your spiritual Self. You know you love each other. But in another five years…you may be blown away by how you experience love then.
Here today, at the altar of whatever venue we are at, you are in the throws of the celebration of optimistic love. You believe your mate is someone who loves you no matter what. For yourself, you want to be the person who can love another no matter what.
Unconditional love is calling you into loving more than you do now.
Very few of us know how to love unconditionally. That’s because most of us have been primarily in contact with conditional love all our life. Conditional love given by people who in their day and time made vows, and shared their wedding rings to remind them to love unconditionally. But they forgot, at least now and then. Just like you will.
We have all fallen prey to the –“I love you when you … fill in the blank with “get all A’s” “make me smile” “take out the garbage every Friday” “cut your hair the way I like it” “stay the weight I like” “save me from my unruly relatives.” All these “when you’s” are really saying I am happy when you are the way I want you to be. That’s conditional love.
The spiritual Self within you knows what is conditional and unconditional love. You will be unhappy when you love conditionally. You will be content when you love unconditionally. That’s the simplest way to test where you are coming from. How you feel is the way to check if you are living up to your wedding vows. But not to take your mate’s inventory. Your vows and wedding rings are reminders of what YOU promised to do.
I Now Pronounce You
Now your vows have now been spoken. You place your wedding rings on each other’s left hand fourth finger by saying, “With this ring I thee wed.” Maybe he or she has to help you get it on each other’s finger but laughter is a good thing. Not to worry. Keep going…
I lead us in prayer or have us stop for a moment of silent blessing. Before I pronounce you husband and wife I say, “Under the authority of the laws of the land (meaning I get to make this union legal) and in the name of the spirit of wholeness which has brought you together in marriage…” What I wish to convey by these words is your partner is your teacher, your adversary, your friend and lover. Wholeness means taking it all in, being with it all, and loving no matter what. Sometimes I say, “the Holy Spirit who has brought you together in marriage.” The Holy Spirit is the teacher within, so the meaning is the same, the wording different.
You are asking a great deal of yourself. When you speak your vows, you are promising a lot AND being promised the receipt of a great gift. Unconditional love. And I know you can both do it. You are amazing. You are brave. You are courageous. Your journey into love will take a lifetime…until death do you part. So you have time.
I Hope You Won’t Quit
I hope you won’t quit before the lessons have been learned and joys have been experienced. Some of you may have to quit because you just won’t be able to find the strength within yourself to love the way you would like to. But I know you have a power greater than yourself with you every step of the way, and that presence never ever gives up on you.
You are well on your way. Your marriage has so much potential, and you have chosen someone really special to enjoy and grow in life with. And so …
I now pronounce you Partners in Life.