Just under a year ago — although it seems I have known them for at least ten lifetimes — my existence was turned upside down and inside out when I met and was welcomed with open arms into an incredible family filled to the brim with love, happiness, sass, gumption, and generosity. First, I met and fell and love with Jenny. Then I got to do the same with her beautiful daughter, Mara.
Last night, Mara married Jeremy — her personal Charles Ingalls — in a moving ceremony filled with heartfelt love and devotion. My friend had a genuine smile of happiness and contentment on her face all night long.
It’s been a long journey for Mara and Jeremy. Their original wedding plans were postponed while Mara underwent chemotherapy. Jeremy was by her side, holding her hand, waiting for the day when they could walk down the aisle in health and happiness together.
Last night was worth the wait.
I was humbled and honored to be chosen as a reader at their wedding. And these are the powerful words they chose for me to share…
“The Invitation” by Oriah
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
And if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love…
For your dream…
For the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow…
If you have been opened by life’s betrayals…
Or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain – mine or your own –
Without moving to hide it… or fade it… or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy – mine or your own –
If you can dance with wildness
And let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us
To be careful…
To be realistic…
To remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself…
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul…
If you can be faithless, and therefore, trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure – yours and mine –
And still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair –
Weary and bruised to the bone –
And do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where… or what… or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself…
And if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Those words could not be more perfect or more sincere for my favorite newlyweds. They are truly open-armed givers — embracing all who cross their paths with comfort and belonging.
Last night was a celebration of life, of what matters. As a brilliant speaker at the reception noted (the same one who belted out an “Ave Maria” that took my breath away)… On Monday, we’ll all go back to work, to our lives, to our responsibilities. We’ll fix breakfast, check our emails, and pay our bills. Tonight is simply a night to celebrate life and the relationships that make us complete. Tonight is about honoring what’s most important.
Then we partied like rock stars.
On Valentine’s Eve, it is good to remember love. Unconditional love. Love without limits, without boundaries, without strings. Love without judgement. Love without fail.
Here’s to my love, my Chris. Here’s to the little loves of my life, Sam, Gus, Mary Claire, and George. Here’s to all my beloved friends and family.
Here’s to love.