To my friend on her wedding day

I wrote this for my oldest dearest friend, the girl who shared my dorm room with me when we were both young and silly and kind of stupid too. Now after more than 25 years, she’s married again. And this, I wrote for her wedding.

Marriage. Marriage is a big word. Marriage might be more like a university than a word actually. Christine, you and I started our friendship at a university. It felt big when we were 18. It was new and lessons lay ahead of us, lessons in the classroom and in life. Our friendship has evolved as we have grown and become women, mothers, wives. Like a university, marriage is about lessons, sometimes we don’t want those lessons and sometimes we fail. In my 18 years of marriage, Ric and I have been schooled so many times. We have also had lessons in radical compassion for ourselves and each other. We have studied compromise, sex, housecleaning, financial vision, travel and play. I think the biggest lesson we’ve have learned is the practice of adoration and appreciation.

We practice appreciation and adoration everyday in our marriage. We shower each other with appreciation. We tell each other how much we adore each other. Even when we don’t feel particularly generous with each other, that is when we especially work to be appreciative.

Christine, you deserve appreciation and adoration. Jason, you deserve adoration and appreciation. You both deserve all the lessons that come with this word marriage. They don’t always come when we want them, but to embrace them instead of resist them is the first step to appreciation.

As we stand out here in this wild area, I think of my own marriage in talking about marriage. Marriage is about lessons. But it is also about discovery. Discovery happens when we are open to potential and recognize each other’s time lines as their own. Even if our own timing is different.

We can all appreciate the beauty of this state park from the base of these hills. We can see the hills and breathe in the air and enjoy the scenery. And for some people, this is enough. For others, like you both, and like Ric and me, to view the scenery is an opening, a door to discovery something deeper and higher. It is not enough to stand at the base and gaze up. We want to take those paths up, test our endurance, our grit and find a different perspective. To get to know yourself and your partner in new ways. To test your ability to be more present and take in the challenge and the wide angle view. Marriage offers this same opportunity. You can stay at the base and be there. And enjoy it. Or you can go deep and discover what you’re made of.

We, Ricky and I, embrace that open door and forge together to integrate into the scenery. To make it us, individually and together. Integrating into this scenery, or this thing called marriage, is not the easy or the well-traveled path. But for us, it is the exploration of ourselves, of each other.

The appreciation and the adoration we have for each grows as we walk up the hills, as we move into new places that are unfamiliar and challenging. Appreciation comes from supporting each other in pursuits that help you both grow. In this way a marriage becomes a walk together over time, creating a map of a wilderness that is unique to you together. It belongs to each of you individually and to both of you equally. Marriage is truly a wilderness. It is a wilderness that is yours and only yours, outlining the peaks and the crevasses that you’ve managed through and loved each other along.

Brene Bown has a quote in Braving the Wilderness about standing alone, but I think it also applies to standing in a marriage. It says:

There will be times when standing alone feels too hard, too scary, and we’ll doubt our ability to make our way through the uncertainty. Someone, somewhere, will say, ‘Don’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to survive the wilderness.’ This is when you reach deep into your heart and remind yourself, ‘I am the wilderness.‘”

Marriage is a wilderness where adoration and appreciation are inviting you every minute, every day to say :

“I love you.”

“I trust you.”

“I appreciate you.”

“You beautiful person.”

To you both, I hope you do say these things to each other every day. And most of all, enjoy the wild wild beautiful wilderness that is marriage.


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