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Why I Don’t Do Weddings

I’ve stopped going to weddings.  First, because they always make me cry, even if I don’t know the couple at the altar (which brings us to the question of “why are you at the wedding of people you don’t even know?”) and next, because I realize I do not fully understand the Sacrament and each time I’m at a wedding, I see that hardly anyone does. That pains me because so many lives are hinged on what happens after.  I know because I’ve been there and learned the hard way. So, everyone knows I just don’t do weddings. I promised my younger sister that I would make an exception for her, though, and I’m hoping that by then I would have come to a better understanding of what it means.

Why do people cry at weddings? A dear friend who works as an Assistant Director and acting coach, told me that while filming a wedding scene on his last project, people were in tears.  Everyone was aware this was not a real wedding and yet when all the actors and extras were dressed, in church and acting the part, the tears and emotions were genuine. I believe there is an unconscious and very deep remembering of a union we cannot even fathom–of heaven and earth, spirit and man, the cosmic and the everyday; there is a memory of the condition of being whole and united with who we truly are, before the inevitable fall into consciousness. Every union between man and woman is a striving towards this condition of total integration and the wedding is the consecration into the spirit–it is spiritualizing a physical coming together towards an authentic wholeness. At least that’s what I think it is.

The key issue for me is consciousness.  That is the thing I find missing at weddings today. Do we really know what we are doing?  What are we really uniting? What do our vows contain and what is the very substance we are bringing into the world? The tears and emotions tell us that something bigger and beyond us is taking place and yet because it is unrecognized and unnamed, the significance of it is mostly lost and everyone goes home with a sense of emptiness, sadness and longing instead, despite the outward sense of joy.  At least that’s how it goes for me.

The moment two people come together and consecrate their union, the relationship becomes part of the larger community.  It is no longer man and woman for themselves.  Why do so many people gather at a wedding, especially here in the Philippines? There is clearly a gesture of something being birthed and recognized in the realm of community life. So what does this mean for the couple? To me, the question is “How will this union serve the larger whole ?” This goes beyond having children and starting a family, but points directly at the substance of a union.

Which brings us to the issue of integrity.  An inauthentic union pollutes a community. I first read this in Julian Sleigh’s book, “Friends and Lovers”.  Of course. A union that is full of deception and betrayal and shows a front that has nothing to do with the truth affects everyone around it. It is also a grave transgression against the spiritual substance it brought forth–and was witnessed by the community–during the wedding ceremony.  A successful and authentic union blesses the community with the very substance of integrity.  I feel this every time I am around a good marriage. I feel the strength of that substance and I appreciate it.  I feel drawn and blessed by it.  It is a true grace.

These are but a few questions we need to visit. So few of us bother to explore what marriage really means. We just “download” everything and live each day without asking the important questions of substance and essence. The wedding is important, not because of the dress, music, or flowers, but the quality of awareness and consciousness everybody brings to help create the proper vessel for the spiritual substance to enter into the community and bless it with the inner strength and grace it will need to flourish.

So excuse me for making a deliberate decision not to be a fixture at any wedding. Until I can become fully present and fully human as a witnessing member of this Sacrament, I choose to have my absence be a sign of respect and recognition for something truly great that I have yet to understand.

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