Musings On Marriage: Leaps Of Faith

Reader Lizzie sent me this fantastic passage by Jewish feminist writer Anita Diamant from her book “Pitching My Tent.” In this passage she discusses the reasons why she married her husband, and had a wedding – not just courthouse vows. It is so lovely and wise that I had to share:

Why marry? Because marriage publicly affirms the possibility of moving toward another person without reservation. With that momentum, we are propelled toward the center of the heart, toward the center of the universe, and however far that gets us is farther than we’d otherwise go alone. Why marry? Because every wedding enacts a personal connection to the universal story of the human hope for wholeness. Because by stepping into the hyperbarically charged space on the altar (in front of the priest, under the canopy), the bride and groom join in a dance that goes all the way back to the beginning of memory. Getting married is an attempt at turning air into matter, transforming the ineffable workings of the heart into things that are “real”: the invitation, the dress, the ring. The words that constitute a wedding are magical incantations of the highest order. In the presence of witnesses and voiced by a vested authority, two people are pronounced a single unit. Ta-da! And by the way, the legal arguments for extending the marriage franchise to queer couples simply acknowledge that gay men and lesbians are members of the human family, complete with photographers, caterers, and the challenge of juggling Thanksgiving between two families of origin. Every wedding is an invocation of peace and wholeness and connection and joy. Good wishes flow from family and friends, through history and community, with wings and prayers and everything that might turn out to be holy in the universe. So that’s why Jim and I got married — to receive that shower of blessings, hoping with all our hearts to make them last.”

So please. Next time you feel guilty because you are stressing out a little about your dress, or your invitations, or your rings, trying to get them to be *right* for you both, and someone asks you “Why?” or “What are you doing?” Tell them you are attempting to turning air into matter, and will they please let you concentrate??

PS All you smart Jewish wedding ladies – go leave a comment on Ms. Diamant’s blog. Tell her how much you appreciate her work, because I think she’d like that (and I know you own and love A New Jewish Wedding.)

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  • This was really nice.

    Love the "juggling thanksgiving" part.

  • Wow, those would even make great words to include in a ceremony!!

  • I'm with Victory Bird. I'm not Jewish, but I'm a feminist. Certainly words to use in a ceremony.

    In all seriousness, Meg, this was exactly what I needed to see this morning. I'm very, very thankful for you and Lizzie for sending these words my way. It makes my very late night last night seem a bit more worthwhile.

  • Wow, I agree with what everyone else has said, totally. This definitely brings everything back into perspective, when you can be tempted to just run away to Vegas or something. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • really beautiful. i just passed this along to all my engaged friends.

  • Red Tent is one of my favourite novels. Great passage.

  • I'm not Jewish, but so much of Christian wedding traditions stem (in some part) from the old Hebrew ones, and the oldies are the goodies, IMO. I really like the "air into matter" bit. You're brilliant. Lizzie is brilliant.
    Happy Thursday!

  • I think there is something in these words for everyone – from many faiths. Beautiful.

  • LPC

    I've read her historical novel – The Red Tent. Feminist retelling of the story of Rachel and Leah and Jacob. Does that count?

  • I love this. I think with a little editing (my parents will storm out if I use the word 'queer'), this would be great in the ceremony! My fiance and I we just talking about all this. Wonderful.

  • K

    oh how beautiful! thank you oh-wise-meg!

  • Oh, boy. You've done it again. You've said exactly what I needed to hear. I've had precicely one freak out during this whole process (over the dress) and I've been so hard on myself for caring that much about a silly dress.

    "Getting married is an attempt at turning air into matter, transforming the ineffable workings of the heart into things that are 'real'"

    These words eased the stress I'm feeling this week. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    P.S. I will definitely go thank Ms. Diamant because, of course, I own and love her book. :)

  • This was so lovely. I am ahuge Anita Diamant fan (The Red Tent change my world) and to hear her persepctives on marriage are always a treat.

  • I love this. It explains perfectly why we are getting married! I have stashed it in my ceremony file on the computer and I think I should get that book!

  • Like so many above, I read that and thought "that would be great as a part of a ceremony." Thanks so much for the quote and the info about the author. I haven't heard of her before and may have to check her out.

  • thanks for sharing

  • Another reason to love Anita Diamont! Thank you for sharing. Beautiful.

  • Beautiful! This will go in my "readings" file!

  • The Red Tent is my most favorite book and my most cherished read. i always turn to it when I need something familiar. I am studying Judaism for possible conversion (though it has nothing to do with my fiance – he's not Jewish) and always find inspiration in her words. (Her husband converted to Judaism before he married her.) I think I would like to have this read immediately before the ceremony begins…a msg from the two of us to our guests about why we are doing this.

  • Thank you Meg for posting this wonderful reading. I am Jewish, and Ms. Diamant books are all inspiring. I love The Red Tent. And thank you for having a Jewish elements in your blog. Jewish wedding blogs or anything for that matter are far and few between. I have started my own with your inspiration. Ive just posted some breathtaking Ketubahs.

  • LOL, that's a brilliant response at the end.

  • really beautiful. it puts into words what i felt but couldn't articulate.

    thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you Meg – yet again! I can't tell you how often I need reminders of why we're throwing the party and not just hitting up city hall, or taking our immediate family to a desert island somewhere. I know that the whole wedding thing isn't for everyone, but it is for me – I just forget why sometimes!

  • So beautiful. I just showed this to my fiancee, as last night we had a rather intense conversation about why I want a wedding and not just a partnership.

  • The Grg

    I got engaged three weeks ago and have already been through all the ups (asking my best friend to be my maid of honor) and the downs (crying, yelling match with mom) and found myself wondering if Vegas is nice this time of year. This article helped put it all in perspective for me and I have printed it out and pasted it on the front cover of my modest wedding notebook. Thank you.

  • Abby J. (formerly C.)

    Just got back from my second wedding and our brief honeymoon, and clicked the Recently Married link at the very top. I’ve been idly paging through the Reclaiming Wife posts, and WHAM this hit me in the face.

    Yes, yes, YES! This paragraph rings so true for me. It’s why we got married, and tomorrow we’ll be 1 month in. Married life is good. Thanks, APW.

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