These days, for two people getting married, it is not at all unusual that one or both of them have been married before and have children. So, oftentimes now, it is not just the couple joining their lives together in marriage, but also it’s a joining of their families, their children, together. In a sense, it is the whole family getting married. At a wedding I officiated last Saturday, near Albany NY, the bride and groom married each other AND the bride’s three young children. As part of the ceremony, they asked me to share this story:
“Along the California coast, there lives a community of sequoia trees, some reaching over 350 feet into the air. Some of these giants are over 2000 years old, unscathed by wind and rain, storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires. But how? How do they survive all this fury? One would think it must be the depth of their roots or perhaps their brute strength and solidarity. Actually, it is quite the opposite. The roots of a 250-foot tall sequoia are a mere 5 feet deep. 5 feet! Instead of growing down into the earth to find the sustenance they need, they grow out – up to 50 feet, in search of one another. When they find each other, their roots intertwine and they fuse into one – supporting, strengthening – an entire network of roots, spreading far and wide, holding each other, sharing with each other – their lives becoming one so that each magnificent tree can not only grow but thrive – reaching its branches high to the sun.
And so it is with this family today. We join our hands and our hearts, becoming an intertwined network of strength, support, of LOVE, surrounding and supporting, nourishing and growing together as family, facing the storms of life, the fires of anger, the rains of sorrow, the blossoms of joy, unbreakable from this day forth, far far into the future, as far as our spirits can soar, and as close as this very moment.”
I also led the family in a unity ritual, known as the sand ceremony. The bride and groom and their 3 children each had a bud vase with different colored sand in each one. Each member of the family, beginning with the couple, then poured their sand into one larger container, while a friend sang “One Hand, One Heart.”
“Why sand? First, sand is extremely strong – it’s the main component of concrete, and as it is able to stand up to all weather and years and years of use, so too may your marriage. Also, as sand is the ideal place to grow many crops, may it symbolize the ideal place for your family to grow full and healthy. And, as sand is put into bags to make sandbags that are a great form of protection, so too may your partnership and home be a haven a protection for all the you from the stresses of the world. And finally, while each grain of sand retains its individual identity, it is almost impossible not to blend them. They become inseparable. So it is with your marriage and your family.”
Congratulations to the newly-wedded family!