Category Archives: Shakespeare

Life is your Valentine

The Seed Cracked Open

It used to be

That when I would wake in the morning

I could with confidence say,

“What am ‘I’ going to

Do?

That was before the seed

Cracked open.

Now Hafiz is certain:

There are two of us housed

In this body,

Doing the shopping together in the market and

Tickling each other

While fixing the evening’s food.

Now when I awake

All the internal instruments play the same music:

“God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do

For the world

Today?”

–          Hafiz rendered by Daniel Ladinsky from The Gift

Good afternoon Sweet Hearts,

Today is named after a Roman saint who defied an emperor’s ban on marriage and united scores of young lovers in matrimony. He was executed for this on February 14th. “Valentine’s Day” then supplanted Lupercalia, a Roman fertility festival.

Later, Shakespeare and Chaucer weaved Valentine’s day into their work and exchanging romantic handmade paper cards became popular in Brittan during the Middle Ages. This gave way to big business in our modern Hallmark age. But Valentine’s is also a day for true love to flourish like flowers coming out of the February snow. Love is certainly not restricted to couples, or even a traditional love affair with God, which is why I chose the Hafiz poem above. Making life our Valentine allows for a sweetness that lingers longer than an everlasting gobstopper.

“The waters of life are right there…wherever you are- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”  -Joseph Campbell

Since you are a beautiful vase filled with the waters of life, let me offer you these-

Roses

Everyone now and again wonders about

those questions that have no ready

answers: first cause, God’s existence,

what happens when the curtain goes

down and nothing stops it, not kissing,

not going to the mall, not the Super

Bowl.

“Wild roses,” I said to them one morning.

“Do you have the answers? And if you do,

would you tell me?”

“The roses laughed softly. “Forgive us,”

they said.  “But as you can see, we are

just now entirely busy being roses.”

-Mary Oliver

However you spend today, know that you are loved!

Cherish your current beautiful manifestation.

Committed to choosing one another

Love and creativity within the wedding ceremony.

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate then when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
– Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
– Dr. Seuss

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
– Maya Angelou

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
– Mignon McLaughlin

********************

 

This weekend I had the sweet honor of officiating at my nephew Ian’s wedding down in Jupiter, Florida.  My uncle Jeff performed the ceremony for Julia and I at our wedding. Both Ian and I penned our services with our partners, to better reflect our beliefs.

Julia and I based our service on a Jewish ceremony. We did our best to supplant entrenched patriarchal ritual and language with egalitarian and mystical inclusiveness that honored tradition while bridging the gap between our families and the Catholic-Judaic divide. (As a kid I used to say that Judaism and Catholicism were a synapse apart; both of them were motivated by guilt. ) We found the common thread was love.

My nephew Ian and his beautiful bride Claire are best friends happily growning and intertwining their lives together. Their ceremony did not have any religious overtones but recognized that their union allowed them to “understand, support and nurture eachother without sacrificing who they were.”  They lifted the egalitarian spirit high, focusing on their love, which spilled over into splintered factions of the family and embued us all with tangible hope.

They didn’t promise anything  in their ceremony as they don’t believe marriage is about permanence but adaptation. “People, emotions, relationships change.” So, they didn’t vow to always feel exactly the same as they did standing together before us, but they commited to choosing one other every day, moment to moment.

I got to ask Ian if he chose Claire “to be his partner through all of life’s adventures, valuing her being, her growing and her happiness alongside his own.”

Claire got to ponder if she choose Ian in the same way. Both of them responded with those two words, that when uttered in complete earnest ring out like bells: “I do.”

Claire walked down the aisle to music from Wes Anderson’s Royal Tannenbaum’s soundtrack. They led the procession away from the alter to something from A Life Aquatic. Their ceremony and the whole wedding had the colorful triumph of a Wes Anderson movie.

Ian proposed to Claire with our Shakespeare-inspired song “God’s Spies”. Julia and I were further honored by getting to sing it as they swirled just above the Loxahatchee river for their first dance.

The wedding coordinator said she had managed thousands of nuptuals but she hadn’t seen a couple who only had eyes for each other the way Ian and Claire had. As she said this it was hours later. Claire and Ian were both still  dancing. They were reaching out for one another, connecting, twirling and the stars were laughing.

“We are telling different tales. Secrets falling from our lips. When our eyes are free from scales, we can see what was eclipsed. 

… So we’ll ‘pray and sing and tell old tales and laugh at guilded butterflies and take upon us the mystery of things… as if we were God’s Spies.’ “

-Shakespeare/ The Levins

My parents celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on Ground hog’s day but they also got to dance and have their own festive feast the next night with all their loved ones around them.  A bunch of us sat around late that night sharing stories from our various wedding experiences.

Julia and I head back up to New York today, back to the cold of winter. We face the prospect with the strength of love renewed, choosing one another moment to moment.

May your connection eclipse the cold of tragic headlines and bring you to a place where all you hold dear dances with you in earnest delight.

With each other, for each other & for others

As Indian summer is dovetailing into winter here in NY,  Julia and I cleaned out our living space over the weekend, boxing up summer clothes and pulling out our coats and sweaters. We did this while preparing to go on the road, which we were finding a wee bit stressful. In the midst of cleaning Julia found an old birthday card she had given me:
 
“I don’t know exactly where our journey’s going to take us or what might happen along the way. But I do know who we’ll be when we get there…
Two cute little old people- still holding hands, still making each other laugh, still totally in love.”
 
Julia had written me a note in the card, part of which said: ” we promised each other that we’d guide each other and become the most beautiful people we can with each other, for each other and for others.”
 
There can be a stress placed on the bond of a partnership, especially when you live and work together. The “laundry reality” doesn’t end and piles up. I realized that the love we have for our partners isn’t about what they can do for us but for who they are. Feeling their being in our lives, not as a completion but an overlapping whole frees up space for soaring.
 
As we sang through our song inspired by King Lear last night it struck me again that as we strive for what we hope to see while the seasons change- if we love each other, not for services rendered but for who we are innately, we touch something eternal within ourselves.
 
” …the news is like the tide, with who looses and who wins. Packs and sects of great ones, who is out and who is in -ebbs and flows like moon while we’re wandering on the heath. Oh, that fickle changing loon with us playing underneath..
As we head off it occurs to me, there is still time to forgive. Like in King Lear Act V scene III- 
‘So we’ll live and pray and sing and tell old tales and laugh at gilded butterflies and take upon us the mystery of things, as if we were God’s spies.’ ” 
– Shakespeare/ The Levins
IMG_3388
 
Love, unshackled from expectation to you and yours.

King Lear Laughs

Here is a video of The Levins singing a new song inspired by King Lear: The Levins at the Towne Crier, Beacon, NY – God’s Spies
  King Lear is essentially us in our pride needing to know how much we are loved.  That which loves us the most purely and ineffably seems to remain silent while that which is false proclaims it has our best interest at heart and once we have separated ourselves from what is essential to us, we go mad.  However, if before we are lead away to our supposed doom, we recognize the love that was always there, we can walk off the stage in the fullness of our being, “..and sing and tell old tales and laugh at gilded butterflies and take upon us the mystery of things… as if we were God’s spies.”*
 *- King Lear Act 5, Scene 3- Shakespeare
Old Will Shakespeare has 157 million pages on Google that refer to him.   The wisdom and wit he managed to impart to us transcends the common wheel of daily drama.  We are suffering from the same components of our collective dumbshow as the groundlings experienced at the Globe while watching Hamlet for the first time. Yet, the perspective his plays offer us allows us to rise not only to the finest seats in the house but out through the roof and above the firmament.
Our lives are not a forgone conclusion but “One of the finest comforts that life offers us is that you can not sincerely help others without helping yourself.” – Shakespeare
“Let no one who loves be unhappy… even love unreturned has its rainbow.”  –  Shakespeare
Savor your week and may your time be as gold collected at your rainbow’s end ; )