(Summary of wedding reflections offered October 19, 2013 at the wedding of Ian Mahoney and Emily Lantzy at Wayside Presbyterian Church, Hamburg, NY)
Marriage can be one of the great tests of life in trying to remember one’s identity. Perhaps for women it becomes a greater challenge but it’s applicable to both. Marriage changes one’s identities, especially the external ones. We become known by other names, “Mrs.” or “husband” or “wife,” or “father and mother, grandfather and grandmother!” Despite the idea we feel strongly attracted to the other, to the point of thinking ourselves as “one,” we who have been married very long know such doesn’t last. We usually discover our attraction to the other is very opposite from our own temperament and likes. “Opposites attract,” and therein may lie seeds of deep conflict after frequent “glow times” wear off. Most of us in marriage then ask, “How did I get into this?” In marrying another, few of us married the actual person but only our idea or imagination of the person. We married illusions rather than reality. And soon we wondered again, who am I? What did I do? How and why did this happen?
A large reason we lose sight of harmony and sense of “oneness” in marriage is ignorance of our basic identities. Basic, enduring identities don’t waver and change from day to day, year to year. So what is it? Some call it the spiritual or psychological inward “I-ness” or the inward “observer.” Some think of this aspect as the “Universal Eye-ness” such as we see in some religions including the ancient symbol from Egypt and used by Masonic Temples. It’s at the top of our nation’s capital dome, influenced by the Masonic Universalism of our nation’s origins. It’s the Eye of the Observer we have which asks or reminds, “Who am I?”
I think mostly in religious terms since it’s been the nature of my career. Thus I call it the God within, our inward Divinity, the Christ Center, or in the East the Atman or Buddha Self. It is the part of us which never changes but just “is.” It “is” when we are awake or asleep, angry or at peace, feeling oneness or not. In calling it our God or Christ Self, I think of it as the best of what we refer to as God. And in a word, God is love, and love is compassion, kindness, patience, perseverance, and above all change and pettiness. It is different from this world or universe of constant change and decay. It is the same yesterday, day and forever.
Thus think of your Center, your “I-ness” as the best idea of what you believe as good, kind, and compassionate. Unfortunately, many if not most raised in traditional 4th century church religious teachings, grew to accept this God as petulant, changeable, moody, and at time sadistic and masochistic. We heard of a God who loves some and hates others, who wipes out and destroys whole peoples, tribes and nations, as evidenced by our own and current history. It is the God vehemently rejected by the growing body of atheism, convinced all the wars and violence in history began in religious ideas of God or Ultimate Being. How tragic and sad. No wonder the late George Carlin became so popular in his classic monologue titled, “Religion is Mostly Bullshit!”
But if you want the best hope for a stable and fulfilling marriage, find it within yourself first, in your Eye-ness. Don’t seek it in another’s body or beautiful or possessions of any kind. Don’t seek it in an idea which is bipolar in loving some and hating others. Find it as your own Ultimate Self as Love and love it with all your mind and being, and your spouse and neighbor likewise. Look for this Entity and Presence is everyone, regardless of how separated they seem to act and speak. And you will learn the difference between reality and illusion, between holding grudges and practicing forgiveness, between a fulfilling life and a sad frustrated one.
Of course, such remembrance takes constant practice since we exist in time/space bodies which constantly beg for attention. Yet this is our purpose; to practice with everyone we meet, in home and outside. And when we realize our sadness, loneliness, anger and despair, our deep attachment to changeable bodies and outward form, we forgive ourselves, return to our sanity remembering the Love within, our True, Christ Self.
May our marriages and all relationships be seen as tests of our inward Realities, and may we grow to pass more such tests in love rather than in failure. Amen.