Friday, March 29, 2013

Vows

I, Ken, do take you, Eva
to be the wife of my days
the companion of my journey
the friend to my life
and the mother of our children
to live with you in joy and
to grow with you in love.
With these words
and all the words of my heart
I marry you and I bind my life to yours.

I'm looking over the booklet that encapsulates our October 2000 wedding ceremony. Twelve and a half years later, I find myself marvelling at how well the late Rev. Janice Aicken crafted this ceremony for a couple she barely knew. From the prayers to the sermon to the poem that punctuated the service midway through--the poem!

MEDICINE

Grandma sleeps with my sick grandpa
so she can get him    during the night
medicine to stop the pain.
In the morning, clumsily I wake them...
Her eyes look at me from underneath his withered arm
The medicine is all
in her long un-braided hair.

--Alice Miller

--everything fit together and resonated strongly in the little Embro church where we bound our lives together.

We married in that litte Embro church because Eva's parents had married there before us. The symbolism, the continuity, mattered to both of us. As I recall, the vows, above, were selected from a passel of possibilities...I certainly couldn't have written any better at the time and doubt I coud now.

I, Ken, do take you, Eva

At first glance, that verb seems a bit harsh: it harkens back to when men raided the cave of their bride's family, 'took' their bride by the hair and dragged her away. I've never felt that way about Eva (or anyone), and I think that's one reason among many that our marriage works as well as it does for us. I don't own Eva and she doesn't own me and that's why marriage is just like single life, except it has security.
No, I hear take in this context and think, what do I take Eva for? I take her for

the wife of my days

The nights go without mention--nobody needs to hear about those anyway, least of all in a church--and yet I think the distinction there is critical. It's the days that make a life, after all.

the companion to my journey

I particularly like this phrase, as clich├ęd as it is nowadays when everyone has come to view their life as a journey. Hey, we've driven to Florida...twice...in a 2003 Toyota Echo, which is only marginally bigger than a Breadbin. And when I say "we" drove, I lie: "she" did all the driving and I was along for the ride. That would have been a test of our relationship if our relationship required testing...but we accomplished both trips with a minimum of friction and crankiness. I try not to feel boastful pride, but I'm proud of us for that.

the friend to my life

Something about "to" rather than "of" there calls out to me. Again, it seems to indicate an independence: even as our lives are about to be bound, we are retaining our distinct identities.

And, of course, Eva and I are friends first and foremost. From my perspective, there's a great deal to be said for marrying your best friend...

and the mother of our children.

That line was remarked over and deliberately included; at the time we fully intended to have at least one child. I find it odd that so many people consider marriage to be all about children when the standard marital vows make no mention of kids at all.
As it stands, he closest thing to kids we have--and they're remarkably close some days--have four legs and fur. And yes, Eva is often "Mommy" in this house and I'm "Daddy". (Oh, how the Tux loves his Mommy...)

with these words and all the words of my heart

(and there are an awful lot of those, aren't there, love? Sometimes my heart won't shut up!)

I marry you and I bind my life to yours

I really like the declaration here. The usual run of marriage vows simply has the couple exchange "I do"'s or occasionally "I will"'s. I think it means something to actually announce what it is you will do. Thoughts are creative; spoken intentions moreso; and actions more still. A marriage vow is a powerful thought, vocalized: a concrete action in front of witnesses. The echo of that vow rings down the years every day for me.

"Bind" is an interesting choice of words. As a noun, it's the last thing you want your marriage to be in. As a verb, it has two contradictory meanings: stationary, as in tied in place...and going somewhere. Both meanings are richly applicable to us. We have come a long way in our time together and we're just gathering a head of steam....

I love you, Eva....








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