"North of the Rose Garden at the Second Tree Near the Cliff"
two cultures and the two faiths of the Michelle and An the bride and groom. I was quite proud of the resulting “program” which included the ringing of tingshas or Tibetan bells, the burning of incense to honor ancestors and a reading taken from one of the Buddha’s sermons – all of which were chosen to represent An’s roots. It also featured selected verses on love from the New Testament (I Corinthians Chapter 13) and the three quintessential Filipino rituals involving a veil, cord and coins. I was especially pleased that
Michelle was satisfied with the end result. In fact, she was especially
effusive with praise:
“I just finished reading the whole program… OH MY GOSH it really brought HAPPY TEARS to my eyes! … That couldn't have been construct-ed any more perfectly… It is so beautiful and perfect! You are so brilliant at what you do! … I am so happy and over-whelmed with joy! I love this program you have created for us! Thank you so much!! … I am so glad we found you and no one else!”
I could not have been more glad and more honored to have a part in this loving couple's celebration. Their wedding took place on their 16-year, 2-month anniversary of being together! ♥ ♥ ♥
Later, as the sky began to take on darker shades, the day found me sitting in my car in the parking lot of the Cabrillo Beach Maritime Museum in San Pedro, texting with the couple who’d just days earlier in the week flown in from Texas. It was only late during the previous day that they’d decided on which beach they wanted their sunset ceremony to take place. Christine’s response to my text relaying that I’d arrived was that they were, “Trying! Other bride [Jerri] had difficulties getting ready.” I was soon to have my own difficulties.
Not too long after our text exchanges, the two brides along with their two children drove up in their rented vehicle. As they pulled to a stop next to my car I jumped out. I was eager to greet them and to get their Commitment Ceremony, celebrating their domestic partnership, started before it got to be too dark. At the precise moment that I closed my door a realization hit me, and Christine must have read it on my face because she put an audible voice to the question that boomed inside my head: “Did you just lock your keys in the car?” Of course, I had… along with the program on which I’d so diligently worked and my notary kit.
As we waited for the Auto Club to come to my rescue, we scouted for and found a more secluded part of the beach we determined would keep the intimacy of our party of five intact. While taking photo-graphs, the service truck driver called to say he was en route. We considered waiting, but then made the decision to proceed with the ceremony. We did so sans script of any kind, but with no shortage of sincerity of emotion or depth of love. Even the children were moved close to tears. ♥ ♥ ♥
The next day, Sunday, provided me with my third and final ceremony for this particular weekend. I was again on the 405 Freeway, however, this time northbound and heading towards Santa Monica. Southern California freeways have a way of providing us with the luxury of alone time, thinking our alone thoughts. My thoughts were naturally on Nathalie and Daniel. They were a couple I’d previous joined in marriage while volunteering as a Deputy Commissioner at the Los Angeles County Clerk’s Office. They mentioned then that they planned to renew their vows at a later date, at a time when they would be able to celebrate with more family and friends. They asked if I would consider officiating it and I was delighted when a month later they actually did
contact me to do just that. It was to their ceremony that I was headed.
I arrived on the site, set up and tested my PA system, then chatted some with a few of the guests. Soon Nathalie and Daniel appeared, walking together arm in arm, looking every bit as if that was how they were meant to be. I’d not planned it, but opened their ceremony with one of the thoughts I had while on the 405 and related it to the couple. According to Hindu tradition, “When the one man loves the one woman and the one woman loves the one man, the angels abandon heaven, sit at that house and sing for joy.” I suggested that we in attendance should not be surprised to find a stray feather or two among us.
When I had occasion to show a photo I’d taken of Nathalie and Daniel to my mother, she commented, “Ohhh… they are lovely.” And, indeed, they were as they stood before me, there (as their invitations described) “north of the rose garden, second tree from the cliff.” ♥ ♥ ♥