Thirty-five years ago this week, my husband and I, on one of the coldest nights of our lives, faced each other and declared, “We will all, verily, abide by the will of God.”
There were seven other people in the room with us that night, two of them the witnesses required for our Bahá’í marriage to be legal.
Most of the evening is a blur, quite frankly, though I do remember one especially poignant moment when my mother read a prayer, and these words stood out: “Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time.”
These were still echoing in my head when, as we drove toward Canada for our wedding trip, Jon remarked that he had also noticed the spirit of what those words evoked when he felt a whole new significance about the vow we’d each spoken. The essentials of a Bahá’í marriage ceremony can seem so simple that it’s easy to overlook their depths.
“I realized,” he told me, “that when I said, ‘We will all, verily, abide by the will of God’, I was referring not just to the two of us, but something we were committing to with every one there with us, supporting our marriage, and our future children, and every soul that we’ll know. THAT was the commitment we are making. And our marriage itself is WHERE we’re committing to do that.”
And indeed, the spiritual resonance of that vow has been with us ever since, though we had no idea where it would take us. As another Year of the Horse opens, we’re naturally remembering the last one, 12 years ago, which we spent in China. The spirit of our marriage vow was and is a foundation for us as parents, accompanies our every shared decision, our many travels, the bonds we forge with others, even our reconnection with our mutual childhood home of Germany.
In this past year, I finally had the opportunity to dedicate two books to this partner, this soul mate, who abides with me at the very center and core of my life and being. What I recognized as I wrote those dedications is that our marriage is a means by which we help each other learn to be encouraged about the potential in our truest selves, and kind about the struggles and confusions of our very human ones. I’m coming to believe that this is the essence of what that vow we said is pointing to.
There are some things we cannot know or understand without the passing of time, and the accumulation of experience, as well as reflection on that experience. What I feel more deeply each day is that the commitment of our marriage, the fortress for well-being that it is designed to be in the advancing – and spiritualizing – of civilization, seems a little-understood jewel. But it is unquestionably an ever-revealing treasure that illuminates my life, and my heart, each and every day.