Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 4, 2010

Perspectives: Sharing life's ups and downs

By Albert Lewis, Local columnist
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---- — The groom was dark and determined and stood with tears in his eyes as the bride came down the aisle. She was petite, Korean and filled with dreams. It was a wedding of diverse cultures, races and religions unified by shared dreams and love and all that is good about America in the 21st century.

The material possessions of the bride and groom combined were little more than a few cherished objects, some pictures and a change of clothes.

What they did hold were dreams and visions and love; plans they would carry forth through all the seasons of life they would share.

Of course, as at most weddings, there were toasts and well wishes. And as the Jamaican aunt spoke she told all the guests the following: "In Jamaica, we are all family. We come together from different races and religions and beliefs; and we are all family. If you are Jamaican, you are family!"

More tears from more people.

As I stood with the bride and groom I was transported back almost 50 years to a time when my bride and I too stood and shared vows and dared to dream.

We owned a well-used car, some college textbooks and were filled with a combination of dreams and naivete, love and faith in one another. It was America in the early 1960s and, for us, life was filled with promise.

We would move around the country from one learning opportunity to another, creating family and friends along the way. We were optimistic, hard working and blessed with opportunities not available to everyone.

As I looked at the rings the new bride and groom would exchange, I told them about the luster of the rings and how only the craftsman who created them would know if there were any imperfections.

"You are now the craft persons of your own lives," I said. "From this day forward, if there are any imperfections in your lives together, only you who are the craft persons of your own lives will know how to return to the luster of these moments." The bride and groom wept and were joined by others in the family who had traveled the sometimes lackluster road of life.

In a time of economic and political uncertainty, it is commonplace to become pessimistic and to avoid long-term commitments. Yet every day, people choose to make sincere vows and plans that will send them hand-in-hand into an unpredictable world. I don't think any of them, certainly not the bride and groom who stood before me, believe that love will conquer all. I do believe they know the importance of giving and receiving love, of sharing the joys and sorrows of life … and daring to dream. They may not know all this right now; but give them 45 or 50 years and they will have new tears of joy. And the tears of sadness will be somewhat lessened because they shared them too. And if they concentrate on retaining the luster of the moment they will have one of life's greatest gifts.

Albert Micah Lewis is rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Traverse City. His latest book is "Soul Sounds, Reflections on Life."