Last November, I was blessed enough to co-officiate the wedding of my niece Aba and my new nephew Micah. Two tribes became one for a week, as loved ones gathered in Todos Santos, Mexico, to enjoy a week of kinship and ritual. We ate and surfed and laughed and pampered and practiced yoga and danced and did I mention that we laughed?
I want to share with you what I shared there, because ultimately, I was talking about yoga. Yoga is a word whose roots mean “to yoke,” or unite. To tie together, or to journey towards. This was not only a yoking of Aba and Micah, but also a union of Abas’ and Micahs’ larger families, and a blending of being and coming, yin and yang.
Thank you for sharing this special family time with me:
It’s such a joy to share this honor with each one of you, and it’s a treasure to be a part of this ceremony for our beloved Aba and Micah.
Gabe has spoken so eloquently about love and marriage that I just want to add a story, and a bit about why this story is apt on this day.
I remember the day well: the four-poster bed I was in…the bright blue winter sky through the window. My sister Alex was jostling me awake, saying “Jess, you’re an Auntie, You’re an Auntie!” It took me some time to shake off my sleep and put together the fullness of what she was saying to me, but it crystallized at some point: Vic has had the baby! There’s another member of our family here now! Who would she be??? In that moment, I got to add a title to myself: Auntie. Though she’d been growing for the better part of a year, this birth was a demarcation of time, wherein I gained an addition to my identity. Even though I was only 11, I “became” an aunt.
For awhile, I didn’t know much about babies, and probably thought more about George Michael than Aba. But that slowly changed over time. I became an aunt that December, but I kept on “becoming.” I held her and played with her and I watched her grow pudgy and gleeful. I proudly became a babysitter. I watched her evolve into a sibling, and I marveled at how she literally led the pack of Vic’s day care kiddos—her early days in event planning—and I became an even-more-curious-observer of people. I kept becoming as I began to understand that she and I had a very unique and important bond: that she looked up to me. Understanding this fact really changed me; I became, more and more, a role model. I introduced Aba to her first feminist literature and always tried to fill in the gaps where I knew Vic might be a bit…vanilla?…and in so doing I became a teacher. Many times over the years, when her (of-course-all-knowing!) mother had solid advice that was only eliciting Aba’s eye-rolls, I would sneak in the same advice packaged differently; I became a bridge. I guided her as best as I could through her move to the West Coast for college and I here I became a worrier. In many ways, this taste of that darker underbelly of parenthood rounded out all the joyful, breezy experiences we’d previously shared, helping me to become, though not technically yet, more of a mother.
So Aba helped me to become, you see. She helps me to become. It goes without saying that, over all this time, she too was becoming. Becoming, becoming, becoming… As was Micah. As were we all. Especially when we allow ourselves to be affected by those we love.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “become.” In some ways it’s about being who you already are—“be.” And in other ways it’s about accepting love’s invitation to “come”—to step forth towards others, and to step forth into newer selves. This word is a beautiful symbol of self with other. Something that has been fascinating, and wonderful, and telling, is that when I ask Aba and Micah separately what they love about one another, they both tell me about what the other “brings out” in themselves. They don’t so much say “I love X and Y and Z about [the other]” they say things like (and I can quote) “she draws out my true goof, my inner clown that can say so much…often without any words.“ And, “he brings out the optimist in me…and the process- and relationship- oriented side of me.” They’re not talking about “getting” something so much as they’re talking about their continual evolution into the beings they wish to become.
Something that really strikes me about the word “become” is that it is at once passive and active. In some ways, life just happens to us; we don’t choose our every circumstance. And in some ways, we must participate. The more intention we put into it, the more we get out of it. In many ways, the challenge of marriage comes down to being: acceptance, remaining still, changing nothing. In other ways the challenge is much more active, to come: to stretch, to practice, to work, to affect change.
So. Fast forward to today. Aba “becomes” a wife and Micah “becomes” a husband; they gain new titles on this day. In many ways this has been gestating since their friendship blossomed many years ago. And in many, many more ways, they will continue to “become.”
If I have one message for Aba and Micah today, it is this: keep becoming.
Some of it will be hard work and some will be contentment and joy. Some of the work and joy will be individual, and some of it will have to be done together. Some of the work and joy will be passive and some will be more active. Some of the work involves acceptance of what is, and some of it involves changing your habits, changing yourselves. But none of it is static. And all of it is, to some degree, temporary. May you see the work that lies in front of you as much as possible, and may you fully celebrate the contentments and joys in between.
We stand before two very, very unique, strong, creative, vibrantly engaged and already-whole individuals. They are not helping each other to be, they are helping each other to become. Where they overlap, parts of their own selves find reflections in the other. They don’t need one another for their existence, which makes the power of their journey not the filling of an empty space, but a journey of growing, adventuring, maturing, and a giving back to the world.
May we all stay awake for our own becoming: individually and in our variety of relationships. May we do the work and celebrate the joy.
And may we support Aba and Micah in their becoming, both individually and together. If you’re here today, you are deeply beloved. If you’re deeply beloved, they will need your reminders and reflections from time to time, as do we all. Aba, Micah: I’d like to invite you to feel for a moment the circle that surrounds you, while we feel our oath of support to you.
The light in me honors the light in each one of us, in Aba, in Micah, and in “Aba y Micah.”