Shaking All The Nonsense Out

Abbi & Me It took some convincing to get noted author, activist, singer/songwriter and mystic Bo Lozoff to preside over Abbigail and my wedding ceremony.

In addition to his 200+ days on the road speaking in prisons, schools and churches on behalf of his Human Kindness Organizations’ Prison-Ashram Project, Bo co-manages the affairs of his organization with his wife, corresponds with hundreds of prisoners and scholars alike, publishes a monthly newsletter, writes songs and releases records, and somehow finds the time to meditate twice daily and otherwise be one of the wisest, deepest, most spiritual people I know.

Worse, the weekend of our wedding was to be just days after he wrapped a particularly grueling leg of his tour, and a few days prior to moving off of his 75-acre communal farm in Durham, North Carolina.

But Bo was reticent for another reason.

“Are you sure you want me to preside?” he asked.

Bo explained how his spiritual seeking and months on the road had him feeling rootless, child-like, and unpredictable.

“I’m not sure anymore what I’m going to say next.”

Not surprisingly, Bo knew precisely what to say, and presided over our ceremony with grace, patience, substance and even levity. When it came time for the section Abbi and I left blank for him (the program identified it simply as “On Marriage,” but, being a musician, I thought of it as the bridge), he reciting from memory verse from the 14th Century Persian poet, Hafez:

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room by your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.

We’e all poets at weddings (and on Valentine’s Day). There is a place for poetry there. But in choosing to share Fahez with all of us, Bo tempered our idealized, golden-hour, white-chiffon fantasies with reasoned, practical wisdom.

Love is more than flowers, chocolates, and platitudes.

Love is work.

It was one of the most meaningful wedding gifts Abbi and I received.

What’s more, it was the most romantic.

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