Two years ago today, Abbi and I received many thoughtful wedding gifts, not the least of which being the presence of so many family and friends who trekked all the way to South Carolina’s Low Country where Blackberry service is scarce, and the mosquitoes are as big as hummingbirds.
Ours had been a fairly drama-free courtship, one marked by long runs and quiet nights. Sure, we disagreed on some stuff from time to time. And we had wild night, making out on the jam-packed dance floor at Automatic Slims. In general, though, the beauty of our courtship was how naturally it evolved. It just was. We just were.
Of course, marriage isn’t all sunshine, lollipops and roses. I witnessed plenty of discord (and, to be fair, some harmony) growing up. So it was hugely prescient and remarkably meaningful when our officiant, author and mystic Bo Lozoff, began to speak in the section of our ceremony we called his “freestyle” (Christians, I suppose, would call it a “Homily”).
My brother, Christofer, and I met Bo just a few years prior. Mister Rogers had introduced us indirectly; the day that he and I met in Nantucket, he mentioned that his friend Bo was beginning a year-long vow of silence. He told me about Bo’s book, “Deep & Simple.” So when we set out to make “Mister Rogers & Me,” Bo was one of our first stops.
Bo treated Chris and I like we were the only two people on Earth, dispensing hours of wisdom pulling from every major Good Book in the hours upon hours we wandered his 75-acre ashram. One of the poets he quoted was the 14th Century Sufi poet, Hafez. A little over two years later, there beneath a mighty Spanish Oak tree on the banks of the Pocotaligo River, he recited Hafez again.
“Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,” he said, “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.
It has been a terrific first two years of marriage, hands down the best two years of my life. I am the luckiest s.o.b. on the planet to have a woman so strong, beautiful, thoughtful and fun tap me on the shoulder and introduce herself.
Still, as time has passed, and as Abbi and I reflect here in the crisp morning light, it is so apparent to me that Bo has given us perhaps the most valuable, thoughtful gift of all: the permission to be imperfect, to flail about uncertainly and understand that, through the challenges and suffering, there will be great favor.
On our bookshelf, right next to a photo of sealing our hand-written vows with a kiss, is a collection of Hafiz poems called simply, “The Gift.” In the front of the book Bo inscribed, “May this ancient, ever timely poetry help to remind you to live love, laugh and care deeply, as is your true nature.”