We decided with our rabbi that instead of reading the translation of the traditional seven Hebrew blessings (“You are blessed, Lord, who makes Zion rejoice with her children.”), we would choose readings that expressed the themes of the wedding ceremony to us. Here are the texts of those readings:
from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Read by Luke
For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person-it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances.
from Poetry and Marriage by Wendell Berry
Read by Warner
What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be. where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you—and marriage, time, life, history, and the world—will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way. You have committed yourself with the faith that by staying, and only by staying, we will learn something of the truth, that the truth is good to know, and that it is always both different and larger than we thought.
from The Huppah by Marge Piercy
Read by Julie
We have made a home together
open to the weather of our time.
The canopy is the cloth of our table
where we share fruit and vegetables
of our labor, where our care for the earth
comes back and we take its body in ours.
[It is] like a table on which we set our love
as a feast, like a tent
under which we work
not safe but no longer solitary
in the searing heat of our time.
from Sex, Economy, Freedom, and Community by Wendell Berry
Read by Amanda
Lovers must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things. They say their vows to the community as much as to one another, and the community gathers around them to hear and to wish them well, on their behalf and its own. It gathers around them because it understands how necessary, how joyful, and how fearful this joining is. These lovers, pledging themselves to one another “until death,” are giving themselves away, and they are joined by this as no law or contract could join them.
To Dorothy by Marvin Bell
Read by me
You are not beautiful, exactly.
You are beautiful, inexactly.
You let a weed grow by the mulberry
And a mulberry grow by the house.
So close, in the personal quiet
Of a windy night, it brushes the wall
And sweeps away the day till we sleep.
A child said it, and it seemed true:
“Things that are lost are all equal.”
But it isn’t true. If I lost you,
The air wouldn’t move, nor the tree grow.
Someone would pull the weed, my flower.
The quiet wouldn’t be yours. If I lost you,
I’d have to ask the grass to let me sleep.
from The Country of Marriage by Wendell Berry
Read by Sandy
Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don’t know what its limits are—that puts us in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always leading me back.