In a candle-lit room, twenty-seven years ago I stood before family and friends to make some promises to Michael. He also made promises to me. We had dreamed about the highs we might experience together, like travelling, being lovers, going to university, getting cool jobs, having kids, making the world a better place.
We were young, really young.
There was no way of knowing or imagining the lows we would face together. I remember Michael and I coming in late for church and sitting in the back row, but when we looked up there was a sign, "Parents with children only, please." We had just had a miscarriage. Michael wept and had to leave the building. I remember fights, loss, disconnection, alienation, and even broken promises.
If we thought of our marriage as a contract, over the years, both of us could have a good argument to get out of the agreement. We have faced those dark moments, and nearly given up. Repeatedly. We have lost any judgmental spirit we ever had against those who do call it quits.
In a darkening sanctuary, lit only by candles and fading evening light, twenty-seven years ago, my Grandfather stood between me and Michael. Grandpa Cecil was a holy man, our elder, but when he joined us together, he was not sealing our bond on his own authority, but he was holding us up to our Creator. He was asking us to enter into a covenant between one another and our higher power.
I've wondered at the expression, "life imitates art" and I'm thinking of that phenomenon as I consider my wedding vows.
Over the last five years, I've been learning about Treaties and I have been convicted over and over by the beauty and potential of that original vision for relationship that was cast so long ago. I have been convicted of the importance of Treaties as I learned the significance of the pipes being raised in prayer, making the Treaties sacred.
In a way, this conviction to the sacredness of Treaty has informed my conviction to the sacredness of my marriage. As I have meditated on the Treaties, I have had to consider the nature of spiritual promises, and this has brought me home to my marriage.
I am thankful for the generosity of many elders who have shared their teachings: the raising of the pipe, the practice of prayer, the example of forgiveness, the place of sacrifice, the lifestyle of humility, the joy of laughter, the possibility of balance, the power of the circle. Now that my own grandparents are gone, I look to these elders and I know this would please my grandparents, all four, as it also pleases my mom and dad, now elders themselves.
I am thankful to you, Michael, my covenant partner, for bringing yourself to me in all stages of our relationship. We're not so young anymore, and that's a good thing. I can see now why the elders laugh so much because life is awkward and even the drama is silly, by times.
I look forward to this next year we spend together. Like we say in Treaty education, Treaty is a living document. Our marriage, too, is a living relationship, that needs care and ongoing negotiation. Perhaps our marriage can imitate some of your artwork, full of bold colour and pleasing design.
This is Florence, Michael's first in a series to commemorate our
2014 trip to Italy, celebrating our 25th Anniversary.
Rome and Venice to follow.
Michael just can't take a good selfie.
And those "highs" I talked about. Here's our top three!
And Victoria's "plus one" makes our top four!
Happy 3rd Anniversary, Tyler and Victoria!