Readings

Selection 1 (Kahil Gibran’s much-loved verse “on Marriage”)

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

 

Selection 2 (By James R. Scher)

Whenever two people begin
To write
Their lives' poem
On a single leaf
Of hammered paper,
The angels sing,
And the ends of the universe,
Bright with stars,
More somehow closer.
So
Their joy together
Eternally
Becomes
God's smile

 

Selection 3 (by Rainer Maria Rilke)

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 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 distance…

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distance exist, a marvelous living side by side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

 

Selection 4:  “The art of a Good Marriage II by Wilferd Arlan Peterson)

Across the years I’ll walk wit you, in deep green forest, on shores of sand, and when our time on earth is through, in heaven too, you will have my hand.

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…

It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.

It is never going to sleep angry.

It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon,
it should continue through all the years.

It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.

It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude
of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.

It is speaking words of appreciation
and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience,
understanding and a sense of humor.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal,
dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.

It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.

 

Selection 5:  Love by Roy Croft

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.

 

Selection 6 (“the Greatest Gift by Katharine Whiteside Taylor)

All things I would give my love,
All things tender, caring, serving, true.
I would enwrap her in my loving arms
And shield her from all stress and pain.
I would enchant him with the vision bright
Of those rare gifts that are his deepest self.
and I would carry her on wings of joy
To all the heights the should of man can know.

 

Selection 7 (from Gift from the Sea, By Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules.

The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s.

To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding.

There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing.

Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back—it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

 

Selection 8 (by Walt Whitman, from “Song of the Open Road”)
I do not offer the old smooth prizes,

but offer rough new prizes.
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve.
However sweet the laid-up stores,
However convenient the dwellings,
You shall not remain there.
However sheltered the port,
And however calm the waters,
You shall not anchor there.
However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you
You are permitted to receive it but a little while.

Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before you,
The long brown path before you, leading wherever you choose.
Say only to one another:
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law:
Will you give me yourself?
Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

 

Selection 9 (Sonnet 116, by William Shakespeare)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
  If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 

Selection 10 (Sonnet 43, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

 

Selection 11 (By Jalal al-din Rumi)

Apart from Love, everything passes away.
The way to heaven is in your heart.
Open and lift the wings of Love!
When Love’s wings are strong, you need no ladder.
Though the world be thorns, a lover’s heart is a bower of roses.
Though heaven’s wheel be mired down, lovers’ lives go forward.
Invite love into each dark corner.
The lover is bright as a hundred thousand candles!
Even if a lover seems to be alone, the secret Beloved is nearby.
The time-span of union is eternity.
The life is a jar, and in it, union is the pure wine.
If we aren’t together, of what use is the jar?
The moment I heard my first love story I began seeking you,
not realizing the search was useless. 
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere;
they are in one another’s souls all along.

 

Selection 12 (author unknown)

What is a friend? I will tell you.

It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself. 

Your soul can be naked with him.

He seems to ask of you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. 

When you are with her you do not have to be on your guard. 

You can say what you think, so long as it is genuinely you. 

She understands those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you. 

With her you breathe freely. 

You can avow your little vanities and and absurdities and, in opening them up to her, they are dissolved on the white ocean of his loyalty. 

He understands. 

You can weep with him, laugh with him, pray with him. 

Through it all - and underneath - he sees, knows, and loves you. 

 

Selection 13 (From a letter by Vincent van Gogh to his brother, Theo)

I want to paint men and women with something of the eternal which the halo used to symbolize…

To express the love of two lovers by a wedding of two complementary colors,

Their mingling and opposition, the mysterious vibration of kindred tones.  To express the thought of a brow by the radiance of a light tone against a somber background.

To express hope by some star, the eagerness of a soul by a sunset radiance.

 

Selection 14 (“somewhere I have never traveled,” by E.E. Cummings)

Somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

any experience, your eyes have their silence:

in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too near

 

your slightest look easily will unclose me

though i have closed myself as fingers,

you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

(touching skillfully, mysteriously)her first rose

 

or if your wish be to close me, i and

my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,

as when the heart of this flower imagines

the snow carefully everywhere descending;

 

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

the power of your intense fragility: whose texture

compels me with the color of its countries,

rendering death and forever with each breathing

 

(i do not know what it is about you that closes

and opens; only something in me understands

the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

 

Selection 15 (from the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery)

In Antoine de Saint Exupery’s classic story, the Little Prince came upon a flower that he believed to be unique – only to discover a field of roses just like his own.  He was disappointed, until his encounter with the fox, who taught him an important lesson. 

The nature of real love. When the prince meets the fox in a field, the fox begs to be tamed. The fox explains that to be tamed means to establish ties, to need one another, to become unique to one another. 

After the prince tames the fox and makes to leave, the fox claims, "You become responsible forever for what you have tamed."

 "The Little Prince" teaches that love is more than a feeling. It makes us accountable for one another.   The story teaches that we must discover the meaning of things for ourselves. We need to learn lessons through experience, not through what we are told.

After the connection with the fox, the Little Prince went back once more to look at the garden of roses, now with new eye.  Here is a passage from the Little Prince.

 

“You are not al all like my rose,” he said.  “As yet you are nothing, No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one.  You are like my fox when I first knew him.  He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world ….

 

“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on.  “One could not die for you.  To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you – the rose that belongs to me.  But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses; because it is she that I have watered … because it is she that I have sheltered … because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing.  Because she is my rose.”

 

And he went back to meet the fox.

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “and now here is my secret, a very simple secret; It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye … It is the time you have devoted to your rose that makes your rose so important … You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.  You are responsible for your rose”

 

Selection 16 (from an unknown author of ancient Egypt)

I breathe the sweet breath which comes forth from Thy mouth.  I behold Thy beauty every day.  It is my desire that I may hear Thy sweet voice, even on the north wind, that my limbs may be rejuvenated with life through love of Thee.  Give me Thy hands, holding Thy spirit, that I may receive it and may live by it.  Call Thou upon my name unto eternity, and it shall never fail.

 

Selection 17 (from “Fidelity,”  by D.H. Lawrence)

Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers

in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.

Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae, [fuh-ram-uh-nif-er-uh]
older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.

And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks,
a man's heart and a woman's,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.

The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.

 

Selection 18 (Adapted form Iphigeneia at Aulis, by Euripides;)(Greek ceremony)

Let me know love within reason, and desire within marriage, and feel your presence …

The natures of humans are various, and human ways of acting are different, but everyone knows what is right, and teaching inclines them at last to virtue

Humility is wisdom, making us see the right way as something beautiful.

And from this beauty honor is born and life earns immortal fame.

It is a great thing, the pursuit of virtue:  at home, it is stillness in their love;

In the world, multiplied ten thousand times among citizens, it makes a city great.

 

Selection 19 (from “Wedding song,” by Naomi Long Madgett)

I cannot swear with any certainty

That I will always feel as I do now,

Loving you with the same fierce ecstasy, 

Needing the same, your lips upon my brow. 

Nor can I promise stars forever bright

Or vow green leaves will never turn to gold.

I cannot see beyond this present night

     To say what promises the dawn may behold. 

      And yet I know my heart must follow you 

      High up to hilltops, low through vales of tears,

     Through golden days and days of somber hue. 

      And love will only deepen with the years 

      Becoming sun and shadow, wind and rain,

     Wine that grows mellow, bread that will sustain.

 

Selection 20 (Sonnet 17, Pablo Neruda)

 I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,

or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off. 

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul 

 

I love you as the plant that never blooms

but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers; 

thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,

risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body. 

 

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.

I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;

so I love you because I know no other way 

 

than this: where I do not exist, nor you,

so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,

so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.  

 

Selection 21 (Love one another)

 Love one another with all your hearts.
Give more than you take.
Don't ever take your relationship for granted.
Have heart to heart talks and really communicate.
Be trusting, playful, intimate and kind.
Appreciate all the little, special things.
Recognize that time spent together is a treasure.
Make the most of what each day brings.
Know that nothing is sweeter than the warmth of one hand within another.
Walk together in the direction you want to go.
Be supportive and sharing and open to change.
Always continue to grow.
Cherish the blessing, which so few truly find.
Have dreams to reach out for through the years.
Share one another's smiles through the good times.
Be everything to one another through the tears.
What your time together lacks in quantity, make up for with quality.
Call to say, "I love You" in the middle of the day.
Keep your sense of humor and hold on to your hopes.
Don't let work or worries get in the way.
Make love a sanctuary and a celebration.
Make each moment more precious and each season gladder.
Realize how lucky you are to be two ... together.
And make the best memories any two people ever had.

 

Selection 22 (“Variations on the Word sleep,” by  Margaret Atwood)

 I would like to watch you sleeping, 

which may not happen.

I would like to watch you, sleeping. 

I would like to sleep with you, 

to enter your sleep as its smooth dark wave

slides over my head. 

and walk with you through that lucent 

wavering forest of blue green leaves 

with its watery sun & three moons 

towards the cave where you must descend, 

towards your worst fear

 

I would like to give you the silver branch, 

the small white flower, the one word 

that will protect you

from the grief at the center

of your dream, from the grief

at the center. I would like to follow 

you up the long stairway

again & become

the boat that would row you back 

carefully, a flame

in two cupped hands

to where your body lies

beside me, and you enter

it as easily as breathing in

 

I would like to be the air

that inhabits you for a moment

only. I would like to be that unnoticed 

& that necessary.

 

Selection 23 ( Every Two Unique )

 "No human relationship gives one possession of another - every two persons are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together, to find what one cannot reach alone.

Learn to see the greatness and the loveliness in one another - and to tell one another of it when you see it. If you accept the sunshine and warmth, you must also accept the thunder and the lightning.

Among intelligent people the surest basis for marriage is friendship - the sharing of real interests - the ability to work out ideas together and understand each other's thoughts and dreams."

 

Selection 24 (Taking Into Your Care)

You are now taking into your care and keeping the happiness of the one person in all the world whom you love best. You are adding to your life not only the affection of each other, but also the companionship and blessing of a deep trust as well. You are agreeing to share strength, responsibilities and to share love.

 

Selection 25 (Friendship, by Judy Bielicki)

It is often said that it is love that makes the world go round. However, without doubt, it is friendship that keeps our spinning existence on an even keel. True friendship provides so many of the essentials for a happy life - it is the strong foundation on which to build an enduring relationship, it is the mortar which bonds us together in harmony, and it is the calm, warm protection we sometimes need when the world outside seems cold and chaotic. True friendship holds a mirror to our foibles and failings, without destroying our sense of worthiness. True friendship nurtures our hopes, supports us in our disappointments, and encourages us to grow to our best potential. Name and Name come together as friends. Today, they pledge to each other not only their love, but also the strength, warmth and, most importantly, the fun of true friendship. 

 

Selection 26 (Through the Years)

Through the years we have learned
A lot about each other,
And we have grown together.

We have learned about forgiveness;
It takes two understanding people
To accept one another's faults
And still find it in their hearts
To forgive each other
And forget old arguments

We have learned about friendship;
Friends stick together,
they're always truthful to each other,
And they always comfort one another
In times of turmoil.

Most of all, we have learned about love.
It is something that takes time,
And after all our time together,
Our love has never been stronger.  

 

Selection 27 (Blessing of the Apaches)

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.  May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.    

 

Selection 28 (Treat Yourselves With Respect)

Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship - as they threaten all relationships at one time or another - remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives - remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.  

Selection 29 (Blessing for a Marriage by James Dillet Freeman)

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance and understanding.

May you always need one another - not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you know your fullness.

A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less, but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you.

May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another.
May you succeed in all-important ways with one another,
and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love You!", and take no notice of small faults.

May you enter into the mystery, which is the awareness of one another's presence - no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side-by-side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.

May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.

May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

 

Selection 30 (The Art of a Good Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson)

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created.

In the Art of Marriage: The little things are the big things. It is never being too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say ’I love you’ at least once a day. It is never going to sleep angry.  It is at no time taking the other for granted; the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through all the years. It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world.

It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is not expecting the husband to wear a halo or the wife to have wings of an angel. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is finding room for the things of the spirit. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.