Fourteen years ago Graham and I got married in a small chapel in Carmel, California. I wore an ivory wedding dress with a huge skirt and a cheerful striped pattern. We were married by Graham's dad in a very personal ceremony that included Rumi, a Declaration of Intent we wrote ourselves, and traditional vows that connected us to generations of happy marriages that came before ours.
I loved that ceremony and that gathering of family and friends in a way that I had never loved anything before. On that day I loved Graham in a huge way and that was obviously a big part of the day. And there was something else too.
I showed up for my wedding more complete than I had ever showed up for anything before, more myself than I had ever been before. For years leading up to that event, my spirit had been cloaked under cover, my irrepressible instinct to pray was a shameful secret, all those bible verses that I had memorized and loved as a child, an embarrassment. But at my wedding, all of that was allowed, all those pieces of me had a place and a role to play for the first time in so, so long.
And my life changed. I knew that my life's work was going to have to have something to do with that part of me that is like a moth to the flame of the heart, that loves language and the way humans use it to courage up hope or strength or understanding, that seeks traditions of all kinds carry us along, sending wisdom through time to each new generation. And yet, I was not a religious person. A traditional experience of Christianity had not held up under the rigor of an intellectual education--and this muddied the waters quite a bit. I was a spiritual person who was not religious. I had no idea how to turn my beliefs into a useful contribution or whether anyone would be along for the ride if I did. Committing to this part of myself felt like agreeing to walk alone in the woods for a long, long time. There was so much unknown then.
The one thing I knew was that the wedding had made sense to me. Weddings seemed like a place where my perspective might be useful. So I started to write a book about weddings. I was 28, pretty clueless, and not ready to write yet. When I look back at those pages, I can feel how hard I was trying, how much I was wanting to be helpful to others, when I needed so much shoring up myself. I was never able to complete the project, but not because I didn't care or think the work was worth it, I just didn't have enough experience or strength to see it through at that time.
But now I do.
Over the last two weeks I have been hard at work revising a new version of that original project. I'm calling it, "How to Write Your Own Ceremony: The Super Short Guide." I'm two writing sessions away from having a complete version. I've commissioned a cover, and hope to have it up on Amazon by sometime in December. For this to be an official leap, I need feedback from couples who are planning to get married. If you or anyone you know is is planning a wedding, I would love the opportunity to share this project.
But even if that never happens. Even if this project never sells one copy, completing it will have been worth it to me. It is something I have had to do for myself, for the young writer who lives inside me, who was not able to finish back then, who ended up curled up crying under a desk, lonely and frustrated. Honey, we're almost there, I tell her.