April and Jesse’s wedding at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture was original, touching, funny and stylish.

Careful with the license! Please note the fabulous green couch and golden pillows of the tasteful, upstairs library. Signing the license is emotional for many, and also anxiety producing because the City Clerk won’t accept a license with cross-outs, white-out or any such thing. Jesse and April and their wonderful witnesses did a masterful job.

Boldly they go down the stairs together to say forever and I do. Soon, everything will be different. In the best possible way.

Under the tree, talking about love, marriage, April and Jesse

With this ring…

Who says you can’t laugh at a wedding?

Invoking the Divine Presence for sure

On September 5, April and Jesse declared their love before family and friends in one of the most dignified places in Brooklyn: the Society for Ethical Culture (Prospect Park West at Second Street). Its character matched the couple completely. Solid, unpretentious, earthy and dignified. It’s one of these Brooklyn buildings that resonate with history and wisdom – just like this couple. The ceremony was framed in a cosmology of an imminent Divine Presence – love is among us humans, here, now. It reflected the couple’s strengths and mutual admiration. Their friends and family catered the event with wonderful barbecue (including salmon and seitan), potato salad, cole slaw, greens, and jars and jars of excellent pickles that the couple made when the bride’s mother, herself a wedding officiant, came to New York to meet the groom.

April looked stunning in her purple dress and Jesse looked snappy in his dark suit. Sweden was well represented, and I had the pleasure of connecting with a shy research data designer, a nonprofit bookstore manager and his girlfriend, an aspiring NYC public school teacher, among others.

We signed the marriage license upstairs in the delightfully air conditioned library and had the ceremony under a tree outside. Everybody who could, stood. I left before the cake was cut, but it was a a thing of beauty, decorated with actual yellow and orange blossoms.

On my way home from swimming at the Prospect Park Y on Sunday morning, I stopped to buy some pickles from Dr. Pickle at his stall at the little Fifth Avenue farmers market. Although slightly embarrassed to be seen dressed in cutoff shorts, a t-shirt with a bullseye, baseball hat and sunglasses instead of my black ministerial getup, I was thrilled to run into April, Jesse and some of their house guests.

I wish this couple all the happiness they can stand – and more.

bow bridge, central park

bow bridge, central park

If you are in love with Manhattan, think about saying “I do” on the Bow Bridge in Central Park.

That’s what Ange and Jez, a beautiful couple dressed in all white, did on 8-8-08.

They hired a saxophone player to play things.  All kinds of people were milling about: a guy on skates wearing mala beads and wielding a hockey stick; kids, tourists with pretty shopping bags and friendly joggers.



I feared a bridal rumble when I saw another wedding party headed for the bridge, but the would-be challengers took a left turn and kept walking.  I attribute this to the fact that I was reading a book about happiness by Sylvia Boorstein.  Clearly, the peace of my presence calmed the situation preemptively.

delightful couple in white

ange & jez: delightful couple in white

In the midst of the simple, elegant wedding ceremony a Venetian style gondola singer sang arias from the water below.   The groom wore white Vans sneakers, perfect attire for the Bow Bridge.  When the bride threw her beautiful all-white bouquet over her shoulder, the potential catchers dispersed as though she were throwing dirt or clay or something bad.  It seems  marriage is not on the near term to-do lists of their friends.  However, my couple clearly adore each other.  Strangers applauded and cheered after the pronouncement and kiss.

with this ring, i thee wed

with this ring, i thee wed

I always say this after a wedding ceremony: everybody should have the experience of marrying people who are deeply in love.  It is an incredible, giddy window into our highest selves and the full body knowing that people were made to love each other.

NOTE: It’s a good idea to secure a permit to avoid wedding competition.

See the bridge covered in snow.

Where: Mid-Park at 74th St., west of Bethesda Terrace connecting Cherry Hill and the Ramble. Take the C or E train to 72nd St. and enter the park there. Many friendly trishaw drivers are available to direct you.

Mixing science and religion.  It can be done! Here you see a Shabbat still life.  Somebody’s great aunt’s candlestick holders covered in wax not because of laziness, but because I love how it looks. There is something striking about it.  Spilled wax, like other “mistakes” are marks of life. Imperfect, messy, jarring. Life lived in the moment.  The old wax somehow affirms that we were here to light last week, and we hope to be here to light again this week. Each week’s wax installation blends with the previous and adds up into the future, kind of like time.  It’s a life sculpture that is always shifting.

My mother would prefer to use a wax guard, a bulky little cap thing that catches the wax before it can fall and dry.  I’d rather not.  It’s like the candlestick version of slipcovers. I’d rather not sit in there if I have to feel plastic beneath me instead of the cloth, leather or velvet of the couch.

Notice the glass potassium bottle.  The bottle comes from my father’s old  laboratory in an old wing of Brooklyn College.  This is a man who always disliked religion and preferred the certainty of science.  Time has softened him, just like the yellow rose humanizes the bottle.   Since attending One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, I have noticed an increased ability to hold two seemingly contrary preferences, thoughts, ideas, feelings or beliefs at the same time.  A beloved teacher there told me that our inclination, when faced with things that seem to oppose each other, is to force a choice; a better way is to make more space to allow both things.  By allowing both things, the idea of “choice” somehow shifts. I like it when I can remember to make more space instead of constricting, clamping down and trying to capture one “correct” answer.

A glass potassium bottle, intended for scientific purposes, has become a part of a weekly reenactment of the birth of creation.  I don’t see any opposition in that. Do you?