Epithalamion for Jim & Sarah
Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.
- John Muir
Spoiler alert: we are here. We are humid. We are sweating
beautifully underneath tuxedos, dresses, hiking boots having
trudged along on a journey today. But before I complain
about a stroll through the High Sierra, where young Jim
grew & explored & discovered and maybe dreamt of another,
let’s think about a longer journey. The voyage of these two
vessels crossing a great ocean of time and distance.
In April, five years came to pass between them.
Five years of a continent standing with its arms holding Jim &
Sarah’s bodies apart, but only their bodies and not their spirit.
They danced, they held hands, they sang & played and grew,
they strolled through the woods on either end of a telephone,
an instant messenger. Their bodies on either side of these
mountains which cover and surround us now,
their love together somewhere else entirely.
If we only spoke in platitudes, the years and miles between you
would have sounded like an irritating song: I miss you, I’ll see
you soon, I wish you were here, someday, someday, I love
you, love someday, some possibility, some hope, I miss you.
You flirted in the language of fighting. When you met to spar
did you realize you would fight not side by side,
but to be side by side? Did you know he would kiss you
after a successfully landed jab in a basement in a house in a
place so long ago it is now painted a different color? Do you
see what your endurance was able to endure? Here we are
in this ancient and enduring place, of which was said:
that between two pines there is a door leading to a new way of life.
I’ll spare you the nonsense about fate, about destiny
about being connected. Where do we find knowing? How can we point our fingers at
something and say “I recognize you. I know who you are.”
“I know what your soul is made of.”
When we try to pick out anything by itself, it stands alone. It is a man
on a mountain sending love letters through the clouds which have collected
to crown off a snow-capped top, to isolate a road, leading to a house
underneath redwoods and pine and manzanita.
We translate what we do not
speak. We say, “because you are so far away I have decided to live differently.”
“I have decided I will carry this sorrow like a seed inside me.” “You be the soil.”
“You be the wild. I will grow inside you.” Seasons come to pass. Years,
literally years go by. Years go by and you notice a person has changed
in so many ways. You recognize each new path worn into them. You see
where lightening has sharpened the stone of their conviction. Where erosion
hasn’t touched their commitment to you. Lakes rise and fall like breath,
rivers flow fruitfully like the breath shared, condensed clouds of it dancing,
between a whispered “hello. I have decided to come and be with you.”
You wore his ring around your neck and around his neck he wore your
ribbon. When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched
to everything else in the Universe. Within the great well that is everyone
and everything, we somehow have found pairs of things. Here is a newly
There will be feelings you recognize: the love that caused you to be shy,
the love that caused you to be bold, to blush, to fall fast or to stand tall.
The scenery you recognize: the forest, the trees, Yosemite: a place
where you once lived apart and once lived together. Regard the pine trees
around us, redwood, manzanita, you recognize these as well as you do
each other. You are taking first steps on common ground. Yes, we hear you
say. To yourselves. To each other. Try your new words:, “husband,” “wife,”
as you walk through the door between the pine trees, through that door
may you walk together, now and always, into your new way of life.