How can I put this?
March 18, 2009 4:47 AM   Subscribe

Help me pick out an appropriate reading for my upcoming wedding, something expressing the wish that the love we feel for each other might also serve as a a foundation for a more universal compassion.

Neither of us are particularly religious, although I was raised as a Unitarian Universalist and am presently enamored with Buddhism. A UU minister will be performing the ceremony.

I'm looking for something that will take the place of the standard "Let us pray," portion of the ceremony after the vows have been taken. The sentiment I'd like to express is that love and compassion are humankind's highest capabilities, and the wish that we the love that continues to grow between us might be used as a foundation for a more universal compassion, and might serve to foster the same in others.

I typed that really quickly, in part because it's not fixed in my mind yet and in part because I have to get dressed for work now! But this can be anything--a poem, a prayer, a couple of paragraphs from an essay, whatever. Thanks in advance!
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas to Religion & Philosophy (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
i'm not sure whether you have read much rumi, but his poems are pretty great and lots of them have those themes as their basis. i'm thinking particularly of the one that starts "there's a field out beyond right and wrong, i'll meet you there" or something like that
posted by fancyoats at 6:27 AM on March 18, 2009

not the one i was thinking of but here is one by rumi:

This Marriage

May these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.
posted by fancyoats at 6:33 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

not the one i was thinking of but here is one by rumi:

That's exactly what we used at our wedding, in the same place and for the same purpose.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:45 AM on March 18, 2009

...also, in the Rumi vein, Hafiz. Daniel Ladinsky's modern translations are often hilarious, and I couldn't personally ever consider expressing this sentiment in a wedding ceremony in a way that didn't involve laughter. Not because I don't believe the sentiment, but because I do...
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:59 AM on March 18, 2009

“Strange is our situation here upon Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. However, there is one thing that we do know, that we are here for the sake of others. Above all, for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.”

--Albert Einstein
posted by chrisamiller at 7:33 AM on March 18, 2009 [3 favorites]

I read Nouwen's Our Greatest Gift a few weeks ago, and loved this particular passage. It may not be what your looking for; it's not marriage-specific, but it is, to me, a beautiful description of the impact of committed love:

"I have always been impressed with the thought that people are only ready to commit themselves to each other when they no longer focus on each other but rather focus together on the larger world beyond themselves. Falling in love makes us look at each other with admiration and tenderness. Committing ourselves to one another in love makes us look together toward those who need our care: the child, the stranger, the poor, the dying."
--Henri Nouwen
posted by bluestocking at 8:42 AM on March 18, 2009

how about "Desiderata"
posted by Flood at 12:14 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

A bit tangential and abstract, but we used this, by e. e. cummings:

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skilfully curled)
all worlds
posted by wintersweet at 6:46 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Not a specific reading, but you might try hunting through the "write your own vows" books at the bookstore - we got some lovely readings from them. Also, looking through the readings section at the back of Singing the Living Tradition (UU hymnal) might turn up something.
posted by booksherpa at 7:43 PM on March 23, 2009

Response by poster: Followup: thanks for everyone's answers, but none of them really fit the bill. That's okay, I had two ministers and myself searching and couldn't come up with anything. So in a fit of amused frustration at 3:00am one morning, I wrote my own. Email me (in profile) if you'd like to read what I came up with. It worked out well.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 6:02 AM on April 18, 2009

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