Weddings and Such

In the last several years, I’ve attended three wedding and one civil union. Nothing dull about any of them.

The first in this series was the wedding of my niece, Kelly, to Matt, who live in Las Vegas. Kelly had been attending law school and was graduating three years ago in May. Her family (parents and most of her ten brothers and sisters) flew out for the event, and I went up too.

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Her attitude was that since we were all going to be there, she and Matt might as well get married that same weekend.

So there was a graduation on Thursday followed by a wedding on Friday. And it was not your typical wedding.

Kelly, who is Korean, wore a fabulous pink strapless dress, knee-length, and Matt, who is anglo, wore nice pants and a coat. They were married under the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. By an Elvis impersonator.

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Next on the wedding agenda was the marriage of my friend Lupita to the man she’d been living with for nearly twenty years. The priest in Naco, Sonora, Mexico, was on a mission to get all those who were “living in sin” to get married, and he succeeded quite well. Seventeen couples married in one mass ceremony. It turned out I knew one of the other brides, too.

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Then, of course, was the civil union ceremony of my friend Mark to his partner Hywel. It was the first public civil union ceremony (that I know of) in Bisbee, shortly after the city legalized civil unions this spring.

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Now the most recent – the wedding of my niece Rachel to her partner Amer. Rachel is half African-American and half Korean and has the most beautiful skin tone, hair, eyes, and well, everything. Amer is Bosnian and quite pale in comparison to Rachel. A lovely match.

My brother-in-law with Rachel

My brother-in-law with Rachel

They were married outdoors in a garden setting just last Saturday. Because Rachel’s brothers and sisters are all adopted, as is she, and are of many ethnicities, it was a most colorful wedding. Probably one of the very best I have ever attended.

Amer sees his bride.

Amer sees his bride.

The female attendants.

The female attendants.

And the males.

And the males.

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Rachel was beautiful, as brides always are, but she was a true beauty. The wedding, followed by music, dance, food, and champagne made for a perfect evening.

The wedding party dances first.

The wedding party dances first.


I was invited to stand with the group of single women to catch the bouquet, but when I swore I stomp on it if it hit me, I was quickly disinvited.
After these last four weddings, I can only wonder what the next one will be!

Finding Spirit

According to William Powers, in his book “12 By 12,” kids today can identify around a thousand corporate logos, but most can’t identify ten native plants and animals in their area.

Whew.

The number of logos they can identify seemed high to me. A thousand! My initial reaction was, “There aren’t that many!”

But of course there are. And many more.

I wonder how many I could identify. Too many, most likely. But thankfully I can identify many, many native plants and animals.

Today, most kids can’t identify native plants and animals. They spend way too much of their time inside. Sleeping, eating, and TV. Computers and video games. School. Church if they do that.

Long ago, I don’t even remember when, I realized that the desert was my church. When I need to get close to whatever Spirit it is that I connect with, I go outside. I can find Her inside, too, but I believe Spirit lives outside.

One of the earliest deeply spiritual moments in my life was in 1977. I was standing at the rim of Canyon de Chelley in northern Arizona, and suddenly I was filled with, well, whatever it is.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever been to church. I had been raised attending church, celebrating Christmas and Easter. I’d attended summer church events and church camp. But what I liked most about church camp and summer events was being out of doors. That is where I found peace, where I found myself, and where I found the earliest stirrings of Spirit.

Then, that summer at Canyon de Chelley, I can’t even express what happened. I just felt deeply that there was a living Spirit in me. It emanated from the Earth and had nothing to do with the God I’d heard of my whole life. It stirred something in me, and that stirring has never gone away.

More recently, I had the experience of leaning out of a little boat, a panga, on a lagoon in central Baja California to stroke the back of a gray whale. Spirit was there again.

In fact, I felt it as soon as I saw my first whale breaching. I knew it was pure Goodness, pure Godliness, pure Spirit. Touching that whale, looking into her huge eye, moved me in a way nothing else ever has.

I met Spirit in Guatemala on a boat while crossing Lago Atitlan, and met Her again when hang gliding, jumping off a 7000 foot cliff in southern Arizona to circle with hawks.

Of course, it doesn’t take a whale or a hang glide to experience Spirit. She was there today as I sat on a sand bar and looked at the sea. In December, Spirit glimmered in the face of a dead sea turtle. The other day She was in a saguaro blossom.

All of my encounters with Spirit have been outside. It’s not that She won’t come inside. Of course She will. But Her home is in nature.

So. What are we letting happen to our children? When we confine them all day in classrooms, cut funds for field trips, and cut back recess time so kids can do better on mandatory testing, what are we doing to their psyches? To their spirits? How are we interfering with their spiritual development?

I believe in the separation of church and state. But Spirit is not church. She just IS. And She is earth, sea, and sky. She is nature. She is not in a corporate logo.

This is not something I can prove. I have no evidence. I have only the edge of a canyon, a dead sea turtle, and the eye of a whale to tell me it is true.

Whale mama and her baby, Guerro Nego, Baja California Sur.

Whale mama and her baby, Guerro Nego, Baja California Sur.