March 23rd, 2003

One Of Harold's Marriages


My friends, we gather together at a beautiful lake on this sunny Fourth of July to celebrate an ancient, solemn and joyful ritual. This is, for Harold and Wanda, a rite of passage by which they signal their entry into a new life.

Marriage, like war and weather, has always provoked commentary, high-minded and otherwise. The tobacco farmer and poet Wendell Berry tells us that it lies well beyond mere careless happiness, "…on the other side of--but never out of reach of--the valley of delight."

An anonymous poet says forming a union of love, like art, is to bring harmony and order out of chaos. Another unknown says love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Joseph Barth pronounces the institution as our last, best chance to grow up. And Victor Hugo says, "The supreme happiness of life is to be loved for yourself. Or, more correctly, in spite of yourself."


Being married on the Fourth of July is an affirmation of the role independence plays in a loving relationship. It is like a dance, in which the partners hold each other but lightly, each moving in his and her own fashion to the music that fills them both.

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