Here are some secular wedding readings that may be of interest as you plan an unconventional or non-religious wedding. As we customize your ceremony, choose any readings that speak to you and we’ll work them in.

Updated 9-29-2016

True Love (1997) ― Robert Fulghum:

We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.

“Advice From a Friend” from Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness by Tony Kushner

1.
Trust each other, completely, entirely, trust like an animal, trust even more than that, raze every barricade, every obstacle to trust. Be relentless, leave no stone unturned, trust each other. Know with absolute deathless certainty that your lover wishes nothing but that all is well with you. Do you know that? Do you know that your love is more trustworthy than even you yourself are? If not, work harder, know it, this is important, not even your mother can be trusted half as much. That’s one thing.
2.
Be understanding. Be more than that. Merge entirely your being with your lover’s life. Have the same dreams at night. And yet, keep a healthy distance always; no one likes feeling crowded.
3.
Your lover complains, or is sad. Listen attentively to each ululation, to each keening note of your lover’s lament. What matter if you’ve heard it all before, only last week, only last night even, and you’re bored? Listen as though your lover had sat down and delivered a spontaneous exegesis on Grief worthy of Montaigne of Browne or Emerson. Find different kinds of listening expressions, too, be inventive, and be careful that the look you imagine expressive of rapt attentiveness isn’t becoming a glazed fixed stare.
4.
Listen, trust, accommodate, placate, soothe. Be available, enthusiastic, supportive, generous, surprising, sexy, mysterious, challenging. Be a teacher, a pupil, a nurse, a good patient. A child a parent analysand and analyst both, be a true mirror and a flattering portrait both, be an adorable house pet, household god, father-confessor, mother-intercessor, your lover’s favorite relative, favorite movie stare, favorite food, share everything, hide nothing, (but remember mysterious and sexy, see ABOVE), see everything, overlook faults, speak frankly but encouragingly always and, if this proves difficult or
5.
impossible
6.
throw plates, smash furniture, shout abuse. Disturb the neighbors, poison the fishbowls, drown the plants, destroy each other’s diaries after reading them and scissor each other’s socks, celebrate with barbaric obstreperousness, with bonfires and war cries and cannibal stares the indestructible cast iron certainty of what we fuse in the name of that wild endeavor, that ecstatic bellicose enterprise,
love.

“Vows” from Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness by Tony Kushner

Conjunction, assemblage, congress, union:
Life isn’t meant to be lived alone.
A life apart is a desperate fiction.
Life is an intermediate business:
a field of light bordered by love
a sea of desire stretched between shores.

Marriage is the strength of union.
Marriage is the harmonic blend.
Marriage is the elegant dialectic of counterpoint.
Marriage is the faultless, fragile logic of ecology:
A reasonable process of give and take
unfolding through cyclical and linear time.

A wedding is the conjoining of systems in which
Neither loses its single splendor and both are completely
transformed. As, for example,
The dawn is the wedding of the Night and the Day,
and is neither, and both,
and is, in itself, the most beautiful time,
abundant artless beauty,
free and careless magnificence.

An excerpt from “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.

Epithalamium, by Adam Zagajewski

Without silence there would be no music.
Life paired is doubtless more difficult
than solitary existence –
just as a boat on the open sea
with outstretched sails is trickier to steer
than the same boat drowsing at a dock, but schooners
after all are meant for wind and motion,
not idleness and impassive quiet.

A conversation continued through the years includes
hours of anxiety, anger, even hatred,
but also compassion, deep feeling.
Only in marriage do love and time,
eternal enemies, join forces.
Only love and time, when reconciled,
permit us to see other beings
in their enigmatic, complex essence,
unfolding slowly and certainly, like a new settlement
in a valley, or among green hills.

It begins from one day only, from joy
and pledges, from the holy day of meeting,
which is like a moist grain;
then come the years of trial and labor,
sometimes despair, fierce revelation,
happiness and finally a great tree
with rich greenery grows over us,
casting its vast shadow. Cares vanish in it.

The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones – Neil Gaiman

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life … You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you.

This for you – Neil Gaiman

This for you, for both of you,

a small poem of happiness
filled with small glories and little triumphs
a fragile, short cheerful song
filled with hope and all sorts of futures

Because at weddings we imagine the future
Because it’s all about “what happened next?”
all the work and negotiation and building and talk
that makes even the tiniest happily ever after
something to be proud of for a wee forever

This is a small thought for both of you
like a feather or a prayer,
a wish of trust and love and hope
and fine brave hearts and true.

Like a tower, or a house made all of bones and dreams
and tomorrows and tomorrows and tomorrows

Quote by Albert Einstein

Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.

This Lullaby – Sarah Dessen

“No relationship is perfect, ever. There are always some ways you have to bend, to compromise, to give something up in order to gain something greater … The love we have for each other is bigger than these small differences. And that’s the key. It’s like a big pie chart, and the love in a relationship has to be the biggest piece. Love can make up for a lot.”

The Truth About Forever – Sarah Dessen

There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.

Wild Awake – Hilary T. Smith

People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.

The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, by Fred Rogers

This advice comes from one our most beloved childhood heroes, who triumphed in being a force for good in this world, Fred Rogers, from “The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember”:

“We need to help people to discover the true meaning of love. Love is generally confused with dependence. Those of us who have grown in true love know that we can love only in proportion to our capacity for independence.”

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

And this heartfelt song from Mister Rogers Neighborhood:

It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear.
It’s not the way you do your hair,
But it’s you I like.
The way you are right now
The way down deep inside you
Not the things that hide you
Not your diplomas…
They’re just beside you.
But it’s you I like,
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings,
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue,
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself, it’s you
It’s you I like!

Fred Rogers also said: “When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”

“Mutual caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other’s achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, Majority Opinion in the United States Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges, June 26, 2015

An excerpt from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015, which recognized that not only is marriage hugely important to society, but that it is a constitutional right for all Americans:

“From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union … always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life. … Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.
“The centrality of marriage to the human condition makes it unsurprising that the institution has existed for millennia and across civilizations. Since the dawn of history, marriage has transformed strangers into relatives, binding families and societies together. Confucius taught that marriage lies at the foundation of government. This wisdom was echoed centuries later and half a world away by Cicero, who wrote, ‘The first bond of society is marriage; next, children; and then the family.”
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. … [M]arriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.”

Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, Mass. Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall

The following is quoted from the 2003 ruling that made Massachusetts the first state to recognize same-sex marriages:

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations….Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.” … Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a civil right.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss (Abridged Version)

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re TOGETHER. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the COUPLE who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KIDS, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Nothing is easier – author unknown

Nothing is easier than saying words, and nothing harder than living them day by day. What you promise today must be renewed and re-decided tomorrow. At the end of this ceremony, legally you will be husband and wife, but you must still decide, each day that stretches out before you, that you want to be married. Real love is something beyond the warmth and glow, the excitement and romance of being deeply in love. It is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your marriage partner as about your own. But real love is not total absorption in each other; it is looking outward in the same directions — together. Love makes burdens lighter; because you divide them. It make joys more intense because you share them. Love makes you stronger, so you can reach out and become involved with life in ways you dared not risk alone.

Your love is as the sea  – author unknown

Your love is as the sea, constant and ever-changing… Your love is as the wind, rapturous and all encompassing. Your love is as the earth, solid and firm…Your love is as a flame, illuminating your lives and warming your hearts.

Yet your love extends beyond the sea, wind, earth and flame; it is greater than who you are and meaningless without you; it is more powerful than your past yet the foundation for your future. It has brought you here today to become one in the eyes of your family and friends, for all the days to come. Your love is the essence of your lives.

Quote about love – Bob Marley

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. …

You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

Sonnet XVII, 100 Love Sonnets ― Pablo Neruda

In the compilation 100 Love Sonnets, poet Pablo Neruda wrote:

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this,
in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.

Ahora, en español, Soneto Diecisiete por Pablo Neruda:

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente, sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,
sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.

Gracias por estar aquí para celebrar el matrimonio de NAME y NAME.

Stranger in a Strange Land ― Robert A. Heinlein

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage ― Elizabeth Gilbert

“Marriage is what happens “between the memorable.” … we often look back on our marriages years later, and all we can recall are “the vacations, and emergencies” – the high points and low points. The rest of it blends into a blurry sort of daily sameness. But it is that very blurred sameness, that comprises marriage. Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody- so utterly well known and so thoroughly ever-present, that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air?”

“The act of quiet nighttime talking, illustrates for me more than anything else the curious alchemy of companionship.”

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”

Corelli’s Mandolin (p.281) ― Louis de Bernières:

Being in love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just “being in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow toward each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Letter to Olivia Langdon, 8 September 1869 – Mark Twain:

This will be the mightiest day in the history of our lives, and the most generous toward us both — for it makes of two fractional lives a whole; it gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each whereby to perform it; it gives to two questioning natures a reason for living, and something to live for; it will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life; and it will give a new revelation to love, a new depth to sorrow, a new impulse to worship. In this day the scales will fall from our eyes and we shall look upon a new world.

Notebook, 1894 – Mark Twain:

Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.

 

Letters to a Young Poet – by Rainer Maria Rilke (a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist in the late 19th/early 20th century)

“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”

The Bridge Across Forever — By Richard Bach:

A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.

The Gift from the Sea — by Anne Morrow Lindbergh:

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

From The Irrational Season — by Madeleine L’Engle:

Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.

To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling. [and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.]

Love Is Friendship Caught Fire — by Laura Hendricks:

Love is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past. It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.

Marriage Joins Two People – by Edmund O’Neill:

Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime.

Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.

Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.

Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life.

When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves which binds them closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.

What is This Love — by Betty Pingel:

You ask what is this love we here affirm, and I answer, it is a covenant you make, one with the other, a covenant born of commitment to each other’s well being and growth and commitment to your relationship itself, allowing it the possibility of change and of growth. And so the covenant reads:

Take time for each other and act always from a caring position. Allow each other time alone for renewal and creativity. Be as honest as possible about feelings as well as actions. Share household and routine tasks with role reversal as a reality. Listen to each other with intent beyond the words. Allow other relationships and commitments in your lives. And make room in your covenant for the children of your love and when the time comes to let them go, do so with joy and caring; then come your primary relationship with fresh commitments to new beginnings.

The Art of Marriage — by Betty Pingel:

There is an art to marriage as there is to any creative activity we human beings engage in. This art asks that we pay attention to the little things as well as the big ones that are part of the closeness of marriage. Never grow too old to hold hands. At least once each day, remember to say, “I love you.” In so much as it is possible, develop the capacity to forgive and forget and heal quarrels as they happen so that you do not go to bed angry. Your courtship should not end with the honeymoon; so pay attention that you do not come to take each other for granted, and remember to speak words of appreciation and demonstrate your gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is important to have a mutual sense of values and common objectives so that you stand together as you work through the world; and do things for each other, not as a duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. Do not expect perfection of each other. But do give each other room to grow and cultivate flexibility, patience, understanding, and sense of humor in your relationship. Your marriage is not just for two people. Use it to form a circle of love that gathers in your families and the children who may be part of your lives.

Remember that standing together never means dissolving your individual selves into each other, but indeed means the strengthening of the individuality of each. A good marriage evolves when two distinct individuals face life’s joy and its sorrow in harmony, not in unison.

This list is only a small part of what is required of two people who would truly accept that making a marriage over the years is an artistic endeavor worthy of our best efforts. It is not just another relationship in our lives; it is the one that gives us courage and the support to reach out to other people in love and wholeness.

Friendship — by Judy Bielicki:

It is often said that it is love that makes the world go round. However, without doubt, it is friendship which keeps our spinning existence on an even keel. True friendship provides so many of the essentials for a happy life-it is the foundation on which to build an enduring relationship, it is the mortar which bonds us together in harmony, and it is the calm, warm protection we sometimes need when the world outside seems cold and chaotic. True friendship holds a mirror to our foibles and failings, without destroying our sense of worthiness. True friendship nurtures our hopes, supports us in our disappointments, and encourages us to grow to our best potential. NAME and NAME came together as friends. Today, they pledge to each other not only their love, but also the strength, warmth and, most importantly, the fun of true friendship.

Quote by Richard Needham:

You don’t marry one person; you marry three:
the person you think they are,
the person they are, and
the person they are going to become
as a result of being married to you.

Blessing for a Marriage – James Dillet Freeman, 20th century poet, author, minister:

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring,
and may life grant you also patience, tolerance and understanding.
May you always need one another
not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness.
A mountain needs a valley to be complete;
the valley does not make the mountain less, but more;
and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it.
So let it be with you and you.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another.
May you succeed in all important ways with one another,
and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!”
and take no notice of small faults.
If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence
warm and near when you are side by side,
and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
May you have love, and may you find it loving one another!

To Love is Not to Possess — by James Kavanaugh:

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one’s inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

From an essay titled Union — by American author Robert Fulghum:

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way.

All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks – all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.

Quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

I Love You — by Roy Croft:

I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you, for the part of me that you bring out. I love you, for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart, and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out, into the light, all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find. I love you, because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life, not a tavern, but a temple. Out of the works of my every day, not a reproach, but a song. I love you, because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by being yourself. Perhaps that is what being a friend means, after all.

From the book “The Invitation” — by Oriah Mountain Dreamer (abridged):

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

 

I want to know if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.

I carry your heart in my heart — by E. E. Cummings:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)
i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Finding Love — by Robert J. Doebley:

I find love
not only
in the things
we do together
but also
in the things
I do alone
Because of you.
In the thoughts
you inspire,
in the dreams
you haunt, and
in the memories
you are helping
me to build.
I find love
in you.

The Most Wonderful of all Things in Life — by Sir Hugh Walpole:

The most wonderful of all things in life is the discovery of another human being with whom one’s relationship has a growing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase. This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvelous thing; it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident, and the most wonderful of all things in life.

Science / Science Fiction

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, by Carl Sagan:

Astrophysicist and philosopher Carl Sagan once said, while imagining we were looking down on earth from far in space, “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

“The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. … Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

from Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

“Our ancestors groped in darkness to make sense of their surroundings. Powerless before nature, they invented rituals and myths, some desperate and cruel, others imaginative and benign. As long as there have been humans, we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Where are we? Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. We make our world significant by the courage of our questions, and by the depth of our answers.

“All of the rocks we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interior of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

[When we look out at the stars, and the amazing intricacies of life, when we wonder what it all means and why we matter, somehow the simple act of loving transcends all of it and gives us a place of belonging, a reason for being.]

Quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Ask Me Anything… on Reddit Mar 1, 2012)

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.”

[NAME and NAME have created the love between them. Love may begin as a feeling or an emotional experience, but real love comes from a decision that people make to be committed to one another. Real love is a choice to nurture, share, and to act in loving, caring ways towards each other. This is where we generate our meaning and motivation in life.]

Richard Feynman, American theoretical physicist:

I guess maybe it is like rolling off of a log — my heart is filled again and I’m choked with emotions — and love is so good and powerful — it’s worth preserving — I know nothing can separate us — we’ve stood the tests of time and our love is as glorious now as the day it was born — dearest riches have never made people great but love does it every day — we’re not little people — we’re giants… I know we both have a future ahead of us — with a world of happiness — now & forever.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics (1964)

Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars — mere globs of gas atoms. Nothing is “mere”. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination — stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one-million-year-old light. A vast pattern — of which I am a part… What is the pattern or the meaning or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?

Quotes from “A Natural History Of Love”, by Diane Ackerman

(read more in an article by Maria Popova (www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/04/29/a-natural-history-of-love/)
A Natural History Of Love by prolific science historian Diane Ackerman, Carl Sagan’s favorite cosmic poet, endures as one of the most dimensional explorations of humanity’s highest emotion.

Love is the great intangible. Frantic and serene, vigilant and calm, wrung-out and fortified, explosive and sedate — love commands a vast army of moods.

What a small word we use for an idea so immense and powerful it has altered the flow of history, calmed monsters, kindled works of art, cheered the forlorn, turned tough guys to mush, consoled the enslaved, driven strong women mad, glorified the humble, fueled national scandals, bankrupted robber barons, and made mincemeat of kings. How can love’s spaciousness be conveyed in the narrow confines of one syllable? If we search for the source of the word, we find a history vague and confusing, stretching back to the Sanskrit lubhyati (“he desires”). I’m sure the etymology rambles back much farther than that, to a one-syllable word heavy as a heartbeat. Love is an ancient delirium, a desire older than civilization, with taproots stretching deep into dark and mysterious days.

Common as childbirth, love seems rare nonetheless, always catches one by surprise, and cannot be taught. Each child rediscovers it, each couple redefines it, each parent reinvents it.

We have the great fortune to live on a planet abounding with humans, plants, and animals; and I often marvel at the strange tasks evolution sets them. Of all the errands life seems to be running, of all the mysteries that enchant us, love is my favorite.

The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman

“I will love you forever, whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you…every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you…We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…”

From Babylon 5, the Declaration of Principles

The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. … It speaks in the language of hope
It speaks in the language of trust
It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion
It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul.
But always it is the same voice
It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us,
And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born
It is the small, still voice that says
We are one
No matter the blood No matter the skin No matter the world
No matter the star: We are one
No matter the pain No matter the darkness No matter the loss
No matter the fear: We are one
Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize the singular truth and this singular rule:
That we must be kind to one another
Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us.
We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future.
We are one. We are one.

The Declaration, by John M. Ford, 1998 (found here in full: http://elisem.livejournal.com/903525.html)

If any should ask why we are here, together, now, let it be said that we were brought here by a force stronger than suns, which is Will.
Ours was not a random course, though chance strengthened it.
We were not always sure of the way, and some of our steps have been slow, but our next step spans worlds.
Time will not stop for the strongest: and though we must go where it takes us, without companions chosen by the will and the heart, the journey is empty, and there is nothing to measure the victories by.

Scientific Romance, by Tim Pratt (science fiction and fantasy writer and poet) wrote this for his wife:

If starship travel from our
Earth to some far
star and back again
at velocities approaching the speed
of light made you younger than me
due to the relativistic effects
of time dilation,
I’d show up on your doorstep hoping
you’d developed a thing for older men,
and I’d ask you to show me everything you
learned to pass the time
out there in the endless void
of night.

If we were the sole survivors
of a zombie apocalypse
and you were bitten and transformed
into a walking corpse
I wouldn’t even pick up my
assault shotgun,
I’d just let you take a bite
out of me, because I’d rather be
undead forever
with you
than alive alone
without you.

If I had a time machine, I’d go back
to the days of your youth
to see how you became the someone
I love so much today, and then
I’d return to the moment we first met
just so I could see my own face
when I saw your face
for the first time,
and okay,
I’d probably travel to the time
when we were a young couple
and try to get a three-way
going. I never understood
why more time travelers don’t do
that sort of thing.

If the alien invaders come
and hover in stern judgment
over our cities, trying to decide
whether to invite us to the Galactic
Federation of Confederated
Galaxies or if instead
a little genocide is called for,
I think our love could be a powerful
argument for the continued preservation
of humanity in general, or at least,
of you and me
in particular.

If we were captives together
in an alien zoo, I’d try to make
the best of it, cultivate a streak
of xeno-exhibitionism,
waggle my eyebrows, and make jokes
about breeding in captivity.

If I became lost in
the multiverse, exploring
infinite parallel dimensions, my
only criterion for settling
down somewhere would be
whether or not I could find you:
and once I did, I’d stay there even
if it was a world ruled by giant spider-
priests, or one where killer
robots won the Civil War, or even
a world where sandwiches
were never invented, because
you’d make it the best
of all possible worlds anyway,
and plus
we could get rich
off inventing sandwiches.

If the Singularity comes
and we upload our minds into a vast
computer simulation of near-infinite
complexity and perfect resolution,
and become capable of experiencing any
fantasy, exploring worlds bound only
by our enhanced imaginations,
I’d still spend at least 1021 processing
cycles a month just sitting
on a virtual couch with you,
watching virtual TV,
eating virtual fajitas,
holding virtual hands,
and wishing
for the real thing.

World & Traditional Wisdom

Commitment Poem of the Pueblo Indian – author unknown

“Before we met, you and I were halves unjoined except in the wide rivers of our minds. We were each other’s distant shore, the opposite wings of a bird, the other half of a seashell. We did not know the other then, did not know our determination to keep alive the cry of one riverbank to the other. We were apart, Yet connected in our ignorance of each other, like two apples sharing a common tree. Remember?

I knew you existed long before you understood my desire to join my freedom to yours. Our paths collided long enough for our indecision to be swallowed up by the greater need of love. When you came to me, the sun surged towards the earth and moon escaped from darkness to bless the union of two spirits, so alike that the creator had designed them for life’s endless circle.

Beloved partner, keeper of my heart’s odd secrets, clothed in summer blossoms so the icy hand of winter never touches us. I thank your patience. Our joining is like a tree to earth, a cloud to sky and even more. We are the reason the world can laugh on its battlefields and rise from the ashes of its selfishness to hear me say, in this time, this place, this way – I loved you best of all.”

Apache Blessing (1)

Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.

Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.

May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead
and through all the years.

May happiness be your companion
and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

Apache Blessing (2)

Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship – as they threaten all relationships at one time or another – remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives – remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.

Apache Blessing (3)

May the sun bring you new energy by day,
May the moon softly restore you by night,
May the rain wash away your worries
And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
And all of the days of your life may you walk
Gently through the world and know its beauty.

From a Navajo Wedding Ceremony

Now you have lit a fire and that fire should not go out. The two of you now have a fire that represents love, understanding and a philosophy of life. It will give you heat, food, warmth and happiness. The new fire represents a new beginning – a new life and a new family. The fire should keep burning; you should stay together. You have lit the fire for life, until old age separates you.

Navajo Blessing

Be swift like the wind in loving each other.
Be brave like the sea in loving each other.
Be gentle like the breeze in loving each other.
Be patient like the sun who waits and watches the four changes of the earth in loving each other.
Be wise like the roaring of the thunder clouds and lightning in loving each other.
Be shining like the morning dawn in loving each other.
Be proud like the tree who stands without bending in loving each other.
Be brilliant like the rainbow colors in loving each other.
Now, forever, forever, there will be no more loneliness because your worlds are joined together with the world. Forever, forever.

Traditional Pagan Blessing –  Ed Fitch (edited & abridged)

Above you are the stars, below you are the stones.
As time passes, remember…
Like a star should your love be constant,
Like the earth should your love be firm.
Be free in giving of affection and of warmth.
Be understanding. Have patience with each other,
For storms will come, and they will go quickly.

Buddhist Marriage Homily – author unknown

To say the words “love and compassion” is easy. But to accept love and compassion are built upon patience and perseverance is not easy. Your marriage will be firm and lasting if you remember this.

Traditional Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.

May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.

May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.

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