Monday, March 29, 2010

A Minister Without a Gun

We spent a week in Sedona, Arizona last week for my sister-in-law's wedding. Kim married a guy named Jerome.

A couple of days before the wedding, Kim and Jerome hadn't found a minister to perform the ceremony. By stating this fact, I do not mean to imply that Kim lacks interest or ability in planning. All I'm saying is that two days before the wedding, they didn't have anyone to perform the ceremony. Just that. And only that.

One possibility was Michael. He's a large, confident fellow with a booming voice. But he has been married -- twice -- to the bride, so there were concerns. They asked me to do it, and to my surprise, I said yes.

While I am a holder of two types of priesthood--the Aaronic and the Melchizedek--I do not have the legal authority to use either of these powers to perform a wedding ceremony. However, i do have a laptop with access to, so within minutes I became an ordained minister of what I'm fairly certain is the Universal Life Church.

I realize that some people who rely on me for spiritual guidance may be concerned that my previous priesthood powers have become compromised with the new ordination. You may be asking whether the various powers can be used together, if one supersedes the other, or if they cancel each other out. If you are concerned, I simply ask that you continue to be concerned, because it means that you care, and it's a healthy distraction from your own mortality. Yeah, verily.

And it came to pass that on the Saturday of the wedding, Max did become ill with a fever most feverish in nature. And I became concerned, yeah, for I begat Max.

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I'll stop talking that way. Anyway, Max was running a fever on the day of the wedding, but we all had roles to play in the ceremony, which was being held about ten yards away from a hiking trail just outside of town. The wedding circle consisted of rocks placed in a circle. The circle was roughly 15 cubits in diameter, or 7.5 cubits in radius, with a circumference of 47.1 cubits and an area of 176.6 cubits. Verily.

At the east and west ends of the circle were openings in the rock formation. The women entered the circle through the west end; the men entered through the east end. Before we entered, a guy "smudged" participants. He asked each person to stand before him while he used a feather to fan the smoke from a burning sage branch onto them, front and back. (If you doubt me, Google "smudge.")

The ringbearers, Luke and Max, accepted the smudging stoically and passed into the circle. I, myself, tried to counter the cleansing ritual by decentering my chakra, resulting in a vortex upheaval that no one expected or noticed. Smudged, I picked up Max and comforted him with the idea that this will all be over soon. The bride's party entered the circle. Thus, I spake.

As I read the ceremony from the cards, I kept telling myself that it was just a ceremony--don't fight it--but I didn't exactly agree with what I read. The first sentiment was about not believing in something just because you heard it, or just because it's written somewhere. That's all fine and good, but then the quote implies that you should believe in something only after you've studied it out. That's misguided. It puts too much credence in one's own thoughts. People often study and meditate and think things through, and still come up with preposterous ideas. Just look at Ayn Rand. Being a free thinker doesn't prevent someone from being silly in the head.

When I finished reading the ceremony, the smudger played some kind of glass instrument. As he ran a mallet around the rim of the glass bowl, the vibrations made a strange musical noise. He then went around to everyone in the wedding circle and made this musical noise in front of them. While I was standing there, I wondered whether the bowl guy (his name was actually Guy) could learn something about a person by holding the vibrating bowl in front of him. I have no doubt that he thinks he can, but does he really? Let's just say I'm open to the possibility.

He then waved the glass thing between Kim and Jerome to, I don't know, reveal their heart energy through the medium of timbre. I then announced that we were going to observe two minutes of silence. Guy sat on the ground and started to pull something out of his pocket. What was it? My mind raced. Was it a sacred arrowhead? Was it some kind of amber healing stone? Nope. It was a stop watch. When two minutes had elapsed, he used a little mallet to ding the bowl.

"Jerome!" I said.

This was Jerome's cue to say his vows. The words were supposed to come from his heart, but in all fairness, doing extemporaneous wedding vows is just a terrible idea, even for people who embrace things like the equinox and Sedona vortexes (again, google). "Words cannot express, um, how deeply..." When he finished, he nodded at me.

"Kim!" I announced.

Have I mentioned that it's a bad idea to ad lib wedding vows? Expressing love through tears is an intimate act that only a couple--and perhaps their ULC minister--should participate in. It's not something that friends and family and hiking passers-by need to hear.

"Bring forth the rings!" I bellowed.

Luke came out of his daze, stood up from his blanket in the middle of the circle, and handed Jerome's ring to Kim. Max, who was still feverish, remained seated on his blanket. At this point, I probably should have said something like "Max, give Jerome the ring." But here's the thing, and I'm dead serious about this. It wasn't on the cue cards. Good or bad, I was sticking to the script. For about ten seconds, Max sat on the ground, perfectly oblivious to the proceedings. I think Jerome probably wanted to say something, but he couldn't tell the difference between Luke and Max. I'm just guessing. Finally, Wendy loudly whispered, "Max! The ring!"

"Jerome, do you take Kim onward?" I said as Jerome put the ring on Kim's finger.

"Kim, do you take Jerome onward?" I said as Kim put the ring on Jerome's finger.

"By the power vested in me, and [reading from cue cards] all of the universal seen and the unseen [no longer reading], I now pronounce you husband and wife. Jerome, you may kiss the bride."

Clapping. Tears. Hugs. Laughter.

Max and I hung out in the hotel room and watched March Madness while everyone else danced at the reception. Fun was had by all.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Phrase of the Day

Max and Luke now have separate bedrooms. While they were playing in Luke's room before school, I went in and parentally urged them to get dressed. Max left Luke's room, while Luke went through the motions of getting dressed. I don't believe Luke was trying to make me mad with his boondoggling -- part of me believes that that's just how little kids are -- but I wasn't sure. I guess a child just can't take pajamas off and put clothes on without interrupting the process at regular intervals to pick up a lego here and bottle cap there. Oh, what's this thing stuck to the side of my dresser? I know I'm late for school, but I don't mind taking a few minutes to pick at it.

A minute or so later, Max came back into Luke's room, fully dressed, while Luke had barely managed to get his pajama tops off.

"What took you so short?" Luke asked.