I am in New York for the celebration of the wedding of my nephew Michael, a joyous occasion for them and all of their family and friends.
I offer to Michael and Megan, and to all newly-married couples, this blessing from John O’Donohue. He titles it For Marriage.
As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other’s hearts to birth.
As the ocean finds calm in view of land,
May you love the gaze of each other’s mind.
As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.
As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,
So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.
As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.
As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May you welcome eah other’s every gift.
As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.
As twilight harvests all the day’s color,
May love bring you home to each other.
From John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us
Yesterday afternoon I moderated a dialogue at UST law school sponsored by two student groups – the St. Thomas More Society, our Catholic law student association, and Outlaw, which educates members regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. The subject of the dialogue was same-sex marriage and related issues.
Recognizing that there are sharply divergent views on this issue but that we live as part of the same community, the students hoped that their dialogue would allow them to “find a level of understanding and, if possible, commonality that will allow us to engage each other in more respectful and loving ways without losing sight of substance and real differences in our views.”
We had four panelists (two students from each of the sponsoring groups). They started the dialogue by each making an initial statement of who they were, why the issue was important to them and what their perspective was. They then each posed one question to the members of the other group, after which we invited participation by the audience.
I was very proud of both the four students who were the panelists and of all those in the audience who participated in the discussion. Diverse views were expressed – and some quite strongly. But the conversation was conducted in a respectful manner, without any of the name-calling or other insulting behavior that often accompanies such discussion. What I experienced was people trying to both convey their own views and to understand the views of those with whom they disagreed. And what I saw was an emphasis on how to be in relationship with each other…how to love. It was particularly rewarding to listen to the four panelists talk about how they grew in relationship with each other during their long discussions in preparation for the event.
One of the students on the panel drew a distinction I thought was an important one for diverse people trying to live in community – a distinction between changing views and broadening perspectives. The former, he observed, is not necessary for the latter to take place. And that is really what yesterday’s dialogue was about – not an effort by anyone to change the mind of the other (an effort that often results in hostility and defensiveness), but a mutual effort to help (very small) part in it.