Karl and I take the swans’ divine messages to heart and marry two years later in a soulful twilight ceremony in the Murdoch University gardens, our wedding invitation admitting that we do so with “not a little trepidation”. In the months before, Karl reflects in his journal on the qualities of a successful marriage: goodwill in the relationship and a feeling of equity, which he saw as essential for continuing love, trust, and intimacy.
Marriage for Karl is about “devotion in the spiritual sense, about self-sacrifice out of desire, rather than obligation. It’s about souls.”
For him, “marriage ideally should provide a structure for healing each other.”
Our wedding ceremony
Our wedding ceremony glows with inclusiveness, hopefulness, and Earth consciousness. Guests hang silver paper moons bearing their messages of good wishes from glittering metallic moonbeams falling from a huge golden papier-mâché moon. As twilight descends, they whisper their blessings to us as we stand together in the garden. Everyone seems to recognize that, at midlife, we are embarking on a journey of discovery — a spiritual journey.
One guest writes, “The day of miracles has not passed. There is tomorrow and tomorrow.” Another said, “Nurture yourselves to have the strength to nurture each other and grow.”
My thesis supervisor, Patsy (who was also Karl’s professor), wishes us a blessed sensual and sexual time together, offering “a sacred kingfisher dive of delight.”
In preparing our vows, Karl finds a sentence from the anarchist ecologist, Murray Bookchin: “no one is saved until we are all saved.”
Bookchin’s words resonate with his labor union politics.
We promise as we move into what we call “the gentleness of the second half of our lives,” to respect each other and cherish the unfolding of our true selves. We vow to create a nurturing and supportive ground where both of us can grow confidently.
Acknowledging that our lives are woven into the great mystery of this Earth, we commit to working together to nurture Life in all its fragile forms and to protect the happiness and freedom of all beings, the sacredness of community, and the blessings of friends and family.
I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU
A powerful poem Karl selects for our ceremony stays with me long after the details of our wedding have faded:
I will never leave you
no matter how many miles separate us
or the veil of death pass over my face.
I will never leave you
you who have loved and cared for me and my work…
you will feel my shy hand reach for yours
when times are scary and hard.
In his wedding speech, holding a red rose, Karl announces that this is something he is going to get right.
Our 10-Year Recommitment Ceremony
At our 10-year recommitment ceremony in Brisbane in December 2004, as Leonie Shore, our celebrant, completes our handfasting ritual, I remind Karl of his intention to get this right:
“Beloved, you got it more than right! You got it brilliant.”
On that occasion, surrounded by our friends on a balmy sub-tropical summer evening, I bless the precious friend I have found in my soul-mate, Karl. Holding him close under our cherished golden papier-mache wedding moon, I celebrate his “walkabout” qualities, his open-heartedness, his ability to fix anything (even broken hearts), his kindness, generosity, and care for all beings. (He loves non-human animals more than humans.)
I recall how he wept at the sight of blossoming Japanese cherry trees in the springtime in Vancouver.
“Oh! Lovely,” he exclaimed. “How lovely!”
For Karl, “lovely” is life’s highest praise.
I will never forget you
After his death, Karl confides:
I will never forget you, our wedding, our marriage, and our love.
They were the best things that ever happened to me. I thank you so much for loving me.