“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” C.G. Jung
Last year, for my birthday which is in March, I married myself. There was a sweet smattering of friends from different communities that came, and one of my dearest friends, Travis, officiated for me. I think my family back East in New England thought I was nuts (I didn’t deliberately tell them, but you know how news travels), but I wasn’t doing it for them, or for anyone else. Choosing to marry myself was about cementing a commitment to not forget that I am here–that I have needs–and that if I don’t tend to them I’m not honoring myself, both the human and the divine inside. It was only when I experienced an intense rejection by my then beloved about 9 months earlier that I was forced to really engage with my self care, and to not look outside for someone else to fulfill me.
Here are the vows I took:
I vow to love myself with the depth, breadth, consistency and commitment that I love others.
I vow to honor the Beloved as it resides in myself.
I vow to hold my self-care as a non-negotiable priority.
I vow to give myself full permission to live fully and expansively, while also feeling grounded and secure in my home, body, life, relationships, work and spiritual practice.
I vow to remember that when I am manifesting my true ‘work’ in the world, the Universe will bring me all the abundance–financial, energetic, emotional, spiritual, physical–I need to live joyfully and in integrity.
I vow to continue to lovingly bust my own stories of limitation and scarcity, and to bring endless compassion and amusement to said process.
I vow to give myself permission to ask for help when I need it.
I vow to do my best to be the mother my daughter needs, and to release my attachment to what is unnecessary or harmful.
I vow to cultivate, honor and celebrate myself as an embodied erotic being.
I vow to continue to support myself on the path to becoming a financially savvy, capable and secure woman. I vow to raise my daughter to be the same.
I vow to honor my body as a manifestation of my spirit/soul, and to remember that honoring the needs of the body is honoring the needs of the self.
I vow to be the change I wish to see in the world.
I vow to be the love I wish to see in the world.
This commitment to myself has made all the difference in the world. And my world has overgone a major re-haul in the past year, including meeting the man who is now my husband, and soulmate. At our wedding in June 2008, besides taking more traditionally worded vows, he and I took these Zen vows/precepts:
“We nourish ourselves and each other in living by the following five precepts:
1. In every way we can, we allow our deepest Self to appear.
2. We take full responsibility for our own life, in all its infinite dimensions.
3. We affirm our trust in the honesty and wisdom of our own body, which with our love and reverence always shows us the true way.
4. We are committed to embrace all parts of ourself, including our deepest fears and shadows, so that they can be transformed into light.
5. We affirm our willingness to keep our hearts open, even in the midst of great pain.”
(p 187, Into the Garden: A Wedding Anthology, edited by Robert Hass & Stephen Mitchell, 1993 HarperCollins)
The whole ceremony was amazing, and intimately crafted from our hearts, including our other vows, but as time passes I find that these are what stick out the most for me. These words intimately spell out how we agree to engage not just with each other, but individually and with the world. There are many things that I was attracted to in Bruno when I met him, but it was the quality of his loving engagement with his world that really spoke to me, that said, “Hey Ursula, pay attention–this one is different. He’s already here, already deeply alive.”
So here I am, embracing deeper shadows in myself, acknowledging more clearly who I actually am, so that I engage more authentically, and happily, with the world around me. The work is hard, and sometimes scary, but infinitely rewarding. Things do get easier–I become more loving with myself, more available to enjoy those I love.
The wakened lover speaks directly to the beloved,
“You are the sky my spirit circles in,
the love inside my love, the resurrection-place.
Let this window be your ear.
I have lost consciousness many times
with longing for your listening silence,
and your life-quickening smile.
You give attention to the smallest matters,
my suspicious doubts, and to the greatest.
You know my coins are counterfeit,
but you accept them anyway,
my impudence and my pretending!
I have five things to say,
five fingers to give
into your grace.
First, when I was apart from you,
this world did not exist,
nor any other.
Second, whatever I was looking for was always you.
Third, why did I ever learn to count to three?
Fourth, my cornfield is burning!
Fifth, this finger stands for Rabia, and this is for someone else.
Is there a difference?
Are these words or tears?
Is weeping speech?
What shall I do, my love?”
So he speaks, and everyone around
begins to cry with him, laughing crazily,
moaning in the spreading union
of lover and beloved.
This is the true religion. All others
are thrown-away bandages beside it.
This is the sema of slavery and mastery
dancing together. This is not-being.
Neither words, nor any natural fact
can express this.
I know these dancers.
Day and night I sing their songs
in this phenomenal cage.
My soul, don’ try to answer now!
Find a friend, and hide.
But what can stay hidden?
Love’s secret is always lifting its head
out from under the covers,
“Here I am!”