a homily for the Ammerman / Van Meter wedding, delivered at the Cane Ridge Meeting House in Paris, Kentucky on November 1, 2009. based on their reading by Rumi, posted below.
An Armor of Roses by Rumi
Take January’s advice. Stack wood.
Weather inevitably turns cold, and you
make fires to stay healthy. Study
the grand metaphor of this yearly work.
Wood is a symbol for absence. Fire,
for your love of God. We burn form
to warm the soul. Soul loves winter
for that, and accepts reluctantly the
comfort of spring with its elegant,
proliferating gifts. All part of the
plan: fire becoming ash becoming
garden soil becoming mint, willow, and
tulip. Love looks like fire.
Feed yourself into it.
i’m thinking about how this room is built from Kentucky ground. these walls were built from Kentucky blue ash—these logs cut and hewn by people who knew how to live off this land. oak and chestnut trees were used for beams and supports. the folks who built this church drove posts down into this fertile Kentucky soil, the same soil that grew those tall trees. they were in the work of splitting planks, carting lumber, setting each piece in place, truing up corners and mixing the mud to make mortar.
leave it to these two punky brewsters to get married on All Saint’s Day, a day we remember all the saints, known and unknown—those who have died, who are already at rest throughout the world. leave it to them to celebrate new life in marriage on the very day we make memory of lives already lived. leave it to them to make a ritual of looking backwards with gratitude, while looking forward with joy.
packed into this old fashioned church, it’s impossible not to think of the generations and lives that lived before us—people we love who’ve already passed through this life and moved into another one with god. in this room, we remember our ancestors, who are together somewhere else easy to be, where they can dance with their broken bones. but oh how they also are in this very room with us too—their hopes and dreams stretched out across the bone structures in our faces and their stories inside hand-me-down wedding bands, tarnished and shiny with their own stories of love and of striving. with us and with these two punky brewsters, those already gone from us, are celebrating.
Rumi talks about making fires to stay healthy, studying the grand metaphor of the yearly work that is cutting the logs, stacking the wood, building the fires and learning something from the burn. it’s like lighting a candle for someone we love—to memorialize the past and say a prayer for the future. meanwhile, the woodpile needs attention. meanwhile, the wood needs chopping. meanwhile, we’ve got to find a way to get through winter.
while we light fires to memorialize the past, we stack wood for the future. standing in this little country church, in the spirit of all our saints and on the eve of wintertime, we know this is how to build the sacred room of marriage: to let the people we love be our tall trees, our floorboards, our headboards. to put stakes in the ground for one another. to look backwards at who came before, to light a candle for every name, to haul the logs, place them somewhere special, burn form to warm the soul, say our prayers out loud, always looking forward—and back.
Sarah Wylie and Griffin, you are passions & boldness & punk & purpose. this is a really beautiful wedding, and we’re all here to witness it. but we’re here to witness it, because we believe in an even more beautiful marriage. we’ll be here like so much more firewood for you when you need it. an armor of roses. fire becoming ash becoming garden soil becoming mint, willow, tulip.
god bless, the wooden frame of your faces. god bless your unbridled passions and all your devotion. god bless this sacred Kentucky spot and all the trees felled to build it. god bless you as you live into this love.