Member: Steppingfeet Location: Louisville, KY Gender: Male Interests: Spiritual evolution, books, meditation, nakedness, hiking, peanut butter, good music, good people, running, working out, Earth (the planet), hard work, no work, accomplishing something, helping & learning from others, staring in wonder at nature, friends & family, emotion, teeth brushing, NPR, clean sheets, trail mix, mountains, oceans, rivers, forests, electric scissors.
I am he who repeats the name of the nameless over and over in my thoughts, in my mantras, in my actions; ceaselessly I am he who prays to see and to know the face of the faceless. Also, I am he who loves his pillow at the end of a long day. O pillow, pillow, wherefore art thou pillow?
Published by Bring4th_GLB on August 20, 2019 3:44pm. Category: General
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Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Published by Bring4th_GLB on May 1, 2015 3:36pm. Category: General
Arpil 24, 2015
Last week I and other loved ones said goodbye to Carla L. Rueckert, a friend and mentor whose impact on my life cannot be overstated.
I met Carla 13 years ago this month during a time of significant transition from an old life to a new. At that time I was awakening from an incarnational slumber to a deep-seated, previously dormant need to live a conscious, what I would call spiritual life, for the first time asking questions about the nature of reality, the meaning of existence, what I can do to help others, and, most fundamentally, "Who am I?" This was a difficult period as an old life died and in its place a new one, with a very different, broader worldview, was born. It was only in retrospect that I could situate that period of inner turmoil and darkness as one chapter in a much greater narrative: the journey of self-realization.
That journey or trajectory began when the metaphorical inner alarm clock first opened my eyes just before leaving for the Army around 18 years old, setting me upon a path that I am still walking today, a path of seeking the truth for myself. In the initial phases of that process, I discovered many helpful and partially illuminating sources of information, but it was Carla's little-known work that spoke, and still speaks, most powerfully to me. At no time before or since has a source of light reached me on such a bone-deep level. In her authored and channeled material, I had found my philosophical home. By home I mean that it reminded me of something forgotten long ago, lost somewhere in the dimly lit recesses of the subconscious mind. And in the process, the philosophy, cosmology, and spiritual/ethical principles shared by her tiny organization came to form both the foundation and framework of my own worldview, a perspective that emphasizes the underlying unity or oneness of all life, and speaks to love and light being the nature of all things.
Though I continue to seek far and wide, and have enjoyed many sources of enlightenment available on this planet, I have yet to encounter so universal, inclusive, elegant, sophisticated, internally consistent, heart-opening, and beautiful a philosophy as that which she and her group produced. It is entirely consistent with the reports of all mystics who unanimously affirm that all things are one - that everything we see and do, every person we meet, and every moment life is God, is the Creator knowing itself. The tears were many upon initial discovery, and the gratitude since has been unending.
Two years after stumbling upon her work, I had my first chance to meet Carla in April, 2002 at a small gathering in Louisville, Kentucky, in a weekend event that was high magic for me. Afterward I struck up correspondence with Carla, making a couple of visits to see her and her husband Jim in the following months, when, during another small event a year after the initial meeting, I was given the opportunity to relocate to Louisville to work more closely with her group, L/L Research. I couldn't believe my lucky stars.
Spiritual seeking had become the primary focus of my life by that point. Not because Carla or any source outside of myself elevated its importance, but rather because I had awakened to something and could not turn back - I needed to understand the greater picture, a need that has not diminished over time. As spirituality was the main driver, I wanted to be near others who were similarly engaged on the eternal quest to know the self - which is another way of saying, to know the Creator. No one in northeast Ohio was even remotely on a similar path, and I had no commitments of career or relationship, so I hopped on I-71 and soon as I could and headed south!
I've been happily in Louisville ever since. And in all the many adventures I've enjoyed, dramatic growth I've experienced, beautiful open-hearted people I've befriended, and the wonderful opportunities to interact with seekers from around the world bearing similar questions and similar philosophical approaches to life, I have Carla more than any other outside of my own parents to thank.
Carla and her husband Jim, but especially Carla, took me under her wing. She didn't play an active mentorship role in terms of instructing, per se - counseling my decision-making process or guiding towards specific outcomes - rather by her example, her philosophy, her essence, and the opportunity she gave me, I grew into adulthood. Any who knew me in my early twenties can attest to how different I am now. Though, like everyone else, I still have endless miles to go, I have come leaps and bounds since then, finding my own two feet, standing upright, and becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin. There are many factors that have contributed to that growth - especially the healing catalyst of my current relationship with my wife, and the relationship with my past girlfriend - but it was Carla gave me the soil into which I could plant myself and grow.
Hers is a philosophy built upon the basis of free will. And for those positively oriented souls who wish to grow in a service-to-others direction, free will must always, insofar as it is possible, be respected and not infringed upon. The gist is that we can only serve others to the extent it is requested; each has their own inner compass and is their own authority. She held this attitude toward me as well, giving me the space to grow and, without interfering, meeting me with love wherever I was and in whatever my emotional state.
And among the many reflections that can be made about the extraordinary person Carla was, they all must begin and end in the heart, for Carla was truly a person if ever I met one of unconditional love. She saw all people at the soul level, whatever their outer behavior, and loved everyone with whom she came into contact.
This was not, however, a personal achievement, so much as it was a manifestation of her own inner, and absolutely total devotion to the sacred dimension of life. Every fiber of her being was pointed toward living life sacramentally, as an act of devotion and worship, and it was Jesus Christ that was at the center of that orientation. Carla had experiences of meeting this being as a child. As her husband Jim wrote in the eulogy he delivered:
"A fascinating experience occurred because she had to wear glasses at such an early age. One day, when she was 2 years old, and when it was time for her to take her afternoon nap, her mother put her in her crib next to the window and closed the Venetian blinds. Before she went to sleep, Carla took her glasses off and put them between the blinds which were drawn for her nap. Then she laid down and saw that there was light coming through the slit in the blinds. When it went through her glasses it made a beam of light that she was able to use to slide out of her body and go to what seemed like a magic forest. The animals would communicate with her, colors were more vivid, and when she went to the center of the forest, there she would see Jesus. He didn't look like the paintings you usually see. His hair was long, matted, and dusty from the road. His robe was dusty too, and he never spoke a word. But when he held her hand and looked into her eyes, she immediately knew what unconditional love was. This experience occurred many times over the next few years. When she was five years old she told her mom and dad about the experience, and they told her that it was not real. It was in her mind. That she had made it up. So the experience never happened again. But her devotion to Jesus as her Lord and Savior began then and never wavered throughout her life. And from that point on, love would become her way of looking at the world. Those two parts of this experience never changed for her."
Carla's love of Jesus and lifetime in the church were of a non-dogmatic variety, though. She was what you would call a Christian mystic. She drew inspiration from Christian principles, but recognized that the universe, or God, or truth was too great to be contained by any one religion, or teaching, or philosophy; she knew there are as many paths to truth as there are people; that each person has a sacred right to find and discover what is true for themselves without it being imposed upon them. Indeed she recognized that there is no formulation of language and symbol that can capture the truth because each person IS the living truth that they seek. No teaching outside the self can deliver that. Words can only point the way within where each is working with and creating their own personal myth.
And it was with that attitude that, rooted in her love of Jesus, she joined a mechanical engineer and physics professor turned pilot, Don Elkins, to form L/L Research in the late 1960's, and to blaze together a completely novel and utterly unique path to the One by way of the discoveries they made and the information they received through their experiment. It is the path that they - along with Jim later down the road - forged which I gladly follow, finding a utility and sturdiness that continues to not only withstand every test I can put it to, but continues to grow and blossom in direct proportion to my own deepening awareness of the unity of all things.
The information that they discovered, which so profoundly affected every corner of my life, involved significant sacrifice on her part, but she and the other two in their small band never turned their material into a commercial product that is withheld from the seeker until a financial transaction is made. From the beginning they were of the opinion that if it can be of any help to someone, it ought be available for free. They stayed true to that ethos, and spiritual seekers from around the world, though small in number, have, as a result of coming into contact with this work, continued to be informed, illuminated, and even awakened to their own desire to seek the truth, often profoundly so. The transformations that others experience are real and often enduring; enduring in that twenty or more years later after first encountering this love and free-will centered philosophy, seekers are still feeling its presence in their lives and learning from its wisdom.
Sacred though Carla was, she wasn't stiff and rigid. She was a jokster, living life lightheartedly, laughing often, and approaching life as if each moment were not only a gift, but often a funny gift. She loved straight vodka and rare steak, devoured cheap romance novels, and spent significant hours being distracted to prime time TV dramas, NCIS especially.
But Carla was a person of considerable inner and outer discipline. Through each test of life and through long years of navigating the troubled waters we all know so well, she was relentless in tuning her attitude, calibrating her perspective, and aiming her will to a vision of optimism and, more deeply, faith. In the many daunting moments of catalyst that came her way, she had an inner surety that, no matter the outer appearances, all was well, she was held in the hands of the Creator, and her job in each moment was to find the light and serve others. To those outside her it seemed so natural and effortless for Carla to be smiling, buoyant, and ready to love, but deeper examination would reveal that what she made effortless was in actuality the result of long-term, intensive discipline. Carla was a person of exceptional will power.
She awoke each morning with that optimism. When selecting her clothing for the day her general attitude was one of, "What shall I wear to the party today?" That optimistic, faithful outlook was in no way blind to the many ills of the world, but through her discipline she consciously chose, and chose again, and chose again, to embrace and love life, glorying in the opportunity to be here and serve, praising most everything that came before her, and expressing her gratitude for life through both song and dance. Carla loved singing, especially hymnals through the church choir, but was liable to break out into songs of praise and thanksgiving at random moments throughout the day. And she loved dancing, spending her summers at a camp at Noyes School of Rhythm in Massachusetts as a young girl and dancing long into her older years until her body would no longer support her.
She also loved to be busy. Work was not a four-letter word for Carla, it was her means of giving and playing in the gardens of the Creator, especially her literal garden where she would spend many an hour pulling out the weeds and singing/talking to the plants, and especially in the kitchen where she cooked as a means of service, imbuing each dish with the most important ingredient that came from her unfailingly opened heart. But by the time I met her, her body was no longer able to dance, and her time pulling weeds in the garden was growing short, though we did have some good times in the kitchen together, especially when combining a glass or two of wine with the cooking.
Her path might also be described as one of subtraction. Each of the activities that Carla loved in life were gradually removed from her abilities, from dancing, to walking, to exercise, to cooking and cleaning, to singing in the choir, to eventually even typing, limiting her ability to exercise one of her strongest incarnational gifts: writing; she was such a gifted, creative writer. Eventually even doing her beloved NY Times crossword puzzles, and reading itself - no matter how big we made the font on her Kindle - became outside of her possibilities. But against all testing and limitation seemingly imposed upon her by an increasingly crippled body, her faith was as steady and as bright as the Sun which no Earthly weather could extinguish.
But while living from the open heart isn't easy for anyone in this world - anger, blame, judgment, retribution, condemnation are often so much easier - it was a special crucible for Carla. Her medical difficulties were chronic. I've never met anyone with a frailer physical vehicle beset with more troubles. The experts had been predicting her imminent death from age zero, but through will, faith, and support from others, most especially Jim, Carla made it to the ripe age of 71. Her cross though was difficult to carry, especially during the final four years of her life. Bound to a hospital bed with an open wound on her back from a spinal fusion surgery, her physical suffering was enormous.
But where most would falter, myself including, Carla's spirit trumped the condition of her body. She always kept smiling, never complained, and found ways to be of service to others even from her hospital bed. Devoted to service as she was, she demonstrated in her final years that service needn't be about *doing* anything in particular, though we can be of tremendous help to others through action, but more fundamentally that service at its most powerful is a service of *being*. Before we say a word, lift a finger, indeed before we breathe, we are effortlessly emanating our essence - our primary vibratory signature or state of awareness, you might say. This is happening without our doing anything, and it is a function of our depth of realization of oneness with the Creator.
In that regard the more that we do our own work in consciousness to open our hearts, clear ourselves of fear, reduce judgment of self and others, and honor unconditional love and the Creator in each we meet and see, our light grows stronger. We shine into the darkness of this illusion, and where light meets the dark, the dark is cast out.
Carla radiated this light. That light was palpable to those who knew her personally and those who knew her through her work. She was by any measure an exceptional person. She was exceedingly honest. She was truer to herself than most I have met - seldom relating to others with any mask, persona, or pretense - and hers was a light that illuminated my life and the lives of many others around the world.
But she was not alone tilting at windmills and triumphing singlehandedly. She was one half a two-part system, a strand of rope inextricably bound up with another: her husband, companion, and caretaker, Jim. The rock that Carla stood and rested upon was that offered by her absolutely unfailing, unwavering husband. No matter her indomitable will, faith, and inner strength, Carla could not have made it as long as she did were it not for the indefatigable support system that Jim provided. Jim is an equally beautiful and noble human being, and so often when I speak of Carla's work here, I am speaking of *their* work, but his tribute will be for another day.
When I first met Carla there was, admittedly, a bit of hero worship. But as our relationship deepened and became more authentic, I stopped placing her upon a pedestal so that a friendship of one soul to another soul could grow. Though there were small moments of interpersonal catalyst, and Carla's own human follies became apparent, my respect and admiration only increased as I witnessed the mysterious marriage of the error-prone human made of flesh and the conditioned past, with the light of the eternal soul within. Carla made that light more conscious, and manifested it more purely through unconditional love. Grounded in the dirt of this world, she was one of the most noble people I've known.
I didn't see her in a mother role, but I believe I designed this life to help support her and Jim's work. I loved helping Carla and making her happy. It always gave me an extra glow when she would express approval for my L/L work, when she would use a term of endearment and call me "bud", and when, upon reporting to her of the work I did in for L/L Taiwan, and another occasion or two, she replied saying, "I couldn't be more proud of you if you were my own."
Special though she was, she would say that she's just a bozo on the bus. I was lucky beyond lucky to have had the opportunity to ride alongside Carla for a time, a fellow bozo and traveler, to be given the honor of a lifetime to combine my personal passion with vocation in representing her organization, and to, above all, be her friend. I will always miss her.
Published by Bring4th_GLB on February 10, 2015 12:33am. Category: General
There are three distinct lights shining on you, each one fundamentally different from the other, but much the same in that each is a source of inspiration.
The Stars From your relaxed position on the couch, you look up through the large wall of window panes on the A-frame. Out above the mountains in the distance are stars, stars in the same patterns and positions that met the transfixed gazes of every generation of seeker before you since the beginning; stars that have been the mute destination of humanity's greatest unanswered questions. Questions about who we are, what is really happening here beyond the small world of human concepts, and, questions of why.
You realize that no authority - neither the modern-day astronomers who have peered deeper into the physical universe than any before them, nor our priests and philosophers, wise though they may be - can tell us precisely what is happening out there and thusly, down here. No one can answer "Why?", at least not adequately with words.
You consider that our daily lives are consumed with the events that fill them, but underneath and all around that restricted focus is an absolute sea of unanswered unknowns. While we are thoroughly hypnotized by the desires and fears, pleasures and terrors that occupy our minds, we are meanwhile forever swimming in total, unbroken mystery - the greatest being who, actually, we are. Beyond our past conditioning, behind our thoughts and before our sentient responses, what is the source of our consciousness? Why are we? Do we participate in a greater order or meaning that exists outside our usual mode of perception?
You contemplate that the greatest human minds have advanced our civilization, making appreciable headway into the unknown, answering questions that had eluded others, drastically changing our capacity of living, but even they quickly met their limits. The mystery did not yield it's full secrets to their probing inquiries.
Your mind shifts to consideration of the rare Jesus' and Buddhas of the world. Outliers such as they did indeed discover who and what they really are, which is to say, who and what WE really are. They - and others like them who gained or remembered the larger perspective - attempted to communicate and demonstrate the long view to the rest of us (garbled though their teaching subsequently became); the former through love and sacrifice, the latter through enlightenment, each realizing the illusion of the individual self, that self which seems separate from the All. Yet, having discovered ultimate identity/absolute truth, they, also, were not omniscient. They, too, bowed before the great mystery that beckons all who peek behind the curtain.
What we don't know! And shining into our insulated, walled-off lives, how the stars are subtle, quiet reminders of and invitations into the endless ocean of unknown that begins at the end of the small bubble we call "understanding".
We are babes crawling out of our crib.
The Fire And still on the couch, your whiskey drink in hand, your gaze shifts to the second source of light shining on you: the fire steadily burning in the fire place. It warms your sockless feet propped up on the coffee table, and crackles quietly as the wood logs shift every now and then, their material transformed and disappeared by the hungry flames.
Mixed with your indie folk Spotify playlist, both conspire to form a lullaby of peace and rest to your heart wearied by the troubles of this world.
The Trish And of these lights there is the greatest. Her eyes are closed as she sleeps, her head resting on your lap. The dim light of the fire cast the contours of her face in a changing mix of light and shadow, some of her revealed, some hidden. How delicate she is. How strong she is. How you love her today and want to love her better tomorow.
You have seen her now in so many lights. You realize that whatever the reflected light which brings her beauty to your eyes, whether the soft glow of firelight, the lifeless fluorescent tubes of a retail store, the bright midday sun, or the absence of light in a darkened room, her face is always revealed to you anew and awash in the same mechanism that makes your heart beat and your lungs expand and contract, which is to say, love.
Why of all people are you with this other self? What forces brought you two together through unknowably improbably infinite variables? Why are you so connected and endlessly drawn to one another? What calls you further into love and inspires you both to keep seeking more deeply, looking for a boundary to love, a beginning or an end, only to relearn again and again that there is no bottom. Move further into love and it reveals and invites you to deeper realizations ever waiting your capacity to love more purely as you learn - and I mean *learn* - patience, kindness, tenderness, and... basically, to be less of an idiot.
And you wonder how you came to be so lucky to be with such a one with whom your two mutual notes work in concert to strike melody and harmony.
Why is she at such peace and able to sleep through your hiccups from the whiskey as your belly momentarily shakes.
You hope you can give her everything she needs, and leave behind everything you and she don't. And find love at each step of the journey.
Published by Bring4th_GLB on December 3, 2014 4:26pm. Category: General
A bullet-point'esque summary of our wedding-funded honeymoon: the recently completed journey through Amazonian rainforests, Pacific coastal regions, and Andean highlands of Peru, along with time spent traveling swiftly through Earth's atmosphere ... in aisle seats:
Crossing paths with a beautiful mix of open-minded like hearts from fifteen different countries in a shared eight-day retreat in the jungle, each possessing the most sincere intention to learn, grow, and heal; undertaking work of a rather profound and serious nature in a context that was all love; establishing wonderful new friendships; having four ayahuasca ceremonies; one bobinsana ceremony; seeing real shamanism at work; monkeys; monkeys stealing gum and any other loose or improperly guarded personal items; watching Trish wear a twelve-foot anaconda like a shawl (picture forthcoming); tropical birds and smiling sloths; gaining total admiration watching Trish in the face of a truly massive disappointment marshal her will in the resolve to learn, grow, and make the best of an experience during the retreat; collective vomiting; an eight-day diet of no salt/oils/sugar and meat other than fish; driving through streets filled almost exclusively with motorized rickshaws; open-air bungalows; the fucking AMAZON RIVER!; stargazing into the night sky of the southern hemisphere on a concrete platform built upon a hilltop for just that purpose - seeing the Milky Way, the Southern Cross constellation, and an exploding meteor that traced across the sky with the brightness of a welder's torch before exploding; the shits - four straight days of the shits (also explosive);
...seeing yet more examples of the grassroots awakening happening around the planet; discovering the second instance of an organization and a work of similar strength, depth, and purity to the one whose lights called me to Louisville eleven years ago; witnessing mastery of craft; coca leaves and coca tea (non-narcotic at that level); briefly meeting with three indigenous tribes and exchanging t-shirts; Trish seriously getting hit on by the leader of the Bora tribe who invited her back to his "maloca"; freezing early morning flower baths; boobs - a la National Geographic style; opening to a possible future potential of my own path, not related to boobs, though;
...flying - lots of flying: Chicago, Lima, Iquitos, Lima, Cusco, Lima, Bogota, San Salvador, Chicago; time spent in Lima's posh Miraflores neighborhood; buffets for days; avoiding guinea pig on the menu; not flushing used toilet paper; free-roaming cats and dogs, including a city park with cats in trees, cats on benches, cats playing the guitar; dinner on a Pacific Ocean cliffside; meeting L/L's Spanish translator who happened to be in Peru on visit from Spain at the same time; mapacho; Incan (or perhaps ancient pre-Incan) ruins, including: Temple of the Sun, Tambomachay, Saqsayhuaman, Moray, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac; the Sacred Valley, so-called; the Urumbamba River running through said valley eventually emptying into the Amazon River; the salt mines of Moras;
...communicating with twenty or less Spanish words; repeating a mantra of "no gracias" to street vendors and fishers of men attempting to lure us into their respective restaurants; contemplating a human past that has more mystery than most might imagine; a struggle to the death with a bird-sized wasp-looking creature (spoiler: it lost); hiking up and down the steepest possible incline at Hyauna Picchu in the clouds and the rain; rough (by our comfort-inclined standards) hostels; soliciting police for assistance with my lost cell phone after a night of stress-laden anxiety; succeeding and bear-hugging said policeman with elation afterward;
...a random street artist appearing who, having overheard our conversation, endeavored to guide us to necessary component for chewing coca leaves; trusting said street artist; markets all day; adjusting to reduced-oxygen altitudes of 11,000+ feet; a drink at the world's highest 100% Irish-owned bar; an actual chocolate museum + gobs of free heavenly samples; not knowing what Peruvian music sounds like owing to hearing 80's pop music everywhere; chance re-encounters with newly made friends and acquaintances; hiking to the Sun Gate; spending 22,685 Columbian Pesos on chocolate!, that is to say, ten US dollars; splurging on an alpaca poncho at the Lima airport that will never have actual occasion to wear at home; listening to an Adele album five times over at a cafe at the same airport; wrapping our luggage in lime-green cellophane to protect its layover in Columbia;
...walking the cobblestone streets of Cusco - one of the world's most beautiful small cities in our not-so-well-traveled opinion; visiting another brilliant museum: Museo de Pisco, that is, a place dedicated to the Pisco Sour, Peru's incomparable national drink; consistent lack of sleep but generally high energy nonetheless; a tearful climactic culmination at one of the truly great Wonders of the World, the city in the sky, Machu Picchu; and falling in love with Trisha all over again.
Note: All of the above is true except for one item. There were no guitar-playing cats. Come on, that's ridiculous.*
Published by Bring4th_GLB on October 21, 2014 8:21pm. Category: General
I took Lana to the airport this morning with a stop at a café for a final conversation. Austin, myself and others all had quite the bonding time with this ambassador from Sweden. It was sad to see her go, especially as her departure marks the official end to the wedding festivities. What a weekend of magic and tangible perfection.
I will start by telling you that Trish and I wrote our ceremony from scratch. I was so excited by its content. We included concepts of consciousness, spiritual evolution, service, love and light, that we are each the one infinite Creator, and I even snuck a Ra passage in there! (The one about how we are all players upon a stage that is undergirded by the majesty of the One Creator. 104.26) I've been somewhat in the closet, so to speak, with people, especially family and old friends, who don't quite share my spiritual walk, so it was freeing and empowering to more fully share and communicate the content of my heart of hearts.
We were worried it might be too long, or it might not inspire or catch the attention, but on both accounts there was no need for concern. We received feedback filled with superlatives. Though it is difficult to really know because, as happens when parents have a baby, the only feedback you receive will be positive. But it the gratitude and the words all felt very genuine.
Beginning an hour prior to the Processional, the DJ played a selection of songs that Trish and I chose for those waiting in their seats, but the DJ unfortunately was using a free Spotify account (versus the paid kind), which means that Spotify commercials were inserted! It was to no loss, though, as it and a few other inevitable hiccups added to the humor and uniqueness of the event.
After the Processional concluded (Trish being escorted by her father to Elton John's "Your Song", and all of us before them walking to Coldplay's "Strawberry Swing"), we began our ceremony by breaking with convention and turning to face the 212 people in attendance. In most weddings, the bride and groom walk down the aisle, move through the rituals, and then depart with little to no interaction with those who came to share the event. Which is fine - there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that, but we wanted to make a connection to our loved ones, and to genuinely thank them for giving us the wedding with their presence.
We also thanked some of the most fundamentally important other selves in our lives, including our parents, my stepdad, and then Jim and Carla. We explained that our officiant, Ken Wendt, is a dear friend of ours with whom we share a common bond of open-hearted spirituality, and with whom I've hiked for miles and days through the mountains; and how he, through the Church of Latter Day Dude, came to receive an ordination as a dudeist priest. (Quite serious! It is an organization that grew out of The Big Lewboski.) Ken absolutely knocked it out of the park.
And we briefly provided some orientation, explaining that the ceremony was our own and that the significant work we invested into it was but a fraction of the work we would put into our relationship. We received so much love, and got quite a few laughs as we laced our very sincere and meaningful ceremony with lighthearted humor. (Balancing the meaningful and profound with the lightheart has been a style I've been crafting as L/L Research's administrator for some years, though not always to perfection.)
Carla was gracious enough to follow our intro and officially open the ceremony with a blessing. It felt so good to publicly honor Carla and Jim in front of so many loved ones for the gift they've offered me. It is through the environment they gave me that I've grown into and through adulthood.Quantum leaps from where I was when they first met me twelve years ago. So much more comfortable in my own skin and much more self-known. Being able simply to turn and address 200+ people so confidently (which isn't to say there wasn't huge anxiety leading up to the moment!) is something that would have been impossible just a few years ago, and is thanks in no small part to their contribution to my incarnation, along with lots of help from friends and family I've received along the way.
After Carla gave the opening, Trish and I underwent a Unity Candle ceremony to signify our intention to become one. Trish found some beautifully crafted candles on Etsy that, it would so happen, were created and shipped from a woman in Israel, and the Unity Candle rested on an embroidered piece of white fabric gifted and sent to us from Micheline in Belgium, a dear friend and the French translator of the Law of One who had had this in her family for over a century.
Following that was a short reading by one of my best friends and "groomsman", Jessica, and another short reading by my awesome sister Noelle who I actually had read Q'uo! (Identified as such as well.) Then a Hand Fasting ceremony whereby Ken, our officiant, wrapped differently colored ribbons around Trisha's and my joined hands. Each ribbon signified some ideal or principle to which we wished to commit our lives, including: Service, Responding to Suffering (with compassion and intent to help), Honory/Duty, Walking the High Road, Learning & Growing, the Open Heart, and Seeking the Creator. Each ribbon's significance was explained in the process.
Next a reading of Dr. Suess' "Oh the Places You'll Go" by one of Trisha's best friends and bridesmaids, Amanda. And then the exchange of Trisha's and my personal vows to each other in the risk of rain as a few drops hit us and everyone attending. Mine was heartfelt and got some laughs, but it was Trish who opened up everyone's heart very wide as she communicated with tears from a place of purity and loving devotion, reflecting on her own struggles in her life and her certainty just four years ago that, due to her medical condition, she would always be alone.
Sometime around here the mic's battery went out! Fortunately we had a back-up wireless headset that Ken was able to hold out for us when speaking.
Another hiccup smoothed over.
This was followed by Ken asking the ringmaster - Trisha's great five-year old nephew identified as "Jesse Marshall-Bingham Spiderman Peter Parker Iron Spider Chocolate Ice Cream Marshmallow w/Cherries on Top" - for the rings to be brought to the altar.
After we received the rings, Trish and I repeated in unison our vows read by Ken, and then placed the ring on each other's fingers. And finally the saying of the common legal vow, a kissing of bride and groom, a pronouncement of man and wife, and a turning to the audience as the DJ (in an adjacent courtyard) cued up the end credits theme song to Star Wars Episode 3!! (I edited the song to begin right at the moment the song pops into triumphant jubilation, and then faded it out a couple minutes later into the Cloud Atlas finale song.) IT WAS AWESOME. We held up our joined hands together in victory.
And the bride... my eyes have never seen anything more beautiful. Infinity could not have squeezed another speck of beauty into Trish. Our eyes were locked on one another nearly the whole time. She was beyond words. I am so in love with this other third-density self. I cannot believe my lucky stars for the opportunity to share a road with her, and to call my absolute number one best friend my "wife"! (What a strange word that still is on my tongue!)
We were hoping to get the ceremony finished within 35 minutes, but the whole thing, Processional and Recessional included, took about an hour! It seemed like it was ten minutes though. It however had the unfortunate effect of rushing the picture taking with family and the wedding party. But we got done in time for the most part and got the reception started just ten minutes late. As the wedding party filed in, the DJ said Trisha's name and my own for our best man and maid of honor, much to everyone's laughter. Then he lost Noelle's name, but this did not deter her. Without skipping a beat she made her entrance while pumping her fist into the air and chanting her name, trying to get everyone to join her, followed by a dance across the dance floor.
The reception, inside of a 40 x 120' tent, was an absolute blast, and felt like it went by in five minutes. Trisha's maid of honor, Lora, gave a speech that was honestly worthy of stand-up comedy... and probably was a stand-up routine as it must have clocked in at 20 minutes. She had everyone in stitches. And my best man, Steve, gave a speech that was hilarious and equally touching. The drinks were plenty and the playlist for the DJ we created had people on the dance floor throughout the night.
And the cakes were naturally gorgeous, being made as they were by the mother of the groom. She flew from Phoenix to Cleveland, made all the cakes there and then drove them to Louisville. Thank you, mom!
One of the absolutely most amazing and surreal things about the entire experience was how people from different sections of our life, who would never otherwise cross paths, were together in the same place, under the same tent. We were getting absolutely giddy in anticipation of that fact leading up to the wedding. Uncles and aunts, cousins, parents, siblings, one grandparent, school friends, spiritual friends. For the first time there was a real mixing of my old pre-Law of One life with the new L/L Research world of my adult life.
One of my greatest joys in life is seeing people I love, who don't know one another, meet, connect, and enjoy each other. I don't even need to participate. I am happy to step back and bear witness to their own connection forming. It makes me so damned happy to think that this person who I know is absolutely awesome, gets to meet this other person I know is likewise of super high awesome quotient. Among the connections made, my very dear friend Jeremy W. (who goes back to the beginning of my relationship with L/L Research) finally got to meet the likes of Austin, Ken, and Seph, and those three got to meet my parents and three siblings, and that group got to meet Jim and Carla, and.... and a hundred other combinations across the mixing of the bride and groom's side.
It was also beautiful that half of my own wedding party consisted of L/L people - including Austin, Sephira, and Steve E. who is both L/L's volunteer webmaster and my best man; our officiant Ken was of the L/L variety - we having met at Homecoming over four years ago; and a good number in attendance were of this demographic as well, including Fox, Brittany, Tobey, Sam, Eddie, Doug & Kim, and their significant others.
What I do as administrator is only a "job" in the superficial sense. It is more fundamentally a participation in spiritual family. So many of the people that both Trish and I love most on this planet, those who have given us the honor of being their friends, we have met through spiritual seeking and through this little organization known as L/L Research.
The wedding was love and light in human form. : )
AND NOW I'M MARRIED!!!!
The groom glowing as the bride approaches the altar, with the officiant in the background.