Love is not a noun, it is a verb.
Today is our 4th wedding anniversary.
We got married on a small ranch in Helena, Montana on September 2, 2018 and each year we have a tradition of pausing to reflect on love.
We're sometimes shy about sharing our personal stories (we're getting better!), but in this time when so much in the world feels precarious and tender on the heartstrings, we felt inspired to share some thoughts with you on love.
First, our beautiful friend Michael (Mikey) Stjernholm officiated our ceremony. He opened with these words...
"Every human is on a journey (together and alone). We all came from somewhere different, we’re all going somewhere different. We’re all seeking out things that we want on this journey. Sometimes we don’t know what the heck we’re doing or where we’re going, and sometimes we get hit with DEEP clarity and things just click and make sense. Love is perhaps one of those things that just brings clarity."
Each September, we unearth this very important reminder that we share this unfathomable journey of independence and interdependence – with each other, and with all other beings on this earth.
We also reflect on the ways that love is perhaps the deepest and most sound rudder of all. When we quiet all of the shoulds, what-ifs, frustrations, confusions....all of the whacky noise of this modern life....all of sudden we can see clearly that it's actually profoundly simple.
Our purpose is to love and be loved.
At the same time, we are reminded that love is complex. Rena's mom Kay shared this story (at her brother's wedding) and we think of it every year during our anniversary because it points to something so very important.
"One of the biggest fights I ever had with my dear partner Tim was about the differences between a turnip and rutabaga. It happened in our kitchen in Springfield, Mass, in 1984. How could this question possibly turn into a giant argument? Hard to imagine? (well, maybe not!?) The point of this story: love is amazing—and it’s also goofy. Some of it is hard. And there’s a whole lot that’s really funny (sometimes it takes a while to get enough distance to see just how funny). It’s complicated and rich. Louise Erdrich describes love as “bulky and hard to carry, like a package that keeps untying.” I love her words. Love is a package deal. You’re gonna get some turnips and rutabagas. I want to recognize and celebrate this everyday, ordinary (and sometimes messy) love. It’s what most fundamentally creates who you become and, in turn, shapes the lives around you. That’s the real gift, the adventure of it."
Love is a package deal.
~ ~ ~
Ryan's parents Toni and Ron also shared an except from a letter written to them by Toni's mom Twila when they were married.
"Living with people is an opalescent art - set in self-acceptance, faceted with the beauties of originality and contrast, displayed with dignity, humor. Laugh, much and often. For laughter is a balm, it soothes and heals; it is a bridge over an abyss. When you face adversity, understand you have choices. Acceptance will give you the strength and purpose to find the solution. Together you can conquer any obstacle."
Love is an opalescent art.
Humor is good medicine.
You have choices. Always.
~ ~ ~
Ryan's niece and nephew (Gabby and Lucas) then shared a Seuss poem:
We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and we call it love.
You're weird. I'm weird.
Love is weird.
The word "weird" is weird!!! 😂
Weird is a part of what makes love beautiful.
May we remember to celebrate – not hide from – our weirdness.
~ ~ ~
Each year, we also re-read our vows (or "Jubilations & Commitments" as we called them in our ceremony). We picked a few words to share with you here...
RYAN: "I don’t know a lot. But I knew then as I know now that I love you more than I have loved anything in this world. I am in love with your ability to recognize and celebrate the fact that there are no small things in life. That in each moment this is where life is. Right here. Right now. Pouring your heart and mind into each person, place, project, thing. And despite your more prudent and sometimes reserved approach to new experiences, I love your willingness to suspend the need to "know" and to jump with arms wide open into the unknown. Even double back flipping out of a helicopter, free-falling into the unknown!"* RENA: "Perhaps above all, my love, you have taught me to enjoy the gift of this life in this moment. This whole R&R thing has really done me some good ;) You’ve helped me find a balance, ease and peace within myself that I did not know was possible. Our love feels like a safe harbor and simultaneously an exhilarating sailboat adventure. I don’t think we’d have it any other way. When you asked me to marry you, you said, 'Will you continue with me on this adventure into the unknown?' I have one word for you now: DEACACHIMBA."**
*After a few short months of dating, Ryan talked Rena into skydiving (aka, double back-flipping out of a helicopter) over the Swiss Alps. See also: CRAZY IN LOVE. 🤩
**Ryan and Rena first met in Nicaragua and a positive expression frequently used there is "Deacachimba" aka..."F*ck yea!!!"
Love teaches us there are no small things in life.
Love is a continuous free fall into the unknown.
In partnership, family-ship, friendship, and community...love is both a safe harbor and an exhilarating adventure.
~ ~ ~
As we all embark on this long holiday weekend – perhaps solo, or with friends or family – we wish for each of us the fullness and complexity of love:
May we find our way, together and alone. May we love and be loved. May we remember that love is a package deal. May we squabble about garden vegetables. May we allow humor to lighten our load. May we remember that we have choices, always. May we be weird. May we see that there are no small things in life. May we receive the beautiful gift of this very moment. May we live with our hearts wide open.
~ ~ ~
Mikey closed our ceremony with these immense words:
Love is not a noun, it is a verb that asks us every morning what we stand for.
We love you. We are so deeply grateful for you, our community.
Rena & Ryan
ps. THANK YOU for reading all the way to the bottom (now that's TRUE love!! 😉). We'd so enjoy hearing how this lands for you, and any reflections, jubilations, or thoughts you have on love. As time allows.....xoxo
pps. shout out to my brother and recreational potter Aven who gifted us the amazing, handmade Pause cups (in the photos). 😊🙌