Handfasting, an Invitation and Fulfilling a Prediction [The Art of Surrender]
In thinking about my handfasting, I go back over 50 years ago to a trip to Yugoslavia, into what is now Serbia. I was a young man on my first extensive trip abroad. I stayed with Mama Lepa, my sister-in-law's mother.
One morning I met an old friend of Mama Lepa's who told my fortune using beads. I remember little about it apart from the prediction that I would be married three times. I found this strange at the time and thought it nonsense. But it lead to my _handfasting_.
Handfasting - Who did I marry and why?
Nearly 40 years ago I married and thought no more of the prediction until I divorced in the last 5 years. It came back to me and made me wonder. Just over a week ago I married again and on the evening of our wedding day I realised that this day was being predicted all those years ago.
But that's twice, you are thinking! I'll get to that.
Cheta Urmila (now Urmila Phoenix) is the light of my life and my constant companion in work and travel. We love doing the same things and we have so much in common.
We love each other and, more importantly, we have a relationship of polarity. This polarity is at the core of who we are and how we are with each other. It infuses how we approach each day and how we spend time together.
We are each other's life and joy.
We have found that since we decided to marry, last July, our relationship has become stronger and deeper. The element of private and public commitment has been an enormous boost. The wedding day itself is a culmination of this both publicly and privately.
What did we do and why?
We had two wedding days, one private and one public; the balance between the two was crucial to us.
The first day we went to Stonehenge at 5am to conduct a handfasting, literally to 'tie the knot'. This was a very personal service, there was just the two of us, in a place of phenomenal energy and power. The sun rose through the mist a new day and a new life was born for us. In the ceremony we said,
Above us are the stars.
Below and around us are the stones.
May the Sun bring us energy by day.
May the moon softly restore us by night
May the Rain wash away our worries.
May the breeze blow new strength into our being,
And all the days of our life
May we walk gently through the world and know its' beauty.
We are two persons, but there is only one life before us.
We go now to our future, enter into the days of your life together.
May our days be good and long upon the earth.
A happy marriage is a lifetime of falling in love!
The next day we started with the legal ceremony at the Registry Office in Ely, Cambridgeshire. This created a union in law and was, for other people when we were actually married. This was an intimate and very moving ceremony. It was simple and direct. In it we used a reading of 'Aloneness' by Osho,
The capacity to be alone
is the capacity to love.
It may look paradoxical to you
but it is not,
It is an existential truth.
Only those people who are capable of being alone
are capable of love,
of going in to the deepest core of the other person,
without possessing the other,
without becoming dependent on the other,
without reducing the other into a thing and
without becoming addicted with the other.
They allow the other absolute freedom
because they know
if the other leaves
they will be as happy
as they are now.
Their happiness cannot be taken by the other
because it is not given by the other.
Then why do they want to be together?
It is no more a need, it is a luxury.
They enjoy sharing,
they have so much joy
they would like to pour in to somebody.
They know how to play
their life as a solo instrument,
the solo flute player knows
how to enjoy his flute alone
and if he comes and finds
a solo tabla player,
they both will enjoy to be together
and to create a harmony
between the flute and the tabla.
Later that day we went to Ely Cathedral for a Blessing of our Marriage. This was an awe-inspiring occasion which just blew us away. The majesty and wonder of that building was such a great setting fro the last of three ceremonies. We chose it because I created the lighting for it many years ago, it's power continued for me.
I read an extract from 'The Dance' by Oriah,
I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don't jump up and shout, Yes, this is what I want! Let's do it!
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.
Tell me a story of who you are,
And see who I am in the stories I am living.
Together we will remember that each of us always has a choice
And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept
the clear, healthy boundaries that help us live side by side with
each other, let us risk remembering
that we never stop silently loving those we once loved out loud.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places
where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead
make my heart whole again and again.
Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness
and our undeniable belonging
Dance with me in the silence
and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.
And when the sound of all the declarations
of our sincerest intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next
great inhale of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.
Don't say, Yes!
Just take my hand and dance with me.
Handfasting - Thrice Married
That evening I was joking to friends about our three ceremonies, then it hit me... Thrice married...
Finally all is revealed...
Surrender is the Tenderest Impulse of the Heart
But that all came about through accepting surrender. Surrender is being alert to exactly what is happening now, not in the past. Surrender as a spiritual practice shows a depth of knowledge and understanding of yourself that is undeniable.
It is common to see relationships as battlegrounds where couples act out their needs and desires. Relationships are where people most often seek to control another person. Relationships fail more often than they succeed because people try to manipulate them into what they want.
Your Most important Relationship
When did you last look with detachment at your intimate or most important relationship? When did you last honestly appraise it and work out what it really means to you? Have you ever done this with compassion and understanding?
Spiritually, no action is more important than surrender. Surrender is the tenderest impulse of the heart, acting out of love to give whatever the beloved wants. Surrender is being alert to exactly what is happening now, not imposing expectations from the past. Surrender is faith that the power of love can accomplish anything, even when you cannot foresee the outcome of a situation.
Being In Control
I was married, previously, for thirty years without ever honestly looking at my relationship. I never considered what it meant to me and I think if I had i would have left it earlier.
I was trying to be in control, as was my wife, and we fought it out for years with no-one winning out in the end.
Have you been there? Are you there now? Do you see a way out?
Time To Let Go
It's time to let go, time to surrender. This is not considered to be a very masculine thing to do. Letting go of control is considered to be more of a feminine quality. Indeed it is one of the qualities that most defines femininity. When a woman surrenders to herself and her impulses she finds she can start to trust others in her life, particularly her man. Trust is what she looks for in a man, trust is why she constantly tests her man.
For a man to surrender is considered to be a loss of face, the ultimate insult. Albert Einstein said,
If men as individuals surrender to the call of their elementary instincts, avoiding pain and seeking satisfaction only for their own selves, the result for them all taken together must be a state of insecurity, of fear, and of promiscuous misery.
John McCain said,
Do not yield. Do not flinch. Stand up. Stand up with our President and fight. We're Americans. We're Americans, and we'll never surrender. They will.
It's so simple being an American, just fight to the death and you will die honourably!
But, as Deepak says at the beginning,
... no action is more important than surrender.
Surrender as a spiritual practice shows a depth of knowledge and understanding of yourself that is undeniable. It shows a care and compassion for the other person that is deep and meaningful. To be able to give up control shows a love of the other that sets you apart.
The ability to stand firm in the face of your enemies is a masculine quality but the ability to surrender in the face of love is a simple human quality. Would that we could all see our human qualities.