Letters from Ananda members, Part 38

The Making of a Wedding
Marilyn Holm and Joe Begley

To all of our dear Gurubais,

We have received so many, many blessings throughout this past week, the kind of blessings, the kind of lessons, that Ananda is so adept at bestowing. We followed advice given to us by many friends, given to us both through example as well as through actual words.

We both took seclusion for the last few days leading up to our blessings on Wednesday evening. Joe went to Yosemite, to be in nature, to move through God’s beauty, high up under the sky. He climbed to the top of Half Dome, feeling the immensity of that huge rock, fulfilling a life-long dream. I stayed here in the Community, living in the moment, soaking in the vibration of this peaceful oasis, tying 135 teeny tiny ribbons through 270 itsy-bitsy holes of 135 leaflets; perhaps not a life-long dream, but a process I found to be very meditative and restful. Our seclusions brought a joy and devotion that was perfect for the time. Who would have thought?

Each of us went to our individual blessing with expectations of love and grace, and yet experienced something greater than our imaginations could have foretold. The blessings of God and Guru that came through each of you was overwhelming, not to be believed by the mind, but felt keenly by the heart, even now, thinking back and reaching to recapture that joy. Who would have thought?

Thursday was a day of service, creating flowers for our families to wear during the wedding, helping them to feel a part of the ceremony, sharing in the beauty of the day. Asha had suggested a picnic by the pool for Thursday evening, and we loved the informality and light-heartedness of the idea. It was a relaxed time for all of our three families to meet; Joe’s family got to meet mine, and they both got to meet all of you. The P.G. Wodehouse reading was inspired and delightful, enhanced by the subtle modifications introduced by Matthew’s intrepid troupe. And sharing cake in the moonlight. . . Magical. Who would have thought?

And the morning of the wedding, so many devotees rising early to join in meditation, Joe’s singing of “Oh, Master”, the spectacular beauty of the sanctuary, of the flowers, of the altar, Swami’s glorious music, Asha’s heartfelt talk, David’s heartfelt agreement, each of the ceremonies, the beauty of the vows, the shower of rose petals . . .Who would have thought?

Our vedic time for saying our vows was 8:26 – 8:41 am. I have no idea what time it was, when the words actually were voiced, the deed done. But as Joe and I were sitting up there, an energy formed around us, coalescing gently as each step proceeded, as each song was sung. Our marriage began in that loving, blessed energy that swayed around us, rich with Swami’s presence, full of light and love. That blessed energy stayed with us throughout the weekend, gelling into a glorious beauty that is with us still. Who would have thought?

Breakfast was full of light and laughter. The tables were beautiful, the flowers were magnificent, all of your faces were filled with joy. Our families gloried in Ananda’s ray. The weather was perfect, bliss abounded, the goodbye song sent us safely on our way . . . Who would have thought?

Sharon Brooks organized and directed everything with love, and gentleness, and good humor. Months ago, when we started to talk about all of this, the idea of an organizer made so much sense; someone to help with details, to take the last-minute stress onto her own shoulders, freeing Joe and I to spend time grinning at each other in happy anticipation. But what we hadn’t realized, until we lived through it, was that the true gift that Sharon bestowed was the gift of inwardness. We would not have been able to take seclusion. We would not have been able to spend time in stillness, listening to our hearts. We would not have been able to bring such deep, inner devotion into the sanctuary Friday morning.

And Sharon could not have done what she did so beautifully, if it had not been for each and every one of you. The flowers, the singing, the food, the joy, the blessings and love that powered each moment. . . All of you gave Joe and me a gift beyond measure. As we moved through the week, and especially as we stepped into that sanctuary, greeted by song, your love and your devotion, your joy and light, the love from God and Guru that you channeled so divinely, it was you, that brought us down the aisle, and formed that energy into which we could step to begin our marriage.

Who would have thought?

Our hearts overflow with love and gratitude for Swamiji, who taught all of us how to do this, who taught all of us how to be good devotees, who taught all of us how to come together, in Community, to create something as blessed as these wedding celebrations have been. Our hearts overflow with love and gratitude for all of you, who have learned these lessons so well, for the deep gifts that you have given us. We are truly blessed.

Joe and Marilyn live in the Ananda Community in Palo Alto, California and were married in August of 2001, to the joy of hundreds of friends. Joe teaches meditation and serves on staff with Ananda Palo Alto, and Marilyn is a consultant clinical research scientist in the pharmaceutical industry.