October 10, 2002, Episode Twenty-One: I Do

We chose the title of this show, First Person, Plural, for two reasons.  First, we wanted to talk about social issues, and social is plural Ė it involves two or more people.  Second, we wanted to do a show together as a team.  In our married life, we have come to recognize that we complement each other in many ways.  We enjoy each otherís company.  We donít always see the world the same way, but we respect each otherís points-of-view.  We are First Person, Plural. 

So it seems fitting that we celebrated our togetherness on the air as this episode was initially broadcasted on our tenth wedding anniversary, October 10th, 2002.

Because we are who we are, we began our celebration with sociologist Connie Shehan.  Dr. Shehan is a family sociologist at the University of Florida who edits the Journal of Family Issues and who has co-authored a textbook, Marriages and Families:  Reflections of a Gendered Society, which will have a new edition come out later this year. She talked about why a sociological perspective was important if we were to understand the nature of marriages and families and how families interacted with the larger society.

Then we talked with Gordon and Joyce Cunningham.  This Victoria couple has been married for 59 years.  Yes, you heard right Ė next year they will be celebrating 60 years together, and they are still going strong.  They talked about their life together and shared some words of wisdom with a young couple who had only 10 years under their belts.

Finally, we presented an audio album of our wedding.  We wish we could have shown you the pictures, but we thought sharing some of our memories, including poetry and song, would be more entertaining than seeing pictures of people you didnít know.


This is our tenth wedding anniversary. Since we cannot share pictures of our wedding over the radio, we decided to share our memories of the day.


We gathered with our friends at a park in St. Petersburg, Florida, on a beautiful October Saturday and had a potluck picnic. We played games and ate great food and were creatively lazy all afternoon. As sunset drew near, we asked our friends to gather around on the ground and we sat down with our closest friends, Howard and Peggy, nearby so they could witness our vows and stand up for us as a couple. Our niece Kristal also participated.


Our friend Bob, an ordained minister who presided over the ceremony began our wedding with these words:

In ancient lore, there existed a bird that was reborn from its own ashes. Instead of dying, the legend says, it made a nest of strong, exotic spices and herbs on the top of a palm tree, set it on fire and died. From the burned body of the first bird, a young Phoenix issued forth.

The symbol of the phoenix is one of becoming whole and new from the ashes of one's own life. Most beings spring from other individuals, but there is a certain kind that comes from within, not from another.


Ten years ago today, we gathered with our friends and family to celebrate life and rebirth. We both had had experience with ashes. We both had seen our lives turn to ashes and from that bottom chose a new life that was more full of hope than the previous one. Just as the new phoenix must start again as a youth, so did we have to begin again as babes.


Ten years ago today, we began a new part of our lives. We have learned since then that being together meant renewing our lives over and over again. We have had additional experience with ashes in the past 10 years, only this time, we have risen together and it seems that each bottom gets a little higher as we learn to play and enjoy life together.


Our friend Peggy read Love Song by Rainer Maria Rilke:

How shall I hold my soul that it may not 
Be touching yours? How shall I lift it then 
Above you to where other things are waiting? 
Ah, gladly would I lodge it, all forgot, 
With some lost thing the dark is isolating 
On some remote and silent spot that, when 
Your depths vibrate, is not itself vibrating. 
You and me - all that lights upon us, though, 
Brings us together like a fiddle-bow 
Drawing one voice from two strings it glides along. 
Across what instrument have we been spanned? 
And what violinist holds us in his hand? 
O sweetest song.


Our niece, Kristal, read these words from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians:

Love is patient. 
Love is kind. 
It does not envy. 
It does not boast, 
It is not proud. 
It is not rude. 
It is not self-seeking. 
It is not easily angered. 
It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects always trusts, always hopes, 
Always perseveres. 
Love never failsÖ

And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. 
But the greatest of these is Love.


Ten years ago today, we said these words to each other:


You and I met as strangers each carrying a mystery within us. I may never know who you are. I may never know you completely. But I trust that you are a person in your own right, possessed of a beauty and value that are earth's richest treasures. So, I renew this promise to you. I will impose no identities upon you. I will invite you to become yourself without shame or fear. I will hold a space for you in the world and defend your right to fill it with an authentic vocation. For as long as your search takes, you have my loyalty. So I take you, to be my partner in life. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and cherish one day at a time. I give you my trust and all my tomorrows.

[CARL]: Ten years ago today, I sang you this song.


What a dream I had 
Pressed in Organdy 
Clothed in Crinoline 
Of smoky burgundy 
Softer than the rain

I wandered empty streets down 
Past the shop displays 
I heard cathedral bells 
Tripping down the alleyways 
As I walked on

And when you ran to me, your 
Cheeks flushed with the night 
We walked on frosted fields of 
Juniper and lamplight 
I held your hand.

And when I awoke and 
Felt you warm and near 
I kissed your honey hair 
With my grateful tears 
Oh, I love you, girl. 
Oh, I love you. 

                                [For Emily Whenever I May Find Her -lyrics and music by Paul Simon] 


Our friend Howard read excerpts from Kahlil Gibran's The Life of Love as Found in Tears and Laughter:


Come, my beloved: let us walk amidst the knolls, 
For the snow is water, and Life is alive from its 
Slumber and is roaming the hills and valleys. 
Let us follow the footprints of Spring into the 
Distant fields, and mount the hilltops to draw 
Inspiration high above the cool green plains.

Come my beloved, let us drink the last of Winter's 
Tear from the cupped lilies, and soothe our spirits 
With the shower of notes from the birds, and wander 
In exhilaration through the intoxicating breeze. 
Let us sit by that rock, where violets hide; let us 
Pursue their exchange of the sweetness of kisses.



Let us go into the fields, my beloved, for the 
Time of harvest approaches, and the sun's eyes 
Are ripening the grain. Let us tend the fruit of the earth, as the 
Spirit nourishes the grains of Joy from the 
Seeds of Love, sowed deep in our hearts.



Let us retreat, for the tired brook has 
Ceased its song; and the bubblesome springs 
Are drained of their copious weeping; and 
The cautious old hills have stored away 
Their colourful garments. Come, my beloved; 
Nature is justly weary 
And is bidding her enthusiasm farewell 
With quiet and contented melody.



Come close to me, oh companion of my full life; 
Come close to me and let not Winter's touch 
Enter between us. Sit by me before the hearth, 
For fire is the only fruit of Winter.

Feed the lamp with oil and let it not dim, and 
Place it by you, so I can read with tears when 
Your life with me has written upon your face. 
Bring Autumn's wine. Let us drink and sing the 
Song of remembrance to Spring's carefree sowing, 
And Summer's watchful tending, and 
Autumn's Reward in harvest.

copyright by Pattie Thomas and Carl Wilkerson 2002


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