Sometimes we go through our days and forget to truly celebrate moments that have been turning points. Sometimes these are points along a continuum, part of the great big ripple effect that makes you who you are. Today I celebrate one of those days. You see June 26th would have been my parent’s 45th wedding anniversary. My Mom passed away earlier this month so instead of a time of celebration we all remain quite squarely in grief where tears come far more readily than smiles as we remember her. Yet I couldn’t let this year’s milestone pass without celebrating the uncommon act of courage by my Mom and Dad which enabled us to be a family of three and frankly allowed me to come into being at all.
The year was 1965 and they had been high school sweethearts for years and wanted to wed. There was only one problem – religion. The rules of the road and strongly held beliefs that can divide families, communities, and nations. I’m not talking about spirituality here, I’m talking about the man-made rules in churches that divide people’s souls. That create conflict where otherwise there would only be love. You can see the scene unfold: my Dad’s family – strict Catholics. My Mom’s family – Protestant. Never shall the two meet in happy matrimony.
In many cases today (but not all!) blended families are much easier to form. In 1965 that was not the case. Each family vehemently refused to step foot in the “other” church. The situation felt so impossible, in fact, that they literally thought it could never be so they separated for a few months. Miserable without each other and feeling despondent at not being able to be together, they realized that making a choice only to satisfy someone else would create only a life of regret. So, Love prevailed and they decided they would elope.
When you think of eloping today, you don’t think of a radical act. At least I don’t. I think of two people for whatever reasons deciding to fore go the stress, family conflict, or expense of a wedding, and choose to get married in a simple way. When I think back to what it must have been like 45 years ago and the conservative families my parents came from I see a tremendously courageous and radical act. A decision made (and certainly not likely) to put love before fear. To choose an authentic path for themselves no matter what. An act of courage worthy of celebration.
From the stories I have heard, there was clearly tension when they broke the news, but over the many years the families came to respect one another. Perhaps this melding was possible because of the utmost respect each of my parents had for each other and their own beliefs and traditions. I know I never felt anything but love and openness from both of them when it came to my own spiritual path and periodic religious choices along the way.
For many years I never gave this historic choice point much of a thought. I only ever knew my parents as happily married, that they had eloped, and our families as a typical blending of famliies. Yet a few years ago when my Mom and I talked about it, it started to really sink in – the truly powerful choice they made. The radical act it was. And, the sheer degree of discomfort that each of them had to have felt as they made a choice that was right for them but that would make those they loved displeased (at least initially). It isn’t always comfortable to choose love over fear; to choose what is right for your higher good. You must choose anyway if you want to live fully and authentically.
What acts of true courage have you made that you gloss over and forget to celebrate? I invite you to celebrate them now.
What choices do you need to make right now (even if they might be unpopular or radical) so you can live fully the life you most want to live? I invite you to name them and claim them(and if you need support doing so, contact me).
Step into your own courage… it might not be comfortable, but it will certainly be beautiful and for your highest good.