I am My Beloved's - Musings on the River

I can't even begin to describe how unpleasant the river is these days. It feels almost toxic. It smells pretty bad, and the surface of the water is covered with foam, debris, and remains of green algae and other invasive weeds and plants growing in the river. I hardly recognize this river that has sustained me, and truly realize that it is never the same river twice.

Though the river was somewhat repulsive to me when I visited it this morning, I still tried to see the beauty that had first drawn me to come inside this river. I thought of the river as somehow reflective of relationships in its various stages. There are times in our lives that our most cherished relationships suffer - and take incredibly different turns - heading down paths we might never have imagined - resulting in our greatest heartbreaks and disappointments.

This river has been beautiful - at times so very reminiscent of the springtime of a relationship. Sometimes it is in deep freeze, as it was this past winter, once more mirroring a different phase of our lives.

The river was inviting me to let go once again, and to go with the flow. Earlier in the morning I read these words in a blog titled, "A Gutsy Guide to Getting Your Mojo Back," by Lissa Rankin:

"Now, I go with the flow, and magic is happening. As long as I lie back, float on the river, and breathe in the lovely lavender scent of surrender, doors keep opening. What surprises me is that the doors are not necessarily ones I would have opened myself, yet the openings continue to lead to beautiful meadows of insight, peace and love I might never have explored. By surrendering and trusting the Universe, I leave room for the unexpected, and because I’m not so tired from struggling all the time, I have the energy to explore uncharted waters.

I could think of no truer words and I thought of this - and so much more as I recalled the beautiful wedding that I attended on Sunday. The bride, had been raised Catholic and she married a young Jewish man. The wedding was held outside, under a beautiful grove of trees.

The Rabbi was a wonderful young woman who did an excellent job explaining and translating the Hebrew for those of us not conversant in this ancient Biblical language. At various junctures, passages from the scriptures familiar to both Jews and Christians were incorporated.

I share these notes from the wedding program:

Please join us in this prayer of thanksgiving:
Blessed are you, our God who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.

Blessing of the Wine
The bride and groom will use the kiddish cup that the groom received at his bar mitzvah.

Vows and Exchange of Rings
The bride and groom will conclude their vows by repeating:
'ani l'dodi v'dodi lee,'
which means,
"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine,"
and comes from the Song of Songs.

Breaking of the Glass
When the groom stomps on the glass, it is traditional to shout:
'mazel tov,' meaning 'good luck' or 'congratulations!'

The chuppah or canopy, represents the home that the new couple will create together. It is open on all sides, symbolizing hospitality and allowing the couple's family and friends to support them. The canopy on the chuppah is from the bride's maternal great-grandmother's wedding dress. The bride's sister and her husband were married under the same canopy.

Breaking a glass is a traditional part of a Jewish wedding ceremony. There are many different interpretations of this ritual, but we view it as a way to remind us that joy and sorrow co-exist in our lives and world.

Following the ceremony, the newly married couple will go into yichud, or seclusion. Jewish custom calls for a newly married couple to spend a short time together alone, contemplating their marriage and celebrating privately."

I was very moved by the service - its simplicity and beauty, and the sheer joy of the occasion. A good time was had by all. It inspired this poem I wrote when I returned from the wedding:

I Am My Beloved's

“I am my beloved’s
and my beloved is mine…”

“Ani l’dodi v’dodi lee.”

An ancient longing arises
From the deepest crevice
Awakened within the soul,
And carried across oceans
And seasons and lifetimes

Such a beautiful verse
From the Song of Songs,
Spoken by lovers
United in soul and heart,
From time immemorial
To this present moment

Love given,
And Love received
Is never lost,
For all longing
And all Love
Is an expression
Of the Divine

“I am my beloved’s
and my beloved is mine…”

“Ani l’dodi v’dodi lee.”

Yes, now and until
The end of Time


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