by CSW Director Rob Field

“Mozel tov!”

By the time the groom stomped on the glass, kissed his bride, and everyone shouted the traditional Hebrew blessing, I was already in heaven. I had a close-up view, since I was the officiant for one of the most glorious weddings I’ve ever attended. And I was surprised by the joy that overtook me in the moment, as my throat tightened and a tear slid down my cheek.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who felt this way. The day was perfect: a crystal-blue October sky, a bride and groom so obviously well-suited for each other, and a gorgeous mountain lake as the backdrop for the Chuppah, decorated with flowers and greenery. The wedding wove together two spiritual traditions: the bride’s Christian heritage and the groom’s Judaism. The groom’s cousin explained the Ketubah (marriage covenant) and pronounced the Sheva Brachot (7-fold blessing) over the shared glass of wine. Drawing on my Christian background, I thought of Jesus at the wedding in Cana, enjoying the customs of his own Jewish upbringing.

After too many months of self-quarantine, masking, and “let’s not be more social than we have to be,” the wedding gave me a renewed appreciation for the value of joy in my life. The bride is my daughter’s closest friend from childhood, which meant I got to spend time with her and some of her best friends, all of whom are young adults now living away from Western N.C. My wife and I are friends with many people in attendance at the wedding, and we had a chance to see, converse, laugh, and celebrate along with them. And the mostly outdoors setting made it possible for us to enjoy each other’s company safely, without masks.

It’s one thing to know the importance of joy intellectually and affirm its power to raise our spirits. It’s another thing altogether to experience joy in its fullness, on a day when heaven feels so close you can almost touch it.

I close with a paraphrased excerpt from the beautiful loving-kindness practice of our Buddhist friends:

May all beings be happy and secure,

May all beings know the fullness of joy.


photo by Samantha Gades via Unsplash