Monday, May 5, 2008

Bring on the Passion

As soon as I read it, I knew it was true: "People experience success based on what they do or fair to do."  The thing is, I realize my tendancy not to think this way. I give too much weight to circumstances or to what I think are my intrinsic limitations - but I don't automatically take a good, hard look at myself as the biggest determining factor in success.  So, I have this quotation on the bulletin board in front of me as I work. It's the daily reminder that I need. Along these lines, I just read a helpful article by Max Kalehoff – entitled Why Passion Matters. He doesn't ease into his topic: "In a hyper-competitive market, competence is expected and only flawless execution is tolerable. But that’s no longer enough. Today, the ultimate competitive advantage is passion." I recommend this article to all my officiant friends who, like me, are working to constantly "step up their game."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Who's Getting Married?

I myself am getting married this year in July - a small restaurant in Rockville Centre on Long Island - informal, less traditional, and hopefully, less expensive! Anyway, after conducting close to 500 weddings, you'd think that I would understand what couples are going through as they plan their weddings! After all, I meet with most of them, and I always ask how they met, how they got engaged, how the wedding planning is going, etc. But I discovered what I should have realized already, that there is no substitute for experiencing something yourself! Now I'm the one asking the vendors "How much?" too soon in the conversation. I'm the one who shoves all the wedding planning papers into one big envelope (and where IS that envelope?) Now we're the ones who don't have a venue six months before the ceremony - and who keep having nightmares that go something like this, "Wait, did we get the wedding license?" (said as the bridal party gathers at the church) No wonder so many couples forget to prepare for the marriage itself! Now I understand. So, couples, you have my sympathy, my empathy, and whatever else might be left of me when this is over. I just keep repeating that quote from Herman Melville, "A smooth sea never made a successful sailor." I'm sure that applies.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Marriage and Ego

In one of my wedding homilies, I remind everyone of the well known saying, "You can be right, or you can be happy.", and then I say, "It's never so true as in marriage. If you insist on keeping score, on being vindicated, on preserving your dignity - you very well may fail in love." This preaches well, but these behaviors seem second nature to most of us. After all, if we don’t keep score, won’t we leave ourselves in a weak position? And who among us doesn’t want to be vindicated and proven right? And why not at the very least determine to protect our dignity? And yet these behaviors stamp out love. Don’t get me wrong, marriage is not about being a pleaser, a pushover or a doormat. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I’m talking about being led around by the nose by my ego – which controls me by fear, so that whether I speak up or shut up, I’m doing it out of fear and not out of love. I like what Vincent Roazzi says in his book The Spirituality of Success, “If you do not have a plan for your ego, it will have a plan for you. You can be the master of your ego or you can be its slave. It’s your choice.” If I’m circling the wagons – either to protect myself, or in preparation for a fight – then I’m being dominated by my ego – by my innate desire not to be hurt. Let me lash out, let me withdraw into my cave – anything but speaking up or standing up in love. If I let the walls go up, I protect myself from hurt, but I also keep myself from love. The first course feels safe and familiar. The second course feels foreign and frightening. In choosing it, I determine to love without regard to how I may be hurt. I drop my defenses and refuse to play games. There is no guaranteed outcome, but what occurs is the possibility of a deeper human connection. I need this, and so does my partner or friend, but it’s counterintuitive and so very uncomfortable. In the Psalms it says of God’s compassions that “they are new every morning.” Among other things I take this to mean that with each new day I receive a clean slate to give this another try. That’s what I need. It’s a long learning curve. Maybe today I’ll do better.

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Pastor Bill serves families in the Greater New York area including Long Island (Nassau County and Suffolk County), Queens, Brooklyn, New York City (Manhattan), and Westchester County. If you’re thinking of using a Judge for your wedding, or a Justice of the Peace – or if you’re thinking of going to city hall for your wedding – or perhaps you’re working on a last minute wedding plan – in any case, Pastor Bill would love to speak with you. Pastor Bill is also available for families that have suffered the loss of a loved one and are planning a funeral.

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