the other day i happened upon a post by author dani shapiro. i’d been feeling pretty down about all that’s been going on south of the border. we were on vacation, and i was just in a slump as a new president was sworn in and new orders began taking effect. feeling helpless, i even posted on facebook asking what we canadians could do to support our friends who were expressing such despair and felt such division. then i was reminded that even our own country is not immune to such devastation either.
i wondered what my place could be in all of this. i just take photos at people’s weddings. what do i do when there are far more serious matters at stake?
“…there is another kind of protest, another way of refusing to succumb to despair. and so we sit down to write. we ignore the inner voice telling us that there’s no point, it doesn’t matter. we grapple with the problems of the spirit, of the human heart and all it contains. it matters more than ever.” — dani shapiro, on doing what we can.
most weekends we have the privilege of watching two people commit to being each others partner. they promise to move ahead as one, often having come together from very different upbringings, backgrounds & cultures. being an immigrant to canada, as well as the child of an inter-race, inter-faith marriage, i’ve seen firsthand how life expands when we’re given opportunities to be with people wildly different than ourselves. even between dave & i, we know after 10+ years together that our strength comes from the ways in which we are different from each other. it’s what makes life interesting, colourful, worth it. these issues of immigration, race, diversity, fear of ‘the other’…. they’re close to me on a personal level. one of my grandmas reads me passages from her bible and says ‘thank you lord for good food!’ before each meal; with the other, we figure out which direction is east and set up her prayer mat.
canada is a land of immigrants and we celebrate that. these past seven years have been full of beauty.
we’ve watched families drape colourful blankets across the shoulders of the bride, welcoming her into the family as per kenyan tradition. we’ve watched a mother-in-law’s eyes tear up as she sees her son’s new wife wearing the sari she wore to her own wedding, many years before. we’ve watched irish parents get teary-eyed while being served tea during a traditional chinese tea ceremony. we’ve seen inter-race and inter-faith parents watch as their children continue to blend new traditions and cultures into their family’s mosaic. we’ve seen bagpipers lead the processional & we’ve seen crowns placed on the couples’ heads. we’ve been caught up in the rush of the hora, we’ve watched the veil and cord be bound around catholic filipinos & we’ve watched a dukhna ceremony at an ismaili muslim wedding. we’ve been welcomed into homes to celebrate pithi and menhdi celebrations & we’ve watched christians raise their hands in song. we’ve participated in a japanese sake ceremony & played the door games common in the chinese culture, once at the very same wedding. we’ve listened to countless speeches recounting humbling and inspiring stories of immigration to canada.
what we’ve found is a sacred common ground.
we’ve found there is always such beauty in being welcomed into a tradition that’s not your own. we begin to see that it all has a common thread despite seeming so different.
weddings show us these basic human desires, these common things we all strive for and that make us all one and the same, no matter where we come from. what do we want, really? a table crowded with enough food and enough smiles to keep us warm. kids who are happy, thriving. a commitment to belonging to the same team. an outstretched hand, and in turn, our own hand outstretched.
inspired by this post by our friend taylor roades.