There is this story that my mom tells about Tobin. She is maybe three years old, and she is driving in the car with my mom. It’s quiet, and from the backseat Tobin breaks the silence and asks “what comes first: God or Love?” I envision Rosemary, her hands gripping the steering wheel, wondering how to explain the big things of life to a three year old. She answers: “well, God is Love.” I imagine Tobin, the straps of her car seat pressing her down, nodding and thinking. “So, first it’s God, then it’s Love and then Gravity.” She declares. God, Love and Gravity. Tobin was deeply thoughtful then, and wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, and that has not changed.
Tobin and Mike: You are both deeply thoughtful. I’ve been inspired in conversations with you both to dig down into the nitty-gritty of life, and I love the way you are not afraid to use your minds. It is with true consideration that you are entering into this marriage, and I’ve never questioned the conviction you feel about choosing each other. But there’s so much more to you, too. We need only to remember your “Save the Date” video to see some of the ways that you radiate joy, playing and laughing together. You know when not to take yourselves seriously. In your company, even mundane tasks become fun.
And I’m sure that most of us here know first hand the giving spirit that you both have. I have been the recipient countless times of this generous love, and I’ve watched as you give of yourselves selflessly to others. The cool thing is that while you both do this on your own, when combined with the giving heart of the other, the effect is exponentially multiplied (see what I did there, Mike? That’s some math-talk for you). By you guys choosing each other, and together loving others, this goodness spreads. You are making this world a better place.
I don’t think that Tobin was wrong: God, Love and Gravity. In a way, this love for each other, this choosing each other, is a type of gravity. It’s not that kind of gravity that ties you down, anchored and pining for flight, but instead it’s the kind of magnetism that pulls you to each other. Tobin and Mike, you are grounded in each other now, and the true gift is that you will be the resting place for the other – a place to take sanctuary, to find peace, to offer peace. You have chosen each other wisely, knowingly. You’ve already been together through the stuff that makes life, life, and by now you know that it’s better together than apart. You are, and will be, peace for each other.
I have this particular memory. It’s this perfect puzzle piece memory, small and indiscriminate, but it just fits this spot in my heart just right. Tobin and I are both in high school, probably our freshman and junior years. We are on a family ski trip in Vermont, though I think by this time in her life, Tobin had switched to snowboarding. And the memory is nothing more than this: racing each other down ski trails and belting out, as loud as we could, this Indigo Girls song “Get Out the Map” (I will spare y’all the musical rendition, as anything in which a tune is involved is better left to Tobin). And that’s it. That’s the memory – it’s small, but perfect, and to this day anytime I hear that song, I’m right back at Okemo, racing you down that mountain.
“Get out the map get out the map and lay your finger anywhere down
We’ll leave the figuring to those we pass on our way out of town”
Here’s what I offer you now, as a toast:
You’ve got your hiking shoes on, now and you’re getting out that map. Together, you’ll pull out your compass, plot your course. But of course there will be detours you didn’t see coming. There will be blocked paths, and sand pits. You’ll set off on these adventurous climbs, hikes through terrain real and metaphoric. You’ll find traps, and high mountains thick with bramble, stinky swamps, and treacherous cliffs. You’ll get to those places where you’ll have to make a choice: and you’ll chose one another again and again, saying yes in the hard places, with your legs and hearts stretched and aching, so that you can say yes to the view: the cliff, the span, the panorama of this ledge living. As your big sister, I’d love to hand you my worn map – highlight the can’t miss scenery, steer you clear of the poison ivy. But this much I know: each map is different. Each marriage is different. You and Mike get to figure this one out together, and that is one heck of an adventure.
While we don’t share the same map, and our paths will be different, I eagerly look forward to the many places where our trails meet. I am eager to keep company with you, out on these trails. We’ll share granola bars, and swap stories. Because, Tobin, “we’re sisters; we share”
*** This was the toast that I gave this past weekend after I had the privlege of standing next to my sister, Tobin, when she married her Michael. And then we celebrated! ****