Choose well, and choose what you chose again 2


I officiated at the wedding of friends earlier this month. The bride and groom wrote their own vows and the ceremony, and they invited me to share some thoughts about love and marriage in the middle. What follows is a paraphrase of what I said, with more of my story and less about the bride and groom than was in their ceremony on their day.

Cullen and Jessica's wedding

“Before” at the wedding

After choosing a great partner, our next choice is to choose the marriage, over and over again.

The big events are easy: the right choice is obvious. For instance, when Dave had an opportunity to move to England for work, I took a year of detached study from graduate school and went with him. When I worried about not being with my dad ahead of an operation, Dave said, “why don’t you just go?” So I did.

A lifelong marriage contains a few big events and hundreds of thousands of small moments: little interactions, in person, on the phone, in email, via text…In those little moments we have a choice of how to respond to what happens to us and between us.

The good news is that we don’t have to choose perfectly, enough good choices make a marriage resilient.

My blessing for my friends was that they continue to choose each other, that they have the experience Wendell Berry articulates in this poem:

The Wild Rose

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart,

suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once more I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.


“The Wild Rose” is available in Entries as well as in The Collected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1957-1982.

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