40th Anniversary and Renewal of Vows

Saturday - February 3, 2001

Order of The Ceremony

Altar - Table with white tablecloth
  • Vase with 2 flowers: Chrysanthemum and Red Rose
  • Temple bell
  • Crystal goblet, crystal pitcher of water

(Barbara & Gordon come to altar in front of group - both face group.)

Temple Bell (to start ceremony) - Jenny

Statement of Intention - Jenny
On behalf of Barbara & Gordon, I welcome all of you here today. My name is Jenny Ruhl, and Gordon & Barbara have honored me by asking me to officate at ths evening's ceremony. They first came to know me as a college friend of their son's, and through some unexpected twists and turns, I have evolved to fit the unlikely monikker of "Nagai family minister." I have had the great pleasure of officiating at both Paul & Tori's, and then Diana & Chris' weddings, and Barbara & Gordon decided to keep it all in the family - so here I am once again.

This evening a community that has been together many times, in may forms, over the years gathers anew. So it is with a sense of familiarity and comfort that we come together as witnesses, and celebrants.

40 years ago to the day, Gordon & Barbara took their wedding vows. The crowd gathered with them today is different from the one at the Trinity Methodist Church in Berkeley. And, I'm struck by the image that while the family and community has shifted and changed and grown, their love and commitment to each other is the constant thread that has remained from that long ago ceremony.

Their love, shaped by their lives together, has also shifted and changed and grown. And today we take a pause to mark the vows that were given, to celebrate the fruits of those vows, and to hear Barbara & Gordon recommit themselves to each other in the presence of their community.

They could have had a small gathering. But as I listened to their ideas about the ceremony, it became evident to me that this would not be taking place were it not in the context of their community - all of you. Barbara said: "It takes a village to have a marriage," and you - their family, friends, and work community - have been that village for them. Your participation in tonight's celebration is a necessary ingredient that gives the event meaning to Gordon & Barbara.

And now, Gordon has some thoughts to share with you on Celebration.

Thoughts on Celebration - Gordon.

CELEBRATION is a moment of true exuberance and joy.
  • It is a time to enjoy and recognize the small things in life and revel in their meaning.

  • To appreciate every moment of every day to its fullest, and relish the wonderful gift of life.

  • To laugh, shout, to sing.

  • To dance to the beat of your own heart, and share with the goodness of humankind.

Invocation - Jenny
So now, I ask that we all take a moment, and let us all be here, be awake to what is happening right now, as we join in community and celebrate for Barbara & Gordon. Now is a time to mark that moments of real joy happen, and I call you to live them, and breathe them in, in the present. Now is an opportunity to sink into a deeper way of being with each other, to feel yourself as alive, and to witness the love that has brought us together.

Take a look around you - we are participants in a wonderful drama unfolding. Look at who else is here for the celebration. And to use Gordon's words: "Here it is; it's great. Let's not take it for granted."

Barbara has some thoughts on Community...

Thoughts on Community - Barbara.
We are grateful to all of you who are the community in which we reside. You are our friends and family on whom we rely for support, love, and enfolding.

You are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. You are a circle of hands that open to receive us, eyes that light up as we come near, voices that celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power.

You are the arms that hold us when we falter, a circle of healing, a circle of dear friends, a place where we can be free to grow and learn.

We thank you for being a part of our lives over the many years...

Transition: Jenny
There are two particularly important members of the family community who were not present at the original ceremony, Barbara & Gordon's children, Paul and Diana. They will read to you an excerpt from "The Velveteen Rabbit."

A Reading on Commitment - Reading of "The Velveteen Rabbit" (Paul & Diana Nagai)
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"REAL isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he is always truthful. "When you are REAL you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once your are REAL you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Transition: Jenny.
Gordon will now say a few words about the meaning of these two flowers here on the altar.

Ritual: Comments about the two flowers - Gordon.
These two flowers represent the two of us - the Chrysanthemum standing for me and my Japanese heritage, the Red Rose for Barbara and her lineage. Forty years ago, we came together in something not altogether common in those days, an inter-racial union. Getting married in itself has its own challenges, so we were adding yet another layer on top of all that marriage brought. We have been very fortunate over the years that this was never a major problem for us as a family. The fact that we started out with many of you as our circle of friends was a major blessing. That you have remained true to us for all these years, you and your families, has made our relationship all the richer for it. Today's celebration is as much an expression of our appreciation to and affection for you, as marking a milestone in our lives. We thank you, and we love you all...

Transition: Jenny.
Barbara & Gordon, now is the time to turn and face each other, and say your vows, as you stand in this circle of family and friends.

You two have chosen to speak vows once again to each other.

Vows are spoken words to affirm and make manifest your feelings and intentions. Here we have the two of you stepping together to speak of that which only you can experience, and know. And although you are surrounded by others tonight, this taking of vows is inherently a private, intimate act. Added to this is the importance of having your community of witnesses who confirm your spoken word, and say "hallelujah."

Take a moment now to speak your vows to one another.


For asking me 40 years ago to be your beloved,
For our two beautiful children and how you helped to raise them,
For giving me 40 wonderful and enriched years of life together,
For being there whenever I needed you,
And, commit myself to you from this day, forever...

For saying 'yes' 40 years ago to being my beloved,
For our two beautiful children and how you helped to raise them,
For giving me 40 wonderful and enriched years of life together,
For being there whenever I needed you,
And, commit myself to you from this day, forever...

Transition: Jenny
You have included water in your ceremony. Water is a source of life, and is necessary for sustaining life. For a marriage to survive - and more importantly, to thrive - a couple must share the things which sustain and nurture the marriage. By encouraging one another, and supporting one another, you share in the sustenance a marriage needs.

Water Ritual: Crystal goblet, crystal pitcher with water.
(Barbara pours water from pitcher into goblet; Gordon drinks. Gordon pours water into goblet for Barbara; she drinks.)

In the place of an exchange of rings, or replacement of rings, we wish to acknowledge, celebrate, and reaffirm you as the circle of friends that has helped to sustain this union. We look forward to continued mutual support in our years ahead...

Community Response: Jenny
It is now our turn as a community to voice our support and make a joyful noise in recognition of this recommitment. Please join me after each of the following two phrases in saying a hearty "yes" in union.
  • We celebrate Gordon & Barbara's recommitment to each other. ("Yes")

  • We will continue to support Barbara & Gordon, and to hold this union in a circle of community & love. ("Yes")

    Closing & Blessing - Jenny
    May this union continue to be blessed. May you two and your love continue to grow and thrive. May you breathe in all of life's richness and appreciate one another day by day, moment by moment. And may your community of family and friends continue to encircle this marriage with support and love.

    So - Barbara & Gordon, now is your opportunity to seal this recommitment in whatever way you see fit...

    And now, having heard these vows, and having reconfirmed our support of Gordon & Barbara, let us now move into an evening of celebration and community...

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