June 27, 2011

{The Honey Month} Part Five/Final: "Return to Love"

[excerpt from the upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: Princess Diana, the 'Princess Myth' & a Royal Legacy for All Women. For the first four parts of this chapter, click on "Honey Month" in the Label List below.]

In one of Damanhur’s community centers, I wandered into a wedding reception one afternoon—the ceremony just completing—and I could feel the joy tingling in the room. The beaming bride and groom welcomed me to join in the celebration, offering champagne and food. I quickly grabbed a friend with a camera. The bride was wearing a bare, pale mint green, fitted dress with a bright shimmery fuchsia shawl around her shoulders; her dark curly hair was swept up and wrapped with metallic cords in what I’d call an ancient Grecian style. Both the bride and groom (in a heather green pullover knit sweater and khaki trousers) had metallic gold and silver hieroglyphics drawn on their cheeks (similar to the spiral swirl designs that decorated the bride’s shawl). This was an ancient script that I recognized from the art I had seen in the galleries and classrooms around Damanhur.

Later I asked about Damanhur’s marriage customs and learned something new about being in the moment:

In Damanhur, couples who decide to marry choose common objectives and decide for how long they want to pursue them through their marriage. In this way, a bit before the chosen deadline, the couple can re-examine their relationship and decide if and for how long to renew their commitment, choosing new goals for individual and common growth.

This wedding formula has been created so that the choice of being together can always be a desired commitment and the relationship does not fall into habit, becoming an obligation. In Damanhur, it is believed that a union of love is a precious gift for everybody because a happy couple can bring harmony, stability and growth to the whole community.

What I find intriguing and wise is that this process always keeps the attention on the relationship—no matter what circumstances come and go—with a continuous check-in, so no one’s personal ego overpowers the other or severs the connection. This “built-in re-examination” of the couple’s relationship is not intended to diminish the power of commitment, but actually to strengthen the bond that is there or to shift the relationship if the connection is missing.

It’s like the essential lesson of Mother Nature: continuous renewal. Each moment unfolds in its own unique bit of divinity. So is to love anew as an ongoing sacrament, therefore, the essence of transformation? No matter the rules or laws that give marriages societal structure, isn’t the essence of marriage—indeed all relationships—to deeply honor the nature of love within the union in each moment? “An enlightened marriage,” Marianne Williamson says in her book Return to Love, “is a commitment to participate in the process of mutual growth and forgiveness.”

And honeymoons in Damanhur? Given the commitment to community and the simplicity of a village-like, but worldly life there, it’s more akin to that old-fashioned “honey month” notion of returning home after the ceremony and relishing the embrace of family and friends, and especially each other. ~

[All images above from life in the Damanhur community in northern Italy.]

[This is the last part of the "The Honey Month" chapter of the upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride.  (For the other parts of this chapter, click on "Honey Month" in the Label List below.) Other book excerpts will be posted soon.]

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