On the beautiful Garden Island of Kauai last week, we gathered for the wedding of my daughter Tara to her beloved, Philly. There was such loving energy that a week later I am still buzzing with the vibes but unable to find the words to transmit the intensity. Two hundred people, half of them unknown to each other before the event, bonded together in a communal love fest that lasted for five days. It was a multicultural extravaganza that combined elements of a Hippie love-in, Wiccan solstice celebration, Polynesian dance festival, Native American rituals and Jewish tribal melodies, coming together in a paradise that resembled the parking lot of a Grateful Dead concert.
From our diverse clans we created a new tribal family. The wedding ceremony began with the families gathering at the top of a terraced garden that had two separate paths intersecting halfway down where the men and women came together and continued down as pairs. As the last one down, I watched the processional descend and it looked like a double helix DNA strand, and it struck me that we were the building blocks of a new family.
Who were these family members? Jews, Christians, Wiccans, pantheists, atheists, socialists, anarchists, and environmental activists woven together by common vision and intention. After I gave Tara to Philly, we all followed them into a huge tent, at the top of which hung my prayer shawl.
Elaine stood to speak for Mother Earth but was unable to articulate a single word. As she struggled to move her lips, only tears emerged. We sat silently in community, and understood the unspoken love that all mothers feel for their children. There was a Hopi wedding vase ritual and a Polynesian tapa cloth wrapping ceremony. Then we all stood with one arm around the person next to us and the other outstretched toward Tara and Philly, and we sent our energy. A spontaneous hum arose to fill the tent with such love that I wept when, with arms outstretched, I recited the Hebrew benediction, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the light of the Lord’s presence shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord bestow favor upon you and give you peace.”
We followed the couple out and were guided by belly-dancers to the reception site. Here, we were greeted by fire-dancers, and the bride performed a hula for her husband that was unbelievable. The toasts followed, one more poignant and/or hysterical than the next.
We laughed, danced, sang and celebrated into the wee hours, living testimony that strangers from separate tribes can come together as family, woven tightly by the thread line of love.