Journeys of the Heart at Sweet Sixteen

Journeys of the Heart officiants gathered yesterday, March 3, 2012, for our annual blessing, commissioning ordination ceremony.  Now in our 17th year of celebrating weddings, funerals, birth celebrations, bar/bat mitzvahs, we were delighted to bring six new officiants onboard.  They are Renee Ford-Conway, Tim Dalton, Stacey Schiding, Tara Rubinstein, Jim Haley and Susan Harte.

So much from God
That I can no longer
Myself A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim
A Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself

With me
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, and angel
Or even pure

Love has

Befriended me so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed

Of every concept and image

My mind has ever known.

Hollywood’s Own Laura and Mike Got Married Today!

Congratulations to Hollywood’s own newly married Laura and Mike Schlagnhaufer! Today was their wedding day at Rosewood Caterers on Frankford Avenue in northeast Philadelphia.
Mike and Laura worked with me to created a beautiful and unique Journeys of the Heart ceremony which included a blessing and presentation of a St. Nicholas metal to Laura’s son, Kevin, by his new step-Dad, Mike. (Laura told me that St. Nicholas is the patron saint of boys. I never knew that but certainly agree that boys need all the protection they can possibly get!)
Mike escorted his mom to her seat before taking his place beside me. As soon as he did, all the pre-ceremony tension seemed to drain out of him. He was relaxed and smiling. Kevin came down the aisle with the flower girls and when he went to the end of the row of guys, Mike called him over to stand next to him. Kevin was helpful during the ceremony in holding the microphone for me when I had to turn the page of the book.
Laura was escorted by her dad, John. She wore a beautiful strapless gown that had just enough embellishment to look spectacular but not so much as to be gaudy. She wore a crystal tiara with a veil attached. She had her blonde hair done in soft ringlets. She looked perfectly beautiful.
Laura’s cousin, Melissa, read The Prayer of St. Francis and Mike’s godmother, Jean, read from the epistle of Paul to the Corinthians that describes the attributes of love:  Love is patient, love is kind …
I created a personal love story which I read to the delight of the guests. Every love story is as unique as every couple is,  but Laura and Mike are the first ones I’ve married who were introduced by one of their parents. Mike’s mom worked with Laura and really wanted them to meet. I thought it was excellent that his mom recognized a wonderful young woman for her son and that he trusted his mom enough to consent to meet her. As I said in the ceremony, how many moms get to introduce their child to such a wonderful partner and then to have it have such a happy outcome? Not many, for sure.
Mike and Laura shared a cup of wine, received the blessings of their guests, exchange the vows and rings and tenderly kissed.


The ceremony ended with this blessing:
Michael and Laura,
May God go before you on this, your wedding day
To clear a safe passage when your feet are unsteady
To uphold the bonds of love among families and friends
To keep your married love growing ever stronger with the passage of time
To strengthen and hold you when the storms of life would bruise you
And to return you, at the end of each day, to the arms of this one
Who is your love and your home.

(c)Marguerite H. Sexton

Tomorrow the Schlagnhaufers are off to Las Vegas for their honeymoon. Every blessing to you, Michael, Laura and your dear son, Kevin. Be happy.  Live long.

Ali and Matt Wed at Bucolic Berks County Horse Farm

Ali Grusha and Matt Jenco wed on a farm in Berks County
Officiated by Urbane Peachey, Officiant, Journeys of the Heart

June, 2010 included a memorable  wedding on a manicured horse farm in Berks County, Pennsylvania.   The ground of the spacious indoor riding stable was covered with carpets; lovely  sweeping white drapes created a centerpiece high above. The aroma of  a clean country  horse stable  enhanced the ambiance!

The bride, Ali Grusha , who works in pharmaceutical sales, is an enamored and skilled rider, along with her mother; both are horse specialists.   The farm included two Appaloosa and two brown quarter horses to which the bride was tightly attached.  

The first view that caught my eye as I arrived at the farm for the wedding was the beautiful bride, Ali, in her wedding dress being photographed while side-saddle on her favorite Appaloosa.  Both bride, Ali,  and groom, Matt Jenco, were bonded to a miniature Australian Shepherd dog, Colby; they required that the horses and dog should be named in the ceremony, and so they were.

Colby, the couple’s Shepherd dog lay quietly and observantly at the feet of the bride’s mother during the ceremony until he was called to present
the rings after the vows were spoken.  Colby presented and returned as directed to his designated place.

The ceremony praised the diverse interests of the couple.  For example, Matt, an engineer has an interest in farm equipment, has also gone scuba diving for ship wrecks in the Atlantic Ocean.

The ceremony gave dignified expression to the couple’s commitment in the open and playful ambiance of the farm.  I, as officiant, prepared and
presented a short reflection based on the couple’s love story, tracing the earliest meeting of the couple in a university public speaking class to the
bonding moment in the rolling hills of a Berks County farm.

The Hollywood Wedding of Randy and Ping

The Hollywood wedding of Randy and Ping
The beautiful yard of Hollywood resident and Abington political activist, Robin Beall, was the setting for a small and intimate group that gathered for the wedding of Cai Ping Zhang and Randy Tang. 
Randy called the Journeys of the Heart office just two weeks prior to discuss with Marguerite possible options for the wedding.
After discovering that they had no venue ideas and were only planning on the attendance of Randy’s parents ,his sister, her husband and their children, Marguerite arrived at the perfect solution: the small, intimate, and exquisitely lovely back yard of her friend and neighbor, Robin.
In their initial conversation Randy, who is Chinese-American, told Marguerite that Ping speaks little or no English. In addition, Ping’s parents and family are still in China and so there would be no one from her family in attendance. 
Marguerite has a long-time dear Chinese friend , Bik Wan Yeung (whose American name is Mary), who was called on for translator duties. Mary had never before served as a translator and was a bit nervous but Marguerite explained that she mostly wanted Ping to feel comfortable and wanted someone who would explain to her (Ping) what Marguerite wanted her to understand. Marguerite mostly wanted Mary to provide hospitality in their native language.
The day of the wedding, a slightly overcast Wednesday, Mary arrived an hour early in order to review with Marguerite what would be her duties. Finally the wedding party arrived and both Mary and Marguerite were immediately struck by the beauty of the tiny Chinese bride, resplendent in her bright white wedding gown. 
Mary went to work immediately talking to the guests, welcoming them, offering them iced tea or water while Marguerite received the marriage license paperwork.  Then everyone walked about 50 yards down the block to Robin’s back yard. As each one stepped inside, they responded with “Ohhhh” or “Ahhh this is so pretty.” Someone even asked if Robin created the yard especially for weddings, it was just that perfect. The crepe myrtle was in full and colorful fuchsia.
And so the ceremony began. Marguerite had suggested that we have a video camera on hand so that Ping could send the ceremony to her family in China. In the ceremonial Words of Tribute to Parents, we mentioned Randy’s parents , Tim and Tina, who were present, along with Ping’s parents in China. Ping spoke their names in Chinese. Mary translated the words of gratitude to the parents so that the parents in China would hear, understand, and see their beautiful daughter on her wedding day.
When it came to the vows, Mary had suggested making them as simple as possible. So it was agreed that Marguerite would say the words of the vows, Mary would translate, and Ping would assent with “I do” in English. Ping said “I do” both in English and in Cantonese which Marguerite, turning to the video camera, told her parents in China that she assented.
The bride and groom were  very sweet and tender with one another, offering the sweetest of kisses at the end of the ceremony and happy to oblige for any requests for kisses for photo purposes.
We totally believe that sometimes Journeys of the Heart creates truly magical moments and circumstances and the wedding of Randy and Ping certainly a case in point. Perhaps some readers will believe in “coincidence” but we believe that there is a fine line between what some call coincidence and others call “miracle.” Here is why:   Our translator, Mary, grew up in a small village in China and escaped in the 1960’s. Our bride, Ping, grew up in the same town. As Mary explained it, it would be as if, in the heart of China, someone from Jenkintown would come in contact with someone from Glenside.   So Mary was not only fluent in Cantonese, she was able to speak to Ping in the particular dialect of their home village. It would be like someone from south Philly or Brooklyn hearing that familiar dialect that sounds like home.
Coincidence? Miracle? You decide, dear reader. You know what I think. Where there is love, miracles abound!
By the way, the entire family is employed by King’s Garden Chinese Restaurant. It’s an excellent restaurant located at 8225 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118. That’s Chestnut Hill. The phone number is 215-753-0246.

The Abington Art Center Wedding of Julie Meyer and Aaron Larson

Journeys of the Heart Officiant Jim Rosengarten presided at  the wedding of Julie Meyer and Aaron Larson on July 17, 2010 at the Abington Art Center.
Julie and Aaron have known each other for about nine years and have created a very sweet son, Elliot, who is about 1 year old. Elliot actually came with them when they met with me to plan their ceremony. He stared at the three of us quietly with these attentive eyes that made me wonder if he actually understood what we were saying.
The venue for the wedding was beautiful. Abington Art Center has several outdoor settings for weddings in the open spaces in the sculpture garden outside of the Art Center. Scattered throughout the grounds are intriguing, thought-provoking, and whimsical sculptures – and even more inside. This added greatly to the natural beauty and lovely landscaping of the place.
From the beginning, Julie and Aaron were interested in including Elliot in the ceremony. He had to be included in the reflection about their lives, gleaned from the forms they filled out for me, because they both talked about how much he means to them. He also was part of their marvelous and unusual unity ritual: They provided three beautiful plants – one with red flowers, one with white, and one with pink – in small pots. After I read about how their lives would remain independent but that their roots would begin entangling and affecting each other in beautiful ways, they then all three planted their flowers into one big clay pot. Well, Julie and Aaron planted theirs, then I got to hold Elliot while he sort of planted his. His parents did more of the planting as he seemed more interested in my beard than the planting!
In my brief time with them, I enjoyed watching how Julie and Aaron cared for each other and how they were carefully and tenderly working together as new parents.
After all three of them stood together for the final blessing, they then turned around and walked down the aisle: Julie, Aaron and Elliot – a fitting end to the ceremony that marked their new beginning.