September has always been a big month for us with lots of things to celebrate and anniversaries to honor. It’s the month in which Linda and I met, in which she was born, in which our first child was conceived, and it is the month in which we got married in 1972. If you’ve done the math, you know that last month we celebrated our 50th anniversary. We held the celebration in our back yard and invited friends and family to share the afternoon with us and to co-create our celebration with music, poetry, memories, stories, vignettes, great food, and lots of laughter. We knew some of the guests longer than we had known each other, some not so long.

At the end of the day Linda and I were left with feelings of deep gratitude, not just towards each other for having been partners through the delights and ordeals we’ve experienced over the past half century, but for the incredible blessing that it has been to be held in the bosom of our loved ones.  As we looked around the crowd that day, we were reminded of the many friends both physically present, and also of those who were with us in spirit. We were also reminded of a story that Linda shared with the group that we had heard years ago from the late African spiritual leader, Malidoma Some, a member of the Dagara people who was born and raised in Burkino Fasa.

Malidoma spoke of how in America, when a couple marries they are at the pinnacle of their love and life together. This is represented by their placement at the top of the wedding cake which symbolizes a mountain. In his country the marriage places the couple at the bottom of the mountain in front of them and the community of loved ones gather together to support them in moving to the top of the mountain.

We have always been struck by that recognition that no couple that has successfully navigated the perils and blessings of the pilgrimage that marriage can be, has done it on their own. It can only be accomplished with the help of others who have preceded them and have provided the guidance that marriage requires in order to be successful. One of the greatest teachings that we have learned by being the fortunate recipients of that support from the many wise and generous elders that we have received over the years, is a deep recognition that it literally does take a village, and that no couple has ever successfully experienced the blessings that marriage can offer on their own. We are also deeply appreciative of having been not only on the receiving side of that support but also to have been on the providing side of it to others, some of whom were with us during our celebration, reminding us that the giving of that support can be as healing and fulfilling as the receiving of it.

Today, nearly a month after our anniversary, we both continue to feel the gratitude and inspiration that we experienced on that day and we are hopeful and trusting that we will continue to be the givers and receivers of the circle of love and interdependence that we have co-created and continue to reaffirm on a daily basis. Thanks for being here with us.

With much love,
Charlie and Linda