By Father of the Groom (and Celebrant): Ron Ousky
This past weekend, my son, Dan (Dano) Ousky married Katherine (Katie) Carlson on a beautiful day on a farm outside of St. Paul. I was present as a witness, as the father of the groom, and as the Celebrant for the ceremony.
When Dano and Katie asked me to be the Celebrant, I was honored, but uncertain about whether I should accept the job. I knew that I would be ultimately asked to say the words, “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you man and wife”. However, I did not feel sure about why I would have that “power”.
I am not talking about the power to get them legally married. That part was easy. But I knew Dano and Katie wanted far more than a legal marriage. They wanted a marriage that would bring them happiness for the rest of their lives; something the law cannot ensure; essentially a spiritual marriage.
I spend a lot of time thinking about marriage and the impact it can have on our lives. I have had the good fortune of experiencing a happy marriage for 38 years and to observe many other happy marriages so I know how much joy that can bring. I have also worked as a divorce lawyer for 33 years, so I know all too well what can happen when marriage goes in another direction. I wish I could say that all these years of intense observation and experience has given me the secrets to understanding what makes a happy marriage. However, to suggest that there is a simple answer would be an insult to the many good people who come to my office facing circumstances they felt they could not control.
So, in preparing for this role, I looked to Dano and Katie for guidance, believing, as a matter of faith really, that the true ingredients for a spiritual marriage needed to reside in them. I told them I would agree to be the Celebrant if they would agree to spend time with me, helping me understand what this marriage means to them.
They agreed to share their ideas and thoughts and, over time, I arrived at the ceremony, still humbled by the role, but confident in what they had explained to me.
They told me they believed in family relationships and had, in their lives, fully committed to standing by family members, even when family can be messy. They pledged to do the challenging work to get through the messiness and to always be there to help each other improve.
They said they believed in the strength of the community that had gathered to help them get married and pledged to draw on the strength of that community throughout their lives.
They expressed their love for each and hoped that their love was strong enough to get them through stormy weather.
And. . . they expressed a belief in a God that would help them through it all.
This was hard part since I did not know how to talk about God with them. I have a deep belief in God, but have always felt awkward about discussing that belief. We raised our children in the Catholic Faith but never had the ability to easily, comfortably explain what it all means. Katie’s parents must have had a similar experience, since Katie and Dano also seem to have a deep faith in a God but they could not easily explain it.
So, I decided, uneasily, that, in absence of anyone qualified to explain God with clarity, we would have to invite a God that did not need to be explained, but had to be felt. I decided to simply invoke our faith in a God that could be seen in the faces of the people gathered at this sacred event, in a spiritually borne out of the love that Dano and Katie feel for each other, and in the better angels in the hearts of the people gathered. Somehow, on that beautiful September Day at Glen Hope Farm, that God seemed to be very present.
So, when it came to be time to pronounce Dano and Katie as husband and wife, I was able, gratefully to pronounce them Husband and Wife, by the power vested in me, not only by the State of Minnesota, but by their love for each other, by the commitment of the family and friends gathered, and by the God of their understanding. It wasn’t perfect, but if felt authentic.