Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no more loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
Go now to your dwelling to enter into the days of your life together.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
After the ceremony, but before the blessing, the mothers replaced the two blankets with a single white blanket symbolizing that the two were now one. The color was to symbolize the purity of their love, white is not required as much as the best fabric or hide available. It is more about placing the highest value on the partnership rather than the parts of the marriage. Rhonda and Dave, with tears of happiness in their eyes, then turned to us and gave us their wedding testament:
Above you are the stars, below you are the stones.
As time does pass, remember, like the stars should your love be constant.
Like the stones should your love be firm.
Be close yet not too close. Possess one another, yet be understanding
Have patience with each other, for storms will come, but they will go quickly.
Be free in giving of affection and warmth and be serious to one another.
Have no fear, and let not the words of the unenlightened give you unease.
For the Great Spirit is with you, now and forever. A May Naa (amen)
“God in Heaven above, protect the ones we love. We honor all that you have created as we pledge our lives and hearts together. We honor Mother Earth and ask that our union be warm and glowing with love in our hearts."
Many of the rest of us felt those tears too. For some of us, tears of relief that all obstacles had been conquered comingled with tears of joy that all promises and prayers had been answered. It seemed as if we, and not just they, had waited forever for this magical day. All was right with the world. Now they could rest in the comfort of each other and live in the security that is love.
Those few cynics amongst us believed in the power of faith and love once again, if only for a moment.
Adam Bailey dances Adam Bailey, our nephew, danced a traditional tribal dance after the ceremony. He made his costume right down to the deer-hide laces used as thread. He hunted and killed the deer that the hide came from. According to the Cherokee way, not one part of the animal was laid to waste. What wasn't eaten was used for clothing or art. If scraps remain, they are buried, untreated, to nourish the Earth. Native Americans never kill animals indiscriminately. It is against our faith to waste the Earth or its creatures. He gathered and cleaned all the feathers in his headdress and accessories. The beads were made from twigs and stones and various other *found* objects. Cherokees try to recycle everything as a way of life and out of respect to the Earth that the Creator provided us. After the dancing was completed, we guests blessed the ground with our tobacco and sent our prayers to the Great Spirit. We then went to the gift blanket to pick out our tokens from the happy couple. Cherokee people measure wealth, not by how much you retain, but by how much you give away. Cherokees give thanks for our blessings and events by giving, rather than receiving gifts. The ceremony ended when we rejoined and completed the circle during our exit. Rhonda and Dave Buwa, joined by their nephew Adam Bailey (center) Afterwards we gathered for a pot-luck dinner and hog roast reception. If anyone left hungry it was their own fault.
I must note that while this is the ceremony that our family will recognize, it was technically not a legal marriage, nor sanctioned by most religions. Rhonda and Dave were married at the courthouse for legal reference, and also had a nondenominational Christian ceremony shortly before the Cherokee Ceremony began.
I think that any couple who goes to the trouble of being married three times, will certainly last forever. May the Great Spirit bless them both and keep them safe from harm.