Ellen is the sister in my chosen family
The one I turn to when I forget who I am
In her face I see the fullness of our collective journey, young children blossoming
Into young women becoming these adults -
More rooted, more wisdom,
Still looking deeply, into ourselves and out into the world

Snippets of memories arise:

Ellen, the new kid in English class, claiming the seat next to the most attractive boy
Ellen, high school, our friendship deepening, organizing political protests and clothing drives and walkathons, sharing Starbucks for breakfast and competitive afternoons
Ellen, best friend, debating politics and philosophy and ethics, laughing and arguing late into the night
Ellen, best friend for life, crossing paths in London, at Deloitte, and at national parks with open skies, campsites, and so many mosquitoes –
Ellen, the girl turned woman that likes to go fast - who takes joy in summiting Half Dome on a trip she didn’t plan - brave, powerful, and deeply loyal.

Ours is a friendship forged in shared meals, handwritten letters, and open hearted generosity, the kind where we don’t keep score or ask whose turn it is to pay. A best friendship where we show up and are met and loved as we are.

Here we are at your wedding.

Now I see two people who have come of age
Stepping into commitment and marriage and the intertwining of two families
A graceful weaving of the gifts of the ancestors, continuing into one
Noble and beautiful stream

I honor those that have come before that have taught us how to love
Who have held the many pieces of us before we knew how to love ourselves
Who pick us up again and again - in doubt and loneliness and grief -
And reveal the imperfect and tender world alight in her beauty

Ellen has been one of those people for me.

Ellen, I honor your parents and your ancestors, whose generosity, kindness, and love live on in you.
I honor the people we were, we are, and are becoming, and the promises that you and Earl are making to each other in front of this community
The promises that have already settled on your heart and are simply becoming publicly declared
To show up, to be present, to take good care
These promises kept, over many moments over a life, make for beautiful partnership

I call in the community that has gathered today to celebrate and to help you uphold this commitment in joy and in difficulty. May all of us gathered here strengthen and nourish your partnership, and provide companionship for the two of you on your journey of marriage and family.

May you always speak gently to each other, with words of truth
May you water the wholesome and beneficial seeds in each other, and take care of all suffering with loving care
May you come to each other each day from places of enoughness and abundance
May you offer each other your full selves, in generosity, without keeping score of giving and receiving
May the family you create inherit the wisdom and gifts of your ancestors, and carry their blessings into future generations.

To Ellen and Earl for embarking on this great commitment together.