We’re gathered here today, as family and as friends of Kyeli Ruvoryn Lorino (Smith) and Pace Mawokamatanda Reagan (Smith) for their joyous, illegal wedding ceremony.
Pace and Kyeli really wanted you here to share this day with them, and that’s profound. You see, Kyeli and Pace can’t legally get married in Texas. The state of Texas, like too many other states in this country, wants to pretend that their union doesn’t exist.
Well, that’s just too bad for Texas…
Look at what Pace and Kyeli have done. They’ve built a home. They’ve built a family. They’re raising a beautiful, amazing son. They’ve brought together a community of hundreds and hundreds of people. They spend their days teamed up together, encouraging people to communicate, to grow, to change the world.
They haven’t done this in darkness or in silence. They haven’t done this by hiding who they are. There’s no way they could have. They live their lives brightly, like shared beacons of possibility, showing others just how great things can be when you’re true to yourself, when you commit yourself to the things that you believe in, and when you treat those you care about with love.
And that’s where we come in. Just as surely as Kyeli and Pace have reached out to us, we’ve reached out to them, and we have an opportunity to keep reaching out to them. Marriage isn’t just the union of two people, it’s a union of the community. When a marriage is stronger, we’re stronger. When we’re stronger, the marriage is stronger.
We live in strange and, in many ways, strained times. We have more personal freedom than ever. We have vastly more options, and far fewer limits. We are a sea of individuals… and many of us are more alone than ever. Our families are smaller, our communities are more distant, and our neighbors are strangers. It’s confusing, it’s lonely, and it’s frightening. We can’t persist alone. We can’t thrive like that. But what we can do is open our eyes, and open our hearts to each other. We can search our own hearts, know our own selves, know our own wounds, our own scars, as well as our own capacity for love, for kindness, for forgiveness, for empathy. And as we do so, we can begin to look around us and see opportunities to connect. We can begin to see others, and we can begin to see what is beautiful within them. Not despite their fear or uncertainty, but including it. We can see others as complete humans, who may have sometimes walked a rocky path, but not without carrying love and hope and compassion within their hearts, just as we have.
We can open our hearts, and learn to accept ourselves, and as we do so, we can begin to invite others in. We can’t help but build community. And we can’t help but support those we love. Of course, ultimately the success of Pace and Kyeli’s marriage comes down to… Pace and Kyeli. Being an active participant in any committed relationship is a lot of work, and that’s all the more true of marriage. It’s an incredible amount of work… but that’s because it’s a path of growth. Growth is hard, and it’s intimidating. Being that close to another person requires a lot of patience, self- examination, and, sometimes, sacrifice.
And yet, that’s also the reward. You have to become stronger. You have to learn how to be giving, how to be loving, how to pay attention. You have to grow in your understanding of yourself — and others. But, just as you must do these things to be an active partner, you also have a partner. There will be someone there to care for you, to help you when you stumble, to team up with you to rise to new challenges, and to allow you to see yourself more clearly than you ever could on your own.
It’s not easy work, but it’s some of the only work truly worth doing.
This was written and read by our very dear friend Nathan Winant, who officiated at our wedding. We were both completely blown away by the depth and beauty of this, and it really set the tone for the rest of the ceremony. Thank you, Nathan.