It was dark when I first met Cindy... pouring rain in the parking lot of Humphrey's Peak.
The next morning, after our summit attempt failed due to sleet and poor visibility, we headed over to Jack's Canyon to scout the area
and see if she'd like to try and learn rock climbing. Upon looking the chosen route over briefly, Cindy answered our questioning
glances with a positive and firm: "Oh, I can climb that!" And she did... all the way to the top!
When I first met Wayne not too long afterwards, Cindy had brought him to join us climbing Pinnacle
He had no previous experience...
We stuck a waiver in his face for him to sign, outfitted him with some basic equipment - and he dutifully trundled up the mountain
with us. After watching Damon, our leader, and Anne move up the route - and seeing Cindy try several times, unsuccessfully... I asked
Wayne if he was still interested in climbing. His immediate response was: "Well, I'd like to try." And he made it - all the way to
I share these stories with you today partly because they give great insight to the character of the
two people standing before us now... And also because - in approaching marriage - and it's inevitable trials, challenges, adventures,
and mysteries, the core attitudes of both Cindy and Wayne are not only great ways to begin - anything - but also essential
ingredients for success.
If, every time they face something unknown, complicated - or even painful, they stand together, examine it, and declare: "We can do
that!" - or "We'd like to try." .... ... It shouldn't be much of a surprise when we frequently see them, 'on top'. Successful.
Upon reflection, many of us find that marriage and mountaineering have much in common. They
certainly both share the theme of Graceful Interdependence... And being successful in either generally involves a complex Balance of
skill, creativity, persistence, imagination, self awareness, respect of others, and a reverence for our environment. Both of them, if
practiced well, will harbor a continuing spirit of Adventure - repeatedly beckoning us to new and fascinating places we cannot venture
Even the requirements are similar, we find: Good Communication, Security, Focus, Patience, Flexibility, and Trust are all
cornerstones of good marriage - as well as imperatives in the climbing world.
Trust, in particular, is virtually indispensable. Where there is strong trust - in self and in a
partner - there naturally follows a sense of safety and security that allows us to be more fully ourselves - to act without fear.
Within this security, we may experiment freely, maybe take some risks, try some new and interesting moves.
Out on the rock, we know that the safer we feel, the better and more fluid our climbing becomes... so too with marriage.
We know this security should not be abused or taken for granted - neither marriage nor mountain is a place for careless or reckless
behavior. Belayer and rope are there for our protection - not to haul us up the route.
Attention - thoughtful consideration and careful examination are also undeniably essential to being
a successful spouse or climber. People and relationships need attention in order to thrive. We do well to bring the same sense of focus to a marriage that we give to completing a climb - or mastering a difficult move on rock.
Good Communication plays yet another vital role... By making ourselves truly understood, we find
opportunities to meet our needs, fulfill our desires, and be a help and comfort to others. Talking through problems, ideas, goals,
fears, or dreams often leads to new and profound insights - as well as innovative ways of approaching the challenges we face. Through
open and honest dialogue, partners help one another along - sharing perspectives, warning of danger, motivating each other, and expressing appreciation and pride in each other's accomplishments.
Then there's Patience. We find a consensus among experienced spouses and climbers alike that
Patience is terribly underrated.
Patience is an open willingness to accept delay; Delay of gratification, forward movement, completion, or resolution.
Understanding that we or our spouse might not be ready or willing to go further - to make the next move - is a true gift of the heart.
Tolerance for our limitations enables us to back away gracefully... We know that our goals will still be there when we are ready to
Now no discussion of climbing would be complete without the mention of Geeear. And I must
confess that the metaphors in this regard seem infinite... but two of the more obscure are striking:
First, we bring "equipment" to a marriage - those traits and tools that will aid us in pursuing our dreams - just as we schlepp gear
to a climb. It is our individual duty to assess what is needed and appropriate in each situation - (ya don't always need that big 'ole
umbrella-sized cam), use it wisely, care for and maintain it, go out and get it if we don't have it, and replace it when it's no longer
functional or safe. Second, although the belayer provides some safety, the climber usually must place his or her own protection also.
Gear placement is both a learned skill and an artform - and we are reminded, every time we prepare to clip the next bolt or place the
next piece of 'pro', that we are just as responsible for our security as our partner is.
Both marriage and climbing, if given proper focus, time, and energy, may reward us with deep feelings
of accomplishment and satisfaction:
~ The close companionship we find...
~ The richness of shared experiences...
~ The remarkable sense of connectedness - to our partner, our surroundings, even within ourselves...
~ The wonderful memories we create of limits overcome, fears conquered, and many incredible moments of Joy...
...It's no wonder that at the end of the day, we may often find ourselves standing in Awe of all those amazing worlds we would never
have discovered - by ourselves Alone.
Arizona, wedding, marriage, ceremony, commitment, ceremonies, rite, ritual, blessing, rites of passage,
handfasting, same-sex union, officiate, ministry, clergy, minister, officiant, non-denominational, spiritual, vow, outdoor, travel,
short notice, Grand Canyon, mountain, climb, climbing, mountaineering, Krawarik, mystical