After several ideas for vow renewals had fallen through, and we were thinking that we weren’t going to be able to do anything that year, a local friend helped us make it all happen. We extended our stay in town, and our friend helped us with all the arrangements, including shopping for fruit and flowers for the offering, calling the monk the morning of our ceremony to arrange the time, and acting as both interpreter and photographer.
It was a simple ceremony in the monk’s living room, located down a dusty road next to a temple. I remember thinking that the monk reminded me of my grandfather and then being surprised that he was a grandfather (we saw him again several times with his grandchildren).
I remember the smoky denseness of the incense and candles – the heavy scent of the sandalwood and lotus blossoms as we sat with our heads bowed. How heavy the bowl of offerings was – requiring both of us to lift it with both hands.
I remember the twinkle in the monk’s eye and I can still hear the deepness in his voice as he chanted blessings over us, then showered us with water and lotus petals. The water shocking in its coolness as it unexpectedly hit my head and then continued to do so. The sheer volume of water showered upon us, my hair dripping streams of water into my eyes and mixing with happy emotional tears, as I stole a sideways glance at Kyle and caught him doing the same thing towards me.
At the end of the ceremony, the monk took our right hands and whispered wishes of luck and blessings for our continued happiness together. And he sealed those blessings by tying red cords around our right wrists. Those cords were to bring us luck and protection, prosperity and happiness in our marriage. “You usually leave them to fall off on their own,” said our friend. We learned that they often lasted six weeks.
Ours finally fell off this week, 23 months later. My knot unraveled on Monday, and my bracelet came off in my jacket sleeve, creating a minor panic as I searched for it. Kyle’s knot came unraveled the next day while he was at work. He carefully placed it in his wallet and brought it home. There is a feeling of complete rightness in the fact that they both came unraveled so close to each other. As if the universe is reminding us , once again, that we are one, our little team.
It is hard to let these little red bracelets go. They mean so much and have traveled so far with us in these 23 months. Through 16 countries on 5 continents, they have been a constant reminder to find the blessings in life, to celebrate them, and to carry them with you wherever you go.
Finally losing them has Kyle and me thinking about blessings and how they often arrive at just the right moment. That it is important to seek them out and to carry them with you. That blessings can be an incredible comfort along the journey.
Oh, how we’ve cherished our marriage blessings and those little red bracelets. We refer to that day, with its blessings and vow renewal, as our third wedding. So it is hard for us to let go of those pieces of red cord and all they stand for. We were tempted to tie them back onto our wrists, since they’ve become such a part of us and such a part of this journey we are on.
But, this journey has taught us many things, including the importance of letting go. So we will let go of those little red cords and continue forward, carrying the blessings with us, and on the lookout for new blessings coming our way.