Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Story of a Marriage

I have told this story so many times, but I've never written it down. As today is the 8th anniversary of my wedding with Marielle, it seemed like a fun time to tell this here.

It is the story of how my wife and I ended up as a married couple, and I tell it because it is not the traditional sort of happening. In fact, we really tried to ensure that we were following Baha'i law the whole way.

It all began many years ago when I was a young teenager in Europe. I had visited a diamond factory in Amsterdam, one of those tourist trap places, and felt impelled to buy the most expensive brilliant-cut flawless, blue-white diamond I could afford: 5 points big. I knew deep inside that I would make my own wedding ring someday, even though I had no intention of ever becoming a jeweler.

The stone was taken home, put in a safe place, and rarely thought of until a few years later when my first wife and I decided to get married. I told her the story of this diamond, offering to put it in a ring for her. She didn't like diamonds, especially white ones, and requested another stone instead. She told me, in a sincere and loving way, to save it for someone who really would appreciate it. Her preferences ran more towards coloured stones.

And so it stayed in a safe place.

It was at this time that I began working in the Temple gardens in Wilmette. One afternoon, after work, I was lying on the grass on one of those little hills. I was thinking about the world, and how our marriage partner is said to be with us throughout all the worlds of God. Knowing that we won't have a physical body there, I began to wonder how I would recognize my wife. "What", I asked somewhere in the depths of my being, "will I call her?"

As soon as the question had formed, I heard a voice as clear as a bell, and sweeter than honey, say "mar-yel-o-day". I remember sitting bolt upright in shock, wondering where that voice came from. It was so clear that I wrote that word down, so as to be sure not to forget it.

It was a number of years after this that Connie, my first wife, and I divorced. One day, over coffee, we were talking about where we were going to go and what we were going to do with our lives. I mentioned that I didn't know where to go, as she was the only reason I was staying in Chicago. I had job offers in many other cities, but none of them called out to me. "Winnipeg," she suggested. "You seem radiant every time you come back from Winnipeg."

And so I moved here.

The years went by and I began to serve the Baha'i community here. One of these services came to me by accident. It was my monthly talks in Augustine United Church, which led to many church talks in other churches. I've told this story in another article, so I won't go into it here.

Let's just say that the fact that I was being invited to speak in Christian churches intrigued Marielle, and she wanted to know how I did it. One night at a Feast, she approached me and asked if we could talk about it.

Ooh! I get to do an aside here now. I haven't done one of these for a long time.

Marielle was wearing a stunning red dress that evening, and a number of the male Baha'is were ogling her. Some were even making some minorly rude comments. Hard to believe, I know, but sadly true. I like to think that they were moved by some unseen spirit to do this, as they normally would not have, just so that Marielle and I could talk. Anyways, the fact that I politely answered her questions, and spoke with her on an intellectual and spiritual level, never once commenting on her dress, made a very favorable impression. I, however, was clueless of this. In case you have never noticed, I tend to be clueless about a lot of things like that.

So there we were, talking aout service to the Faith, and she asked if she could attend some of these talks.

How could I say no?

It was also at this time that I was going up to Dauphin, Manitoba, on a regular basis to talk about the Faith up there. The friends in Dauphin asked me, one day, if I could bring some musicians with me, to give some variety to the talks. I immediately thought of Marielle and my friend Samuel.

We drove up a few weeks later, along with our dear friend, Sinj, and that was things began to change.

During the presentation that evening, I noticed that Marielle and I worked really well together. My stories blended beautifully with her music, and her music led right back into the next story I wanted to tell. It felt comfortable. No, more than that: it felt complete.

Fortunately, Marielle felt that, too.

Now, she had just recorded a CD, and was getting ready to do a tour, so she asked me if I could go with her to help teach while she was performing. Once again, I found myself in the position of not being able to say no. Not that I wanted to say no, but even if I did I couldn't.

Although the tour never materialized, we did prepare for it. We sat down and studied the Writings together, knowing that we would have to have a very solid foundation if this were to work. When thinking about what to study, we realized that, as collaborators, we would need to know how to consult together, and so we chose the Consultation Compilation.

As you know, dear Reader, that whole compilation is all about Assemblies consulting with their community, or with each other. How, we wondered, did this relate to two individuals who want to learn to consult with each other?

I suggested that we look at the idea of macro-micro. In this compilation, we read about an institution consulting. I figured a two-person institution would suggest marriage, and so suggested we could see it in that light. I had no ulterior motives in making that suggestion. Really! It was just the simplest way I could see it at the time.

We did, however, wonder about the permissibility in making a leap like that. Then we got to extract number 10, in which we read "for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden."

Me being me, I skipped over that bit, thinking "Oh yeah, the this of one that. Let's get to the important stuff."

Marielle being Marielle, thank God, stopped me. "You're skipping over sacred Text. Let's see what's in there." And thus began an analysis that changed my life. What I was skipping over was a classic example of macro-micro, there within that Text. Sea - river. Stars - one sun. Trees - flowers. Water - light - life. It was as if 'Abdu'l-Baha were telling us that if it works on one level, it is ok to read it on another. More on that here.

Now we began to learn how to consult as two individuals, unknowingly paving the way for our future marriage.

While all of this was happening, a friend of mine who owned a jewelry store invited me in so that he could teach me how to make a ring. For some reason, he said, he felt impelled to teach this to me.

"Take a ring from that scrap pile," he said. So I did. It was the smallest gold ring in the pile. Super tiny. But I knew it was the one I needed.

"That's too small," he chided, "get a bigger one."

"No, this is the one I want."

And so he proceeded to show me how to take a scrap ring and turn it into a work of art.

When I went home that evening, I got out my diamond from my safe place and put it in my backpack. The next day, when I went to finish the ring, it went in. I had cut out a 9-pointed star by hand, free-form, in white gold, and the diamond fit perfectly in it.

I was in tears.

When Dean, my jeweler friend, asked me what this ring was, I told him it was my wedding ring. "Really? Who's the luck lady?"

"I have no idea. I just know that it's hers."

That night I went to the Baha'i Centre for another Feast, and was so excited about this ring that I showed it to a number of friends. Marielle walked up and asked if she could see it. I handed it to her and she slipped it on her finger - a perfect fit.

After we were married, she told me that she never looked at jewelry, but when she put on that ring, she heard a voice say, "This is yours."

She was very disappointed when I told her it wasn't for sale.

It was just a few weeks later that we found ourselves studying the Writings again in a coffee shop, and ran across a paragraph in which the Master describes some good virtues to find in another person.

I read that aloud and stopped in mid-sentence. I reached in my pocket, pulled out the ring and asked her if she would marry me.

"Yes," was the immediate response, to the surprise of us both.

She later said that her mind was screaming, "What are you? Nuts?" But her heart would not allow her to say no.

It was that afternoon that we snuck one quick kiss, never to kiss again until after we said our wedding vows a few months later, 8 years ago today.

It was shortly after that when I ran across that piece of paper I wrote in the Temple gardens: "mar-yel-o-det".

My wife's name? Marielle Audet.


  1. I have received many comments on this article on Facebook, but there is one that I feel I must reprint here. I have deleted the names, just in case they don't want it public.

    Hi Mead,

    How are you? This is ... writing to you from ...'s profile. I was playing a game on his page and seen your post.

    Mead, that was the most beautiful story I've ever read! I'm crying happy tears for you both.

    Thank you for sharing this - have you ever heard that 'inner voice' since? Did you ever hear it previously? I have goosebumps!

    I have an ache inside after reading your words. Like something I have a longing for...I think it's the 'mystical' part of my spirituality that I miss and crave.

    Just beautiful! Thank you again and Happy Anniversary to you and Maurielle!

  2. Here is my reply to the previous comment:

    Thank you ... I have tears in my eyes after reading your beautiful note.

    Yes, I have heard this inner prompting many times before and since. I sincerely believe we all have it, but that it takes trust and practice to cultivate it.

    I have spent hours with Marielle helping her develop her intuition, too. Whenever she mentions having an intuition like that, I encourage her to follow it. The result? She listens to that inner prompting far more now than ever.

    There is a beautiful time when we were talking to this man we had just met, when I clearly heard a voice say "Ghana".

    Without batting an eyelash, I asked the man where he was from. He smiled and said, "Where do you think I'm from?"


    Both Marielle and Samuel (the guy), looked at me in shock.

    This was the opening needed to really begin talking about the Faith.

    Afterwards, when he had gone, Marielle asked me how I knew. I told her about the voice, and that I absolutely knew I had to somehow mention Ghana.

    She looked at me in awe and said, "I know. I heard exactly the same voice just before you said anything. I was just trying to figure out how to bring it up when you asked him where he was from."

    If you ever have a "feeling" like that, or an intuition to try something, go with it. It gets easier with time and practice. Of course, make sure that it doesn't violate any law, for that would be a good indication that it isn't from God.

    With love and prayers,