Our wedding on September 26th was a day where all points came together...In the beatific mountain town of Buena Vista sits Mt Princeton Hot Springs. The resort is known for its natural springs which fill a variety of heated pools. The 2 story pavilion sits just across from the main building; Holding our wedding inside the windowed mountain facing hall was practically a no-brainer. All the better to have the attic as a children's play space. Soon enough we were sampling almond, German chocolate and spice cakes, and planning out the menu of chicken, salmon, green beans and small potatoes. Helena's considerable event planning skills came together in so many ways, down to arranging the parties at each table.
On the day before the wedding, we decided to have a get together at the infinity pool across the way from the resort. Family and friends pulled together from a constellation of our life paths joined us for an evening of revelry topped off by an open mic section. Yours truly even brought out a pair of pipes most didn't know I had, singing Steve Vai's epic love ballad 'I'll Be Around'. Helena followed with a stream of consciousness statement revealing her extreme depth of caring and celebration of who I am, the crown jewel of which is being one who sees and attempts to understand the mercurial beauty that exists inside me.
Photo by Jeff Maes
My painting 'Like We Touched Heaven' shows us joining hands, one each around a chalice with a blade emerging from the top and extending towards a glowing star. Energies swirl from our heart centers and intertwine around the blade upwards towards the star. Our clothes are based on the fantasy themed outfits we wore for our engagement shoot in Garden of the Gods. Her wings are multicolored, mine are raven black and gold.
Photo by Matt Maes
As well curated as this whole event was, you've gotta appreciate the unexpected badass moments that come flying at you...One of ours was a bat that landed on a tree while we were having wedding party pictures taken. We were fortunate that our photographer Keana was right there to capture the little creature on the tree (The shot of it launching off the trunk is absolutely epic). Us guys were particularly ecstatic to have been blessed by this awesome moment immortalized on camera and in memory.
The most rewarding part for me was to have our closest people together in the same building in the context of a ceremony which is so true to who we are. The thoughtfulness of our officiators JT Smiedendorf and Allison Conte came through in our co-creation of a sequence which literally brought us over the threshold into a new phase of life. Gathered at the end of the mountain facing pavilion we stood flanked by 4 bridesmaids and groomsmen: On Helena's side was my sister Melody, Alexandra, Erin and Sarah. On my side from the far end I had Carson, Robert, Ben and my son Xavier. Each of them had entered from the side and between 2 columns of wheat grass in tall vases, followed by myself and Helena who was given away by her father David.
Photo by Keana Willis
JT invited us all to take a breath and be present in the space. The energy of the room shifted as we stepped across the threshold. We could feel the compounded effect of our friends and family towards our collective ritual.
Between either of our hands we gripped a golden chalice in one, and my Excalibur replica in the other, dipping the pommel into the water inside the chalice. I've loved swords since very young and have always had at least one since receiving my first at a few years old. To me it represents the extension of a hero when held in the right hands. I felt strongly that it would only be right to include a sword in the ceremony. However, it would need to be balanced with a symbol for the feminine, which is the chalice. Our vision was and is to join the two together, with our hands on each.
Holding the chalice and blade aloft, the bridesmaids and groomsmen each recited one of the 8 blessings of Freya inspired through the process of my art piece 'Sovereign Breath of the Eternal' which features the goddess. Even being the one who wrote them, I'd never heard them spoken out loud and felt bowled over hearing them during our rehearsal:
May prosperity arise all around you
May strength run through your blood
May any trials come with valuable lessons
May each word carry the truth of your heart
May every step align with intention along your path
May the flame of enlightenment burn bright
May gifts rain from the sky into your lap
May harmony touch all around you
'Sovereign Breath of the Eternal' tapestry by Matt Maes
Next, we laid the chalice and blade aside onto the altar adorned with an assortment of precious items from my meditation space, and two antler sheds in back. We'd been made aware of the distinction between writing poetic words to each other, and our vows, which is what you feel vs what you plan to do. A vow is an oath, a commitment that needs to be made of one's own volition and spoken with sincere passion. That is the difference between an obligation and commitment: One is a chore and the other is the responsibility of your own choice.
Xavier presented the pillow holding our rings. Helena's is a silver and diamond band which goes with her engagement ring topped by amber citrine. Mine is the "Dionysus" which is green opal, rose gold, whiskey barrel wood and tungsten carbide. With our officiators blessing, we kissed deeply for the first time as husband and wife.
Finally, our supporters joined with their own commitments to rally with us in the bonding of our union. Everyone was called to extend their hands towards us and with each ask for support, a pulsating chorus of "We do", and a gang of children waving ribbons at each annunciation, created our apotheosis; Just as we see the group, the group sees itself and together we joined as mirrors reflecting each other. Within that moment, we experienced a fresh infusion of ease to faith in the divine intertwining of our bonds.
Photo by Keana Willis
Next we were released to mingle with our collective loved ones for all too brief moments before settling into our tables for dinner. Earlier our point person had floated the choice of either having the table runners arranged uniformly or all pointed towards the head table (We chose the latter). Looking out at everyone gathered together inspired a moment of self reflection (It's easy to get wrapped up in all of the sensations happening around me but sometimes I've gotta take a moment to allow my mind to breathe)...
I've never experienced anything like this before. I've never been a husband, I've never been a father, before meeting Helena I'd never moved in with a romantic partner before. In so many ways I've entered an entirely new arena. All these people have gathered here to support us, and of course dine on gourmet quality grub, but what else do they personally get out of it? For most of my life I'd resisted the idea of being married or having children, and it was only shortly after I'd experienced a shift at the spiritual level that I met Helena. I've always been the type that had to see evidence before believing, especially when it came to the subject of miracles. If someone asked me how I felt at this moment, I could say "Incredible", or "Like I'm living in a dream", both of which are true, but even deeper than that my soul speaks "As if I'm walking on an invisible path where I'm at ease in the unknown, that there's a knowing where I'm going beyond what my mind can understand, that I've been protected all along the way, humbled by evidence of the extraordinary".
So when I think about that personal reason why so many people are gathered here, I think maybe deep down they share that same desire: They've booked flights, set aside work, bought new outfits, all these things to come out here for us but also because they yearn to witness something which pierces through mundanity and brings us all into the extraordinary. People are thirsting to believe in something as I once did, and now do, living in the realization of sacredness all because I dared to follow my curiosity for years and finally witnessed evidence bridging the gap to belief.
A repeated fork clicking against glass silenced the room as all eyes were drawn to the front. One by one a handful of our wedding party expressed from their perspective why they choose to lend their support to our union. Speaking for my immediate family, this was a day that they had all but given up hope would come due to my long held insistence on independence which my sister called to in her statement. It's one thing for either Helena or I to speak for ourselves but it's quite another for someone who's close to us to share their perspective for one important reason: They have the benefit of witnessing our histories (I'd silently toyed with the idea of having a roast but am glad that we didn't. Maybe I'll have one at my belated bachelor party). The procession of blessings was capped off by my father, especially with his words "I will fight for you". Anyone who's been close to him knows that he means what he says, and we all felt that one.
Photo by Keana Willis
Next came unexpected badass moment number 2: When it came time to cut the cake, I knew no simple procedure would do. I quickly walked across the hall to the altar and grabbed Excalibur, swiftly and silently moving along the edge of the room back towards the cake. Raising the blade up over my head I let everyone know "It's time to cut the cake!!!" Several people booked it with anticipation of what was about to happen...Originally I'd thought it would make a cool photo but fortunately I had the presence of mind to realize "I've never done this before and there's really only one time I'll have this opportunity, so..." With a steady descent, the blade lowered into the cake resulting in cheers throughout the hall. Xavier walked up with a giant grin "Matt, you know it's not the sword in the stone, it's the sword in the cake" (He's undeniably quick witted especially when he's excited).
Finally, a celebration such as ours wouldn't be complete without getting it out on the dance floor. One of our favorite forms of bonding has been through fluid expression at either of our 2 main holdouts: Love Language, which is more of a house music vibe, or ecstatic dance at Rhythm Sanctuary. The music may be different but my body responds the same way, flowing with the unseen language of sonic vibrations as they pass through me. I don't have a name for the way I dance, simply a way of its own. I've come to learn this is one of the ways I reveal myself, that I can be in a group of people having my own private experience with the highest level of involvement. It's me bringing myself to the party. When Helena and I dance, our ways come together in synchronization, she and I individually involved in the holy third of a shared rhythm.
I could write about our wonderful honeymoon in Jamaica but that would take a whole page of its own...Let's just say it was a refreshing and adventurous foray into a faraway place that punctuated our feelings of bliss.
Photo by Dunns River Falls Excursion
After the ceremony, we were left with the assortment of decorations including wheat grass, candles, table runners, etc. and were unsure what to do with all of them. It didn't take long for me to have both hands hauling absolutely all of it down to the basement where I would beautify the meditation space. I do this for the same reason that compels me to adorn the house with art: Immersing oneself in places of beauty such as this sanctuary infuses us with this continual source, carried within us throughout our days. The visible art has an invisible effect on us...Not to mention this way I have no problem showing up for daily meditation.
Photo by Matt Maes
And just like that, we close the book on another year and turn the page to the next chapter of our lives, but what does this all mean? For us, the ways we move through life have changed in significant ways. I've officially become a husband to the woman who is my lover, confidante, companion, power partner, embodiment beyond a collection of adjectives. I'm now officially the 'papa' to a brilliant child who shares many of our characteristics yet is his own individual being. As we hold the meanings within the ceremony in our hearts and minds, so too do the dynamics of our relationship change around us. In other words, as we clearly perceive it, so it is, and so it becomes.
This new phase comes with new opportunities as well as new challenges. To me, love is another word for caring - When our loved ones succeed, we rejoice. When they suffer, we feel for, and with them. When they backslide, we feel compelled to lend a hand. This level of emotional involvement creates mirrors for us to perceive them as well as ourselves if we let it. It's exactly that involvement that makes it possible for us to transform in ways we may have never seen had we not been able to see what we need to see. The challenges call us to look beyond our impulses and turn towards wisdom again and again in new ways.