The Buchele Adventure

This is record of the Buchele Adventure, as reported from West Africa.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Handfasting - Care for the Rope that holds you together.

This fall I was honored to officiate at a Wedding in Colorado in which a Handfasting was used.  Handfasting is a Celtic tradition in which the hands of both bride and groom are symbolically tied together.  At this wedding some of the grooms old climbing ropes used.  I liked how the couple introduced the idea as a how they would use a blend of some of his rock-climbing rope to bind their hands together.  This is meaningful because just as the rope had supported and preserved his life in the past, so will the marriage to this woman, his bride, support and preserve his life - and hers - in the future." 

There is a saying that “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”, and I told the couple that about those ropes that would be used, and how they could be a metaphor for this new life they begin together, and spoke to the about what I thought these three strands would represent.

One stand would be the bride, another the groom, and the third the vows they are taking and that we have gathered to witness and bless. 

From an engineer’s perspective, ropes like these are highly overdesigned in that the safe working load is determined to be one fifth of the rope’s breaking strength.  So really you could by  on just one of these strands…right?  Then I asked the groom if he had ever trusted a climbing rope like that? 

The strength of a rope depends on its thickness, the thickness of the rope depends on it components and the components of this rope of marriage are the bride, the groom, and the vows they make to each other.

So what is the care and feeding of this rope?

According to REI, here are some simple guidelines:

Don’t step on your rope.  REI says that there is nothing that wears out your rope faster than stepping on it.  Besides possibly cutting the sheath on the rocks underfoot, stepping on the rope also grinds dirt and dust into the sheath and core, which increases unseen internal damage to the rope.

The same is true for marriage, I told them.  Don’t step on your marriage, don’t grind dirt into it; don’t walk all over your marriage and then expect it to protect you.  So don’t step on your rope.

Use a rope bag – a good rope bag keeps dust and dirt fro finding its way inside your rope.   Dirt impairs the strength, safety  and performance of your rope.

The same is true for marriage ­– You need to protect it, to have a place it can rest, away from work, away from the pressures of life, away from friends, and yes family.  Make time for just the two of you, doing something you both enjoy, and do it just because you enjoy doing it.  It doesn’t have to lead to anything, enjoying it is a good enough reason.   God knows you both in professions that are difficult and stressful enough on their own, protect your marriage.  So use a rope bag. 

Run your rope freely – Make sure your rope runs freely whenever possible.  There is nothing that will trash a rope like sharp edges or rough corners.  Let it hand free and encourage the twist to unwind with your hand.  

The same is true for marriage – Let your spouse be themselves, the person you fell in love with.  Give them permission to try new things, change, learn a new skill, and run free.  Don’t be overly controlling, allow them the freedom to be the person they are becoming.  Be patient and kind with them, support them in their successes. Some of which may eclipse yours, but don’t be envious, nor jealous but be supportive.  Let your home be a safe place to unwind. So let your rope run freely.

Avoid poor rappelling and belaying – Fast or jerky  rappelling, lowering and belaying can cause rope damage due to burning the sheath, as well as loss of control.   

The same is true for marriage – Avoid drama for drama’s sake.  Don’t intentionally jerk each other around.  In our house we try to follow the “no strife” rule, meaning we do not invite strife into our lives.  Imagine a door that is shut, and then imagine everything that is wrong with the world, or could go wrong, every type of evil is behind that door, and when you open that door, you are inviting strife it into your home,  and the worst part is knowing that you did it yourself, and once open, it doesn’t go back easily.

Mark the Middle, NOT – UIAA tests a few years ago showed that marking ropes with sharpies or felt-tipped pens can damage the rope; this even includes those markers sold specially for marking ropes. 

The same is true for marriage – Don’t mark up your marriage, don’t keep score, keep no record of wrongs.  You will have opportunity to practice this rule.  And each time you get to make I forgive,  do I learn to trust again, do I hope for a better tomorrow or long for a past that never was?  The decision is yours each time, and each time you keep score, or mark your rope, you weaken it.  Sometimes climbers mark the middle of their rope, and in marriage that leads to a 50:50 portioning of its responsibilities.  A friend of mine warned against that, explaining that every good marriages is based on the 60:40 rule.  That if you each contribute 60% to marriage, there will always be extra in times of need; and in your case, if you mark not the middle, but always make sure that you’ve let out 60%, your rope will never run out.  

Now…here is where the metaphor breaks down.  REI suggest that ropes must be replaced when damaged or when old.  And they give general guidelines, like after repeated falls, or every two years in traditional use, or 2-4 years in weekend use, or when damaged (by anything I mentioned earlier).
But unlike rope, your marriage has the ability to regenerate, to recover, to repair damage and to be made new.  All you have to do is care for it, keep the vows you made, and protect the love you have for each other. 
Your rope can climb mountains, it can move mountains, it can do all things and through it, all things are possible.

Today you both are putting your hands to this rope called marriage and being here today you are putting your faith in love of the person who holds the other end of the rope for you. 

Being here today you are giving hope to your shared future, so if you care for this rope, and it will take care of you both, and never run out.


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