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A Toast (The Best Man)



As we celebrate Jan and Sandra’s day of love and their truthful acknowledgement of it, allow me to tell you a story—a myth that while may have never happened and deemed apocryphal may still shed some light on this already brilliant and luminous night.

Let me tell you a tale coming from no one else but the tallest of all philosophers and the master storyteller himself—that giant of thought who goes by the name of Plato.

In his dialogue entitled The Symposium, Socrates among his friends try to answer one simple question: "What is love?” It was no coincidence that this whole dreamy conversation happens in a banquet o sa isang inuman sa pagitan ng mga magkakaibigan. For that is what the Greek word symposion means: inuman, just like what you, my family and friends, are itching to do right now.

As each one gives his own answer to the question as to what love is, one drunk fellow (not Socrates—for he doesn't get drunk) offers a myth that had been handed down through generations upon generations among the Greeks. And the story goes this way (as far as I remember, so please bear with me).

***

Once upon a time when the Olympian gods ruled, we weren’t individuals—individuated in the sense that we were independent selves—but were “androgynous”—in the sense that human beings then were composed of both types of gender (andros, from aner means "man" while gynaikos, from gynos and gyne means "woman"; thus to be “androgynous” means to be “both man and woman” or lalake-babae.) In other words, each human being was composed of two heads placed side by side (like sweethearts walking together when they hold each other's hands); four arms (like lovers in a tight embrace); and four feet (like what fiancés look like as they kneel before the altar in the sacrament of matrimony.)

But even if they had two heads, four arms and four legs, they only had one heart found right smack in the middle of their rather round and plump bodies. And it was that solitary heart that really made those two heads, four arms, and four legs function as one; it was that single beating heart that unified what could otherwise had been two separate individuals.

Alas, a day came that because of their unbelievable power and cunning intelligence, and perhaps, most of all, because of their hubris, these androgynous beings revolted against the gods and tried to mutinously ascend Mt Olympus to overthrow Zeus himself.

But Zeus, all powerful and all wise, knew how to weather the storm of rebellion without totally annihilating these tumultuous beings. He found a way to dis-able them without killing them, but at the same time striking them in a way that would later on be as tragic as death itself. He sent his thundering thunderbolts to separate these beings: he cut them in half right down the middle to diminish their combined power; he divided what was one into two. And ever since that time, we—you and I—have always been a-lone.

And so legend has it that this is the reason why all of us ended up with one head, two arms, two legs; and more poignantly, this is why we are solitary and lonely individuals walking on the face of this earth. The problem though—and herein lies the real punishment for our hubris—was that the thunderbolt from Zeus also cut through the single heart that the human being shared with the Other—now lost but never forgotten—Half. This is the punishment that Zeus almighty saw fit: that though we are complete in mind and body, our heart or our soul shall always be just a part of a lost whole, a shadow of itself or a nostalgic memory of what it used to be.

And isn't this the reason why throughout our whole lives we keep on looking for that Other Half, that missing link, the keeper of the keys to our hearts, this “soulmate” or that person who, according to the philosopher Jerry Maguire, "would complete me," would complete us?

***

My best man Jan has been blessed with finally finding what his heart has been looking for in Sandra; my good friend Sandra, in turn, has been graced with discovering that, through the different byways and sideways of life, it was Jan who was at the end of the road, waiting there patiently for the arrival of the gift that was to come, the gift that was none other than their mutual love.

Both of you, Jan and Sandra, stand before family and friends no longer as two separate hearts but as one pulsing, beating and loving heart

And isn't this, family and friends, the very mystery of love? That what was already complete, what will always be a solitary soul, could still—through grace—receive the gift of love: the gift that will never be deserved, that is, the gift of the Beloved.

Jan and Sandra: behold, you give yourselves to each other, but the mystery in this gift and that giving is that you receive each other as well. And is this not the real blessing?

But we all know that we mere mortals cannot do this alone. That is the why the priest this afternoon said (or if he didn't, should have said) that God will always have to be at the center of your marriage. With Him and in Him, miraculously, you two become not only husband and wife, but one real family.

For if Zeus broke our hearts and made us search throughout the ends of the earth for the lost Beloved, this God is a God Who unites and re-unites what would otherwise be merely lost pieces to the puzzles that we call our lives and our selves.

Through His gift and giving He has re-fashioned and re-created the lives of Jan and Sandra in a way that is already old—for they were meant to be together because they were together before but merely broken into two—and in the way that is new—for they are now newlyweds: a re-union and union between husband and wife.

How is this possible, I ask? What makes this day the first day of a brand new life between the two? Perhaps we can recall what we painfully saw in a scene from The Passion of Christ. With eyes almost blinded by His Blood, burdened by the Cross on His way to Calvary, Christ spoke these word to His Mother: "Behold, I make all things new," (Rev 21:5).

***

On a more personal note, I would like to wish the couple the one thing necessary in a blessed life: and that is Happiness. Again to the both you, I am honored to have been, in one way or another, instrumental—as a bridge, as a crossing—for your own distinct paths to Cross. I shall be thinking of you guys tonight and shall have my own little celebration here.

I offer the newlyweds this toast, so please raise your glasses:

En vino veritas or
“in wine there is truth.” O mas matindi:
May katotohanan sa serbesa’t inuman.

At hindi ba't nakalalasing
ang katotohanan ng pag-iibigan
nila Sandra at Jan-Jan?

Cheers!


Delivered on the 22nd of July

Comments

  1. Sorry to be knitpicking but your explanation of "androgynous" is wrong.
    The "andro" part comes from the word "aner" which means "man" in Greek and "gynos" comes from the word "gyne" wich means female in Greek.

    ReplyDelete
  2. thank you, daniel, for the correction. I appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete

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