This May 23rd, Tom and I will celebrate our Tibetan wedding anniversary, as we have done every May for the past 11 years. In May 2006, Tom and I traveled to China and Tibet on a Feng Shui-focused tour with 21 travelers, many of whom were dear friends. Among those friends were the ones who had had been instrumental in prodding me to set the intention to call in a partner three years prior. And, yes, almost immediately as our journey began, another kind of prodding started: “Why don’t you and Tom get married on this trip?” We laughed and took it lightly, but as the tour progressed, the question persisted. Everyone appeared to be relentless in their conspiring to make it happen.
One evening, several days later, and after the prodding wasn’t diminishing, Tom and I decided to discuss the seemingly outlandish idea! Mind you, we couldn’t conceive of how, when or where a wedding ceremony would take place! But, lo and behold, we found ourselves becoming excited about the prospect. Why not set the intention? The next morning, we shared our decision to get married while on this journey with our fellow travelers. The excitement meter maxed out; the energy level was palpable!
I had traveled to Tibet before and suddenly realized if a wedding was to happen, I wanted it to happen in this very special place. Several days later, we entered Lhasa,Tibet. Located at the bottom of a small basin surrounded by the Himalaya Mountains, Lhasa has an elevation of over 12,000 feet and lies in the center of the Tibetan Plateau with the surrounding mountains rising to 18,000 ft. The air only contains 68% of the oxygen compared to sea level. We were never certain if our breathlessness was due to the reduction in oxygen or because of our excitement!
Upon arrival, our intention was shared with our Tibetan tour guide. He enthusiastically responded he could make it happen! As “luck” would have it, he had been a Tibetan monk in the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred temple in Tibet. When his father died, Tibetan tradition required he return home to assist his mother and go to work to support the family, so he left the monastery and became a tour guide. But, because of his connection, our new friend could arrange for us to have our wedding ceremony in the temple! Imagine!
Suddenly our wedding was a reality and our fellow travelers excitedly took on the role of wedding party. Each had a job to do, including finding a bottle of wine, buying wine cups, locating two long stem red roses, and purchasing a wedding bowl for the rings. (Oh, about the rings: on my first visit to Tibet, in 2002, I bought two special rings, actually the second with the intention that it was for a future partner!)
Carole and Tom Hyder, our tour leaders, accompanied Tom and me through the market outside the sacred Jokhang Temple to find something for me to wear. I purchased a beautiful brocade jacket from a vendor who took pride in being the one who sold me my wedding outfit. Our happiness and the excitement of our group’s energy were contagious. Suddenly it seemed everyone there, tourist and vendor, knew about the pending wedding!
Tom and I wrote our vows and Carole and Tom Hyder, who is an ordained minister, wrote the wedding ceremony. On a stunningly beautiful afternoon, the wedding procession of our fellow travelers was led into a private area of the Jokhang Temple. Just prior to entering, each of us purchased a traditional Tibetan Scarf called a ‘Khata’. It is usually made of white silk and symbolizes the pure heart of the giver. They are given as gifts at special Tibetan ceremonies, such as weddings, funerals, births, graduations, and arrival and departure of guests. Tibetan people commonly give a kind acknowledgment of good luck at the time of presenting the Khata.
The Tibetan monks at the Temple then invited us to participate in a special blessing. Following the blessing, we entered a beautiful ceremonial room where our tour guide had arranged to have monks chanting and drumming. During this 20-minute ceremony, our loving friends and colleagues came, one by one, to share well wishes and blessings as they placed a Khata around our necks. Following the chanting, Tom and I presented the monks with traditional red envelopes containing donations to the Temple. Then it was time to exchange vows.
With our wonderful friends standing as witnesses, Tom Hyder spoke of our sacred ceremony of spiritual union, blending East and West, ancient with modern, and we exchanged our vows and rings. This amazing wedding ceremony, taking place over seven thousand miles from home and in a city that has one of the highest elevations in the world, was stunningly rich with intention and love. We were literally on cloud nine!
Following our procession from the temple, we were taken to a traditional Tibetan restaurant where we participated in a wedding feast. At its conclusion we were presented with a wedding cake – Tibetan style. They weren’t sure how to decorate a wedding cake for westerners and had no traditional bride and groom figures to place on top. So, using what they had, they made it as festive and meaningful as possible. Our cake was decorated with frosting flowers, two cat figures and a lotus-shaped candle that, when lighted, opened and spun around playing “Happy Birthday.” It was perfect! And though Tibet is not a region not known for desserts, the cake was surprisingly delicious.
Tom and I could not have dreamed of this day, let alone planned it! Our wedding was an inspiring example of the power of setting a pure and focused intention, then completely letting go of questioning how it might happen, and avoiding any and all attempts at controlling the outcome! We simply created our intention about what we desired, and shared it with our travel companions, who, in turn, focused their collective intentions on our behalf. From that moment on, an age-old process carried us along effortlessly to culminate in our extraordinary wedding ceremony.
“An intention synchronistically organizes its own fulfillment.” - Deepak Chopra