The following are excerpts from an article written by Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, whose daughter, Logan, married Ali. The full article appeared in The Roanoke Times on May 17, 2015.
My daughter, Logan, was married May 9. I am still marveling at how well a family with traditions from the American South joined a family with traditions from the south of Iran in a wedding that mixed bluegrass music with Persian poetry. The wedding ceremony at Ash Lawn-Highland, James Monroe’s presidential estate outside Charlottesville, brought together family and friends from many states and seven nations to celebrate the joining together of a couple and their families from Virginia and Oregon.
Quotations of love and wisdom from Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, and Marcel Proust, a 20th-century Parisian novelist, in Persian, French and English, reflected the beauty of the ceremony conducted by Nilou Nouri, sister of the groom. As Rumi said more than seven centuries ago, “Love will find its way through all languages on its own.”
Nilou Nouri told the couple during the ceremony, “I am very impressed with how you have embraced each other’s traditions and rich heritage. It is only a testament to your successful marriage together. Who would’ve thought bluegrass music fit so well with a Persian-themed ceremony? But we are all much more similar than we think. Doing a search for the ‘culture of the South’ turned up an exact description of Persian culture!
“It is a loyalty to a place where habits are strong and memories are long. If those memories could speak, they would tell stories of a region powerfully shaped by its history and determined to pass it on to future generations. This day, that the two of you have planned, has elements of both your heritage, as if you have woven from threads of both traditions a fabric that represents who you are together. And what a beautiful fabric that is.”
As the wedding ceremony and reception and music continued, the blending of the cultures and of the families had a magical beauty to it.
I keep thinking of the quote from Proust that Nilou Nouri read, first in French and then in English, at the ceremony before adding sugar and honey and other traditions:
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”