Non-Biblical Readings


Non-Biblical Readings



Would you marry?
Then you must give everything you have.

Would you marry?
Then everything you have will be what you gain.

Would you marry?
Then you must walk unafraid in a strange land.

Would you marry?
Then be sure that you’ll recognise all you see.

Would you marry?
Then you will become an open book.

Would you marry?
Then you will become a tale yet to be told.

Would you marry?
Then you must sing a different song.

Would you marry?
Then two voices will sing as one.

Mary-Ann Tracey (1934 -   )

These I can promise

I cannot promise you a life of sunshine;
I cannot promise riches, wealth or gold;
I cannot promise you an easy pathway
That leads from change or growing old.

But I can promise all my heart’s devotion
A smile to chase away your tears of sorrow;
A love that’s ever true and ever growing;
A hand to hold in yours through each tomorrow.


Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)


The Life that I Have 

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

     Leo Marks

The Confirmation

Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited for this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that’s honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea.
Not beautiful or rare in every part.
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.

Edwin Muir (1887 – 1959)


On Marriage

Then Almitra spoke again and said, ‘And what of marriage, master?’
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death
scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you
be alone
Even as the strings of the lute are alone although they quiver
with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.


from The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran(1883 - 1931)



The Art of Marriage

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.  A good marriage must be created.  In the Art of Marriage: the little things are the big ones.  It is never being too old to hold hands.  It is remembering to say ‘I love you’ at least once a day.  It is never going to sleep angry.  It is at no time taking the other for granted.  It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.  It is standing together facing the world.  It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.  It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.  It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.  It is cultivating flexibility, patience understanding and a sense of humour.  It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.  It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.  It is finding room for the things of the spirit.  It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.  It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.  It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.



I’ll Still be Loving You

When your hair has turned to winter
and your teeth are in a plate,
when your getter up and go
has gone to stop and wait –
I’ll still be loving you.

When your attributes have shifted
beyond the bounds of grace,
I’ll count your many bkessings,
not the wrinkles in your face –
I’ll still be loving you.

When the crackle in your voice
matches that within your knee
and the times are getting frequent
that you don’t remember me -
I’ll still be loving you.

Getting old is not a sin,
it’s something we all do,
I hope you’ll always understand –
I’ll still be loving you.

                                                    C. David Hay (1936 -   )



I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing why, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. 

Pablo Neruda (1904 – 73)
translated from the Spanish by Stephen Tapscott.


Take me, accept me, love me as I am;
Love me with my disordered wayward past;
Love me with all the lusts which hold me fast
In bonds of sensuality and shame.
Love me as flesh and blood, not the ideal
Which vainly you imagine me to be;
Love me, the mixed-up creature that you see;
Love not the man you dream of but the real.
And yet they err who say that love is blind.
Beneath my earthy, sordid self your love
Discerns capacities which rise above
The futile passions of my carnal mind.
Love is creative. Your love brings to birth
God’s image in the earthiest of earth.

                                              Robert Winnett (1910 – 89)

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.


Beauty that is never old

When buffeted and beaten by life’s storms,
When by the bitter cares of life oppressed,
I want no surer haven than your arms,
I want no sweeter heaven than your breast.

When over my life’s way there falls the blight
Of sunless days, and nights of starless skies,
Enough for me, the calm and steadfast light
That softly shines within your loving eyes.

The world, for me, and all the world can hold
Is circled by your arms; for me there lies,
Within the lights and shadows of your eyes,
The only beauty that is never old.

James Weldon Johnson (1871 – 1938)


Such love I cannot analyse;
It does not rest in lips or eyes,
Neither in kisses nor caress.
Partly, I know, it’s gentleness

And understanding in one word
Or in brief letters. It’s preserved
By trust and by respect and awe.
These are the words I’m feeling for.

Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
The giving comes, the taking ends.
There is no measure for such things.
For this all Nature slows and sings.

Elizabeth Jennings  (1926 – 2001)
Love’s Insight



Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because that is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of (promises of) eternal passion…. That is just ‘being in love’, which any fool can do.


Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres
And man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
in summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
older than plasm altogether is the soul of a man underneath.


And when, throughout all the wild orgasms of love
slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
of two human hearts, two ancient rocks, a man’s heart and a woman’s,
that is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
the sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.

from ‘Fidelity’, D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)