Recent Comments

    Life’s Crossroads

    howardSummers in San Francisco can be foggy and grey, particularly along the waterfront. So it was a special treat to have the morning fog lift as I was driving with my best friend to a wedding of mutual friends two Sundays ago.

    We arrived early, so we walked around the neighborhood. I wanted to introduce her to Crossroads Café. The café is a vibrant gift and bookstore, as well as a place one can get delicious savory or sweet treats. The frosting on the cake, metaphorically, is that it is run by the Delancey Street Foundation. As quoted from the foundation’s website: “Crossroads Café is a training school…for people who have hit bottom to completely rebuild their lives.”

    I love supporting the café, and I see a connection between principles espoused by the foundation and some of my thoughts on marriage. Let me quote one paragraph from its website:

    “For our residents, Delancey Street is the true crossroads of life. In choosing a new road—the one less traveled—they draw strength from each other and the community. Since our inception, Delancey Street has sought to keep alive the best traditions of America…an extended family, the work ethic, people joining together committed to change, to hard work and a ‘can do’ confidence, to discipline and dignity, to self-respect and service to others.”

    We talked about life’s crossroads as we strolled. My friend wondered how much people who are making wedding vows think about the 50% divorce rate. I replied that couples who join me under the wedding canopy are speaking from their heart. They are reflecting how they see their lives, their relationship at that moment. They are declaring to their partner, their guests and to themselves that they have chosen to travel down life’s road with the person standing beside them.

    But why even participate in an institution that only succeeds half the time? I have commented on the importance and relevance of marriage in many of my columns, including last month’s piece. No surprise, as I am a life cycle officiant! Perhaps the following thought can shed a bit more light on what I am thinking.

    I love abstract art. Oftentimes I can’t describe what it is about a piece that grabs me. By definition, abstract art doesn’t have a recognizable image. Fannie Allen, a local interior designer, was quoted in the SF Chronicle as saying, “Art speaks to you in some way. It’s always about some emotion, something that strikes you—isn’t it?”

    Her comment about art is how I view love and marriage. People get together because they “speak” to each other in some way. The individuals complement (and perhaps compliment!) each other. And if their love appears to be sustainable long term, they may choose to get married.

    The friends who got married that sunny Sunday afternoon ‘speak’ to each other in a multitude of ways. I wish them years of health and happiness.

    Howard M. Steiermann is an Ordained Ritual Facilitator based in San Francisco. For more information, please visit