Via Basel: Green Wedding!

Via Basel, EIL header, Helen.John.Newlyweds-Beth Laurren
Wedding Photo Credit: BethLaurren Photography

This past September, Basel was asked to officiate at the wedding of his son’s dear friend, John. Here is the speech he gave at this joyous occasion, the wedding of  Helen Elizabeth Snarski & John Kertz Griffin, on Saturday, September 6, 2014, Dr. Basel Al-Aswad and Brother Joseph Kilikevice, OP, officiating. 

Dear guests, family and friends of John & Helen: 

Via Basel, Speech, EIL, Ceremony-Beth LaurrenAs we are here today to celebrate the union of these two wonderful people, we may want to know a little about how they got together—in other words ‘their story.’ But first let me explain why I am here along with Brother Joe, officiating, and, no, this is not my day job, nor Joe’s. 

Via Basel, EIL, Basel, Joe, Helen.John.Ceremony-Beth LaurrenI have known John since his freshman year in high school. He was on the soccer team with my son Chris. They soon became friends, good friends, and this continued into college and beyond, even though they lived in different places. Along with their close friend Rob, I got to see John on and off till summer of 2010, when my son Chris tragically passed away. Since then, we have developed a closer friendship and supported each other through the trauma of Chris’s loss. I have grown to like and respect John more and more over the years. As for Helen, I have known her since she started dating John, but honestly I feel I have known her for ages; we connected right away. 

As his friends got married one by one, John was getting worried, and so was I—as you know he is no spring chicken. John’s good friend Doug urged him to join after he had met his now wife, Korrine, on it. Overcoming some skepticism, he decided to try it. Meanwhile, Helen’s adventurous friend Kayla convinced her, over a few glasses of wine, that she was “too good to be single” and signed her up for a membership. 

Via Basel, EIL vertical bower, Beth LaurrenJohn’s curly hair and energetic smile got her attention along with his intriguing profile. Their initial contacts were not very productive and nothing happened. Months later, John was cleaning out his phone and saw PB FUSS. He remembered this was Helen’s profile name; actually, it came from her Schubert family clan license plate meaning, “Lead foot!” 

Remembering the cute girl from but not the meaning, he texted her—“Hey, PB, what’s all the FUSS about?”—thinking he was being witty. Well, his timing was perfect: she already had a date and thought he would be a good warm-up for the real date. It turns out the practice date became the real thing. 

Soon after, Helen left for Ecuador on a two-week mission trip, and they kept in touch. Absence made the heart grow fonder, he picked her from the airport, and they both realized this was serious

Months later, even though Helen had a feeling that he might propose soon, John said things to throw her off.  So when they went hiking in southern Illinois over Labor Day weekend, 2013, John was behind her and yelled, “Hey, Helen, look at me,” she turned around , and he was down on one knee, started laughing, and said, “Gotcha”..!! 

She was not amused. They camped for couple of days and then went to a B & B where they got cleaned up and went to dinner and came back to the rooftop to look at the stars and sip on wine.  Then John went down to the car to get ‘bug spray.’ He was really getting the ring. He came back, started talking about how much he loved her and spending the rest of his life with her, but they’ve had these conversations before so it was not unusual.  All of a sudden he was down on his knee saying, “Helen Snarski, will you marry me?”  

Via Basel, EIL Fireworks at Reception-Beth LaurrenShe thought he was joking again because it was dark and she couldn’t see the box with the ring. She just sat there not responding. 

He said, “I’m not joking, I have a ring.”  She started crying and hugging him and said, “Are you serious?” and he said, “YES!”  She asked him over and over again, hugging and crying, and finally realized she needed to say Yes!! When she did, he asked if she wanted to see the ring and put it on her finger. Under the stars—they were now engaged. 

Via Basel, EIL Helen.Newlyweds-17--Beth LaurrenSo, what does Helen like MOST about John? In her own words—his dedication. To family, work, friends, and to her. He will help anyone when they need it and makes sure to follow up on the things he is going to do. This makes him a great worker, successful businessman, and a devoted and caring fiancé. 

What she likes the LEAST is when he can’t find something, he won’t even look for it. He just says, “Helen, where’s my (whatever he’s looking for) and she thinks (how should I know?) (did you even look for it?) Then she walks him through where he had it last and obvious places to look, blah, blah, blah.  It happens all the time, but she still loves him. 

What about John? He had a hard time telling me the quality he most admired about her as there were so many, but what stands out the most is that she is great at going with the flow of life and not getting overly worked up over nonsense that doesn’t matter, as she’d like to say “developed nation problems.” The only thing that gets to him a bit…is her soap issues; she never rinses the soap off the dishes completely and then, she uses too much soap in the shower, so there is soapy foam all over when she’s done. 

So, all in all, don’t you ALL think they can overcome these minor obstacles, and have a happy everlasting marriage? I think so… 

Via Basel, EIL laughing, kiss, Helen.John.Ceremony-Beth LaurrenFinally, I believe John is the luckiest guy because he has me and Helen looking out for him. Because of his line of work, landscaping, and his wild adventures all over the world, he is prone to bodily injury. Here, I come in handy as an orthopedic surgeon, and, in fact, I have left my mark on him a couple of times.  Helen, who is a nurse, as you all know, and, with experience in pediatric intensive care, is very well qualified to take care of John , if you know what I mean. (ha…ha…) She also has made a few minor repairs on him. I can also say Helen is very fortunate too since I know he loves, respects, and adores her. 

John and Helen, I believe you are absolutely meant for each other. You both are compassionate and down to earth and care about this planet. John, as a landscaper, you care for the plants of the earth. Helen, as a nurse, you care for the people who live on this earth. I have no advice for you, as his holiness the 14th  Dalai Lama has summarized it so well in the previous reading. 

Along with all present, we wish you well. 

Via Basel, Favors, EIL, Helen.John.Details-Beth LaurrenAnd so they were married, via Basel, now a minister of the American Marriage Ministries of Seattle, Washington!

It was a green wedding, outdoors, at the home of John and Helen—a sustainable wedding. The guests were sent home with the gifts of cactus and houseplants as sustainable souvenirs of a lovely occasion! 

The EIL family congratulates the happy couple! 

Basel Al-Aswad at Male Spirit Retreat (with John, the groom) 

Basel Al-Aswad’s daughter’s wedding 

Basel Al-Aswad’s speech at his daughter’s wedding 

Basel Al-Aswad, Circle of Life


Basel for EILBasel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Chris Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body (and also, now, a minister!). His loves in life include reading, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family. 



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