From left, Mitch Metzner and Gabe Gelbart at Topanga State Beach on the morning of their wedding on May 4.
On May 4, about 90 friends and relatives arrived at the home that will become Topangas Anam Cara hospice to celebrate the marriage of Mitch Metzner and Gabe Gelbart .
In a few hours, Metzner and Gelbart would be taking their wedding vows in the center of a triple-spiral labyrinth designed in the Celtic triskelion form that symbolizes body, mind and spirit and embodies Anam Caras philosophy.
The day began at Topanga State Beach in a gratitude ceremony performed by Dianne Porchia, and followed by brunch at the Inn of the Seventh Ray.
Between 9 a.m. and almost up to the deadline of 3 p.m., when guests were scheduled to arrive, a group of eight volunteers from AmeriCorps and some guests who arrived early to help, worked feverishly to spruce up the outdoor areas.
You wouldnt believe this place just an hour ago, said Metzners mother, Linda. I thought wed all be stepping around piles of scrap wood and other building materials. But look how clean it is.
Before guests arrived, the deck was completed and the drought-tolerant landscaping in the front yard and around the small pool was neatly accented with pine bark mulch, a far cry from the chaos of construction.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GABE GELBART
From left, Gabe Gelbart and Mitch Metzner walk barefoot through the
labryinth at Anam Cara in a sacred ceremony of prayers and blessings
performed by Tim Redbird, right, with the drum.
Friends bustled about in the small kitchen preparing the vegetarian wedding dinner while whipping up fresh guacamole and salsa that appeared with bowls of chips on tables outside as strangers introduced themselves to one another, Hawaiian-themed drinks in hand.
The day may have been chaos in the morning but turned to serenity and joy into the evening and beyond.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GABE GELBART
Gabe Gelbart, center in black shirt, and Mitch Metzner walk barefoot through the
labryinth at Anam Cara in a sacred ceremony of prayers and blessings performed by Tim Redbird, with the drum.
With the wedding ceremony imminent, guests walked toward the bridge, where Tim Redbird smudged each guest with smoking sage provided by the Chumash village. They were also given a small stone and were instructed to hold it and meditate on a loving intention for Mitch and Gabe.
One by one they crossed over the bridge and walked up a small, dusty hill to walk the labyrinth and, finally, drop the stone into a bowl filled with rose water at the altar in the center.
With the guests settled, some in chairs, some perched on the hillside, many standing, all embraced the circle around the altar. Redbird beat the drum and recited prayers to announce the start of the ceremony to guests and awaken the spirits of the land. Walking barefoot to connect with the land, Mitch and Gabe crossed the bridge to the labyrinth, followed by Redbird in prayer blessing both the land, so full of Native American spirit, and the wedding couple.
Rev. Olivia Bareham officiated the ceremony that was interspersed with selected verses, a Tibetan bowl that was sounded to guide all who gathered in a silent meditation of love and to bless the wedding couple in their life together.
Presence sang a song she wrote about the wedding couple, putting new lyrics to the tune of Leonard Cohens Hallelujah, and all joined in to sing the chorus.
The couple said their vows and were pronounced married. Bruce and Teresa Royer, owners of Tuscali Inn, donated the beautiful courtyard overlooking the Canyon for the vegetarian dinner reception as a wedding gift to their neighbors. Lucys Bake Shop provided a decadent flourless three-tiered chocolate wedding cake. Gelbarts family provided a delicate coconut grooms cake with buttercream frosting that served as a delectable chaser.
ANAM CARA provides volunteer training and no-cost companionship for individuals receiving hospice services at home. We are in the process of remodeling a six-bedroom, inpatient home-away-from-home in a unique, natural setting for a fully supported end-of-life experience.
Donations help fund the cost of renovating the home, landscaping it with California native plants and running the hospice volunteer registry service. Volunteers and in-kind contributions are welcome. We are incorporated as a California non-profit and have applied for IRS 501c(3) status. Tax deductible donations for Anam Cara can be made to our nonprofit fiscal sponsor, c3: Center for Conscious Creativity.