On Saturday, it will be exactly four weeks to our wedding day. After five decades where I was told, taught, and raised to think that marriage was meant for some but not all, I finally get to have my own partnership blessed in the church. Three amazing priests will be have to keep me from crying the entire hour as I stand, kneel, and walk in a daze.
It's not really a dream come true. A dream is when you imagine something possibly happening. I never had these dreams because I didn't think it was possible. That's how oppressive it felt to me. I was unimaginative and thought that God and society only worked in limited ways. That God wasn't all powerful and all loving because that God was boxed in by our definitions and legalisms. But, like some dreams, the creative mind hits you by surprise and suddenly you find yourself sweating at the all too real possibilities.
My theological and faith journeys have led me to know, just know, that if marriage equality came to my church, my state, my home, I would want to my partnership to be consecrated with the solemnity that such a union merits. I grew up watching priests bless homes, pets, rosaries, schools, plumbing, bibles, and even sewer pipes. Certainly something as important as a loving commitment to another person should receive an important blessing. Until the last few years, this was just not so, and I like others watched inanimate objects receive God's favors, while my love was left behind.
The changes have been all too wonderful for me. But it's not for some gay people.
I've met many couples and singles who aren't rushing to get married or who find the focus on marriage equality discomforting. Of these, there are couples who don't see the need to have a state sactioned marriage in their union. They've worked and functioned as a couple for a long enough time that they don't require the apparent trappings that marriage entails. Some of these couples are even church goers, and they feel satisfied by their current status.
And then of course there's all the single people dream of finding their love but watch as we celebrate gay couple after gay couple. I find it hard to imagine the longing it might bring to them when they attend all their friend's weddings. I know of a few who don't attend weddings simply because it hurts them so much. They feel the sting when we flaunt a ring. They are ignored by the today's media because there are no laws that they're trying to overturn.
Then there's the example from pop-music. Beyoncé's "All the Single Ladies" is sung from the perspective of a woman who wants commitment but doesn't get it from her partner. Furthermore, that partner has hypocritical anger when she goes out to have fun, despite his unwillingness to commit. It's a fun dance number but I always wonder about their conflict in terms of marriage equality. What if one partner wants marriage and the other, because of hurt and anger at society and church, won't marry under any circumstance? I've met a couple like this and they on the surface seem reconciled to their differences, but I do wonder what it means when your concept of unity differs.
I cherish my friends who intentionally or uninentionally remain unmarried. For those who choose to stay unmarried, I pray that they may continue to cultivate the emotional bonds that satisfy them each and every day. Maybe they'll marry some day, maybe they won't. It's the networked loving bonds of family and friends that they value most.
But for those who watch the marriage equality changes and yearn for their role in it, I feel that it's more important to be true to your intended self than simply to be married. The love that can sustain for a lifetime isn't one that magically appears overnight when you find yourself single. It's part looking, part not looking, part intention, part luck. Some think of it as a game that has to be played.
I for one prefer to think of it as a journey. We are all on our individual adventures on this planet. If our trek brings us into communion with God and with another person, then a celebration seems called for, seems appropriate. But the journey doesn't end. It continues.
We're using a unity candle at our wedding. We each will have our own candles and, during the actual wedding vows, we take our candles and light one candle in unison, merging our individual flames into one flame. Unlike other services that I've attended however, we're not going to extinguish the original candles. We're going to keep them lit. I want to think that the spark of life, the magic of the Holy Spirit, as more than a zero sum game. By merging our lives and fire together, we can create more, enlighten more, see more clearly. We spread the Word and the light by sharing our lives and creation both as individuals and as couples.
We merge and create, rather than merge and extinguish.
Singles and unmarried couples have a light to share and I hope my marriage won't mask their joys, their pains, and their journeys. I pray that we all appreciate each other's lives and that our journeys together are of wrapped in beauty, creation, and sustaining love.