Wednesday, January 30, 2008

15 Years Ago Today...

D and I were married. Well, as the pastor who performed the ceremony told us, we held our wedding. We had already made our decision to be married before that and were going to live into being married for the rest of our lives. "A wedding," he told us, "is simply making public our decision to be married."

Implicit in making public that decision was the an invitation extended to our community to become actively involved in our marriage. I don't think we ever understood marriage to be a private thing, but something that was only ever possible when it was rooted in community. We needed to know that our friends and families were a part of our decision to live together in partnership, to travel this life's journey together as best we could.

Rather than having my father "give me away" (although he did joyfully walk me down the aisle), and rather than asking the congregation if anyone "protested the union," instead we wrote our own litany of promises that extended the words of support out in concentric circles--from our four parents, to our closest friends who were standing with us as members of the wedding party, and finally to the gathered community.

These were the words we composed for that day, the words promised by our loved ones:

Pastor: The marriage of J & D unites two families and creates a new one. Will you, their parents, support D & J's decision to enter into this covenant?

Parents: We will honor their commitment to one another and encourage their love. We offer them our love, our experience, our wisdom, and our prayers.

Pastor: For D & J's marriage to stay strong they will need friends who will rejoice and mourn with them, listen to and guide them. Will you, who stand with J & D today, support their decision to enter into this covenant?

Wedding Party: We will honor their commitment to one another and encourage their love. We affirm them as individuals and as a new union. We offer them our love, fellowship, and a hopeful word.

Pastor: Because D & J will grow in their marriage through interactions with this community, will you, as people of God, support D & J's decision to enter into this covenant?

People: We will honor their commitment to one another and encourage their love. We will be mindful of their need to be nurtured beyond the context of their marriage. We offer them our prayers, our concern, and our help in the future.

Tonight we celebrate quite far away from everyone who attended our wedding. And we are both quite mindful of that reality. If we could, I think we would gather a good number of those who were closest to us, and celebrate the years that have passed since this marriage was made public.

But even with that distance, I'm aware that our parents, our friends, and our community has remained faithful to the promises they made on that day. And I celebrate the ways this partnership has been made stronger because of that.

We will celebrate with someone who wasn't present that day fifteen years ago. In fact, he'll be treating us to dinner tonight, dipping deep into his allowance to do so. Even with the distance from loved ones on the East Coast, I don't think D & I could imagine a better person to celebrate with today!


Amy said...

Happy Anniversary!

When C and I attended your wedding, we knew that we would be getting married at some point. So, I kept your litany, and used it (or some modification of it) as part of our wedding. And, when I perform weddings now, I often suggest this litany as a model for the ways they might want to ask their community for support at such a special, public event.

But, the most memorable part of your the wedding was the bagpipes. I did not see that coming!

Jennifer said...

I found my way here from my friend and college roommate, Amy (above!). I just love this litany, and the images it evokes. My dear partner and I are in a new home (a year and a half), and similarly away from those who promise themselves to us. It can be hard to not feel obviously accountable to anyone--and so I remind myself to reach out and connect when I can. Thank you for reminding me of the value of this!