On Memorial day we often think of those who gave everything so that others could enjoy the normal pleasures of human life, especially the love of family. It has also become a day when loveless political bullies bluster at some already-stigmatized set of people unlikely to hit back. Their cowardly ugliness hardens our social spaces and hurts people who have already been hurt by their families. It continues partly because they rarely go after groups that can’t easily hit back. They don’t attack older white heterosexual married hospital executives. Or ordained Baptist ministers. Like me. I recently presided at the wedding of two kind women whose hearts had found each other. Why would they be attacked and not me? Because bullies are weak, the kind of people the heroes of memorial day faced down.
I wore the robe and read from the Bible my mother gave me upon my ordination:
“You can see, feel and hear that the whole universe sings, hums, buzzes and claps its hands on this happy day. We signed the North Carolina State marriage license before the ceremony to get the government out of our family affairs. So why do a marriage ceremony at all? The State permits love, but only a sacred event with family and friends cements it.
“We know that some in our hard-hearted world think that these two lovers should not even hold hands, much less be joined in matrimony. So it is important that we support their love for each other from this time forward.
“These two wise and thoughtful women considered their decision carefully; they do not need any wisdom from me about how to live their lives or give themselves faithfully to each other and the world. We can see they know this.
“It important for an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to grant sacred blessing to carefully considered committed love. There are those who would not; those who fear the overflowing love of a wildly abundant God. But if we did not celebrate this love as holy, true and sacred, the rocks, trees and earth would cry out and sing instead. This love and this marriage is of a loving God who has made us to have love and then make commitments and keep them so that love matures over decades as a gift for each other and for each of us who are also blessed by their love.
Anyone could see their natural kind way in the world. They grow things, repair things, clean things, bring stuff into order. They give themselves in labor and skill. They are thrifty, kind and wise; and better at everything because of their union. This is obviously a union made by God, even if some of the family was still getting used to the idea.
I pronounced them married. What God made One, let nobody and nothing separate, especially some loveless bully who wouldn’t know love if it walked up and kissed them on the lips.
We did the wedding in the backyard of our home shared with six hives of mostly girl bees– 150,000 sisters who provided the mead with which we celebrated over dinner
We need lots of love.
Last weekend TC and I were in New Hampshire to dance at another wedding. Like most love, it was improbable and inevitable. This woman and man had been so bruised by earlier marriages that they had given up on love entirely. It fell to their children to encourage them to try again. And love found a way! The wedding ceremony lasted at least three hours with all that Irish, Indian, Bhai, and random 21st century meaning-making had to offer. Fire, flame, music, bubbles, knots, turmeric, dance. We didn’t really need any of it, as there was no possibility of missing the light of love between this man and woman shocked to find themselves loved and cherished by one another. Thank God their kids didn’t give up on them!
There is no way to out-bully bullies. I may be best to ignore them; starving them of the attention and fear they crave. Only their children can reach them, after all.
But it would help for those of us they are not likely to attack, to speak up for love. Especially those of us who they think look like people who agree with them. Instead, we should encourage every bit of every kind of committed love it is possible to nurture, bless and protect.
Love finds a way.