A Note from the Geranium Farm
This piece, written twelve years ago, reflects on our wedding anniversary, which is today. There have been a few more weddings since it was written, and a few more grandchildren, with one more on the way. Thanks be to God.
AN ANNIVERSARY WALTZ
November 25, 2003
I believe that today is our wedding anniversary.
This date must always be deduced -- we were married on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving moves around. Sometimes we've just given up and celebrated it on that Saturday anyway, no matter what the date. But Q has found that the 25th sticks in his memory, and went across the street to the church to check out the marriage register. Sure enough. It's the 25th.
He bought a new cummerbund and tie for the occasion. I made an off-white dress, in which I now feel I looked like a nurse. Q says that's not true at all, that I didn't look like a nurse, that nurses wear green drawstring trousers and blouses with teddybears all over them, and of course he is absolutely right. But there was a time when they wore white street-length dresses. Like my wedding dress.
Looks aren't everything, though. We decorated the serving table with long garlands of ivy from Q's front yard down the middle, and little white lights peeking out from the ivy. We had a carrot cake as a wedding cake. Rosie was just two years old, and she lay down in the aisle of the church during the ceremony with her legs sticking up in the air. Madeline was so little she slept through it. Corinna read from the First Letter of John. Anna and Mary McCormack sang a Bach aria. Paul Chapman preached on the Beatitudes. My father was still alive and attended with my stepmother. People gave donations to the Center for Seafarers' Rights instead of gifts. It was a wonderful wedding.
Some people there were gay and most were straight. Some were black, although more were white. Most were American, although some were from other countries. Most were middle-aged, although some were elderly and a few were quite young. Most of them are still alive, although some have died.
Q and I were a bit shopworn. We had both failed at marriage before. There was a time -- not that long ago -- when we would not have been able to celebrate our new life together in the Church. To do so would cheapen all marriage vows everywhere, went the argument. It would be an abomination. We had failed, and should not invade the sanctity of marriage as an institution with our failure.
It's different now. The Church is more able to see failure as the seedbed of resurrection. More able to see that people are different from one another, that they can't be summed up in the same way. That the sacrament of marriage is also a contract between two people, and that the sanctity of it is an endowment from God that requires their cooperation with the divine grace. Sometimes people don't cooperate, and they suffer for it, and inflict suffering. But grace abounds.
Some think that marriage between two people of the same gender is an abomination, too. That it damages marriage itself, as the remarriage of divorced persons was believed to do. I can't quite see the exact damage it does, myself: I think that people who don't believe in gay marriage should seriously consider not marrying someone of their own gender, and that then they should leave others alone. Most of us have more than enough sins of our own to occupy our prayer time, without wringing our hands over what we consider the sins of others.
I have been the beneficiary of the Church's decision to allow the spirit of the law to triumph over the letter. It has been life-giving. I cheerfully acknowledge my failures: cheerfully, because Christ has worked within them to help me grow in wisdom, has never closed the door of the future to me, has never turned away and told me it was too late. In Christ, it is never too late.