On mawwiage

By Helen Thompson

The details of my engagement are half funny, half touching, but mostly chaotic. I have a feeling the wedding itself will be very similar. Here I am, devout Episcopalian heavily influenced by Buddhist readings I did during my atheist phase, marrying a man who won’t set foot in a church unless I drag him there for some occasion other than worship: a musical performance, a summer cookout, a labyrinth walk, a drum circle, a Cathedral program. When I was toying with formal discernment, he got very excited that I might become a priest for reasons that weren’t exactly the sort of thing I should be sharing with you, gentle readers, but imagine my horror when I found that he had posted exactly that to HIS blog. In the vernacular of the netspeak generation, Oh noes! zomg! Do. Not. Want!

With all the high drama over sexuality in the church (and, for that matter, all the high drama over problems with inappropriate behavior from unexpected corners), it was, however, hilarious. He graciously removed the post when he saw my apoplexy, even though it was, at worst, just PG-13. And probably did more to convince me that even if I was called, my significant other wasn’t really interested so much in my turning my life over to God as how I’d look in a collar. (It bears noting that this happened around the same time I stumbled across Collar This, which was all about clerical dress and needs to be resumed (hint, hint VTS grads who started it.)

But at any rate, now that we’re heading down the aisle, we can’t stop laughing. There’s the idea of having a new wedding each year so that I can ask more of my friends to be bridesmaids, since I’m having trouble cutting myself off and already have six lined up with two more I wish I could include. And none of them are my priest girlfriends, who are so abundant I’ve been joking about letting potential celebrants bid on officiating our wedding on eBay. There’s the fact that my fiancé has insisted on May 4 for our wedding date in celebration of the new moon, which happens to be a Sunday, which may make the celebrant status moot, and for that matter, happens to be Derby Sunday, which inconveniences the numerous horse racing fans that I didn’t know were horse racing fans among my friends.

And I haven’t even figured out where it’s happening, except for the fact that it’s not happening in a church. That’s OK; I mean, my first wedding was in a church and I was pretty much Godless at the time, and that worked out splendidly (hi, ironic tone) despite the pastoral counseling that went in one 21-year-old ear and out the other. Now I’m older and wiser, if a bit heavier, and understand the nifty phrase “functional relationship.” And my fiancé actually wrote about that in his blog, recently, when he became aware that female friends were all giddy over running into him again until they realized that he was off the market, and that my friends were a little curious as to what brought him and I together in spite of our differences. Functional relationship, hands down.

So we’ll get through that marriage thing ok. It will be funny, touching and chaotic. We’ll likely argue over how much church I’m allowed to bring into the service, but a lot of it is overcoming his distaste for his Southern Baptist upbringing. And it’s working, even without the collar; last week, after a wry exchange as I left for church on Sunday in which he said in his best Southern preacher bombastodrawl: “Say hi to Jaysus for me!” I shook my head and laughed, and he added, quite seriously, “One of these days I’m going to have to come with you.”

It trickles down, it does. In lovely ways. The wedding itself isn’t what matters; it’s the marriage that comes after that does. But we’ve got practice, now. We’re comfortable, we influence each other. Invisibly. We finish each other’s sentences, and we have a reasonable shot at having 50 years together. (Church secretary, after asking my date of birth: “Oh my GOSH you’re young!” I guess. This is why I can speak to my teenage son in netspeak. Teh lolz!!!) And I suppose, if I do go through a formal discernment at some point, it won’t matter what I look like in a collar, because I know that I (and I’m lucky to be) loved for who I am.

Thank you, God, for bringing us together.

Helen Thompson, known on the faithblogging circuit as Gallycat, is a writer living in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. A summa cum laude graduate of Temple University, she has written for the Philadelphia City Paper, RevGalBlogPals, Geez magazine and others. Visit her on the web at Gallycat’s Lounge.

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