A few summers ago I was asked to perform a wedding. They were friends, the ones getting married, and of course my response was "yes."
Having spent hours in intentional conversation about relationship, communication, theology and the common relational pitfals, the grand event was finally upon us. The dinner after the rehearsal was a vision of heaven. Food and drink were eclipsed in significance only by the sweet fellowship of family and friends who were as joyful for the following days ceremony as any party I have ever witnessed.
Several hundred guests gathered in the garden. They could have been anywhere, but on that night there was nowhere else they would have rather been than witnessing this beautiful couple commit themselves to love and to cherish one another 'till death do them part.
Months later, actually Christmas Eve of that same year, they dropped by our home to wish us Merry Christmas before going to midnight mass. After a quick visit they gifted me with something that will be forever more tangible than what was in the wrapped box they handed me while anxiously saying, "open it now."
I looked up from the torn paper to see their smiles arcing a resevoir for their tears. Susan simply said, "that's who you are, right there." The picture acompanying this blog post was their gift to me that night, taken in June just before their wedding party approached the altar. "That's who you are."
Searching for and then claiming our identity is often a hard found gift. My friends knew of my previous year, resigning from a tumultuous pastorate to subsequently languish on the shores of vocational and career crisis. I had labored to answer that question of identity. They had labored too.
Which is why standing at their altar with my prayer book in hand to confer a blessing was such an eloquent intersection. Susan and Jennifer had known of the identity question too. They were bride and bride. Wife and wife. Mother and mother.
Identity. We claim it. Sometimes we run from it. And sometimes it slips past us and changes even our most intimate view of ourselves. And sometimes, someone else helps us to see something in ourselves that we thought was lost.
So, Jenn and Susan? They are still doing the hard and necessary work of raising kids and having jobs and being married and evolving into a more authentic version of the identity God created for them. Me too. I'm preaching again, constantly wondering about how exciting and exacting a toll spiritual change can be. I can't say I have a crystal clear vision of the road ahead, but of being a minister who helps couples of all shapes and sizes approach the matrimonial altar with intention, purpose and grace, of that I am glad to say "this is who I am."
South Carolina Wedding Officiant