On Saturday the 26th, Lisa Churchill and Susan Forsburg reaffirmed their wedding vows as their marriage was blessed at St Paul’s. These are Lisa’s thoughts, on the morning after. Photo courtesy of Hannah Wilder.
Here this morning after our Blessing, I feel calm and complete. I have my wife, my cat, my aunt, my knitting—all is good! Trite as it may sound, yesterday truly was a dream come true. We keep marveling that five years ago, we could never have imagined this happening. Of course between now and then, so much has changed. I’ve found a happiness I didn’t know existed, let alone considered possible for me—civilly divorced from my (again) best friend and father of my children; civilly married to my soul mate… which much of the world simply doesn’t understand, at best. Today, that part of the world is distant, as we bask in the warmth of belonging, the comfort of family that the community of St. Paul’s has become for us.
When we married in 2008, it was festive and fun, filled with relatives and friends, at a lovely location on San Diego Bay. It was also during a conflicted time in my spiritual life, as a member of “that other catholic church.” The very morning of our wedding, rejection and invective was hurled at me as proxy for a whole swath of humanity via an angry little priest in Little Italy. The pain and anger of that morning was healed yesterday by an abundant outpouring of love and acceptance and inclusion.
I want to hold and cherish every moment of the memory! It began with breakfast out and anxious glances at the heavens, wondering if the predicted cold, wet weather would dampen our plans. We dressed and headed to church early to “dress” the tables in the Great Hall. We used the decorations from 2008—shells, candles, and glass beads—arranged a little differently, and combined with framed pictures from that day. Soon the time came to move to the nave. The chancel was lovely with its extra sconces; the organ sang under Martin’s expert hands. After some exuberant bell ringing, we walked down the aisle with our friends, from verger to clergy, and I felt the first welling of joyful tears. More friends presented our chosen readings: Ruth and Naomi’s covenant; Paul advising the Romans to “hold fast to what is good,” by loving; and John’s account of Jesus’ first miracle, at Cana.
When Scott began the homily, he first invoked those who couldn’t be with us, particularly Susan’s recently passed father and my own parents, gone for many years. As he passed the box of tissues, he reminded us that our parents were certainly there with us in spirit. He went on to thank all the people, present and not, who had made this day possible by their tireless fight for what is right and good—celebrating the union of two people in love, regardless of gender—and voicing the certainty that some day, it won’t be the minority who “get” us and people like us. Turning with a twinkle to our readings, he shared that he enjoys teasing out the truths revealed in the couple’s choice of scripture (many of us grinned, recalling “heaping coals on the heads of enemies” in Paul’s epistle). As ever, Scott’s analysis helped me see aspects I’d not noticed before. He spoke of the abundance evident in the Gospel—180 gallons is a lot of wine!—and how that related to hospitality… which ties in to the themes of honor and loving in Romans… and ultimately it’s about Covenant: not simply us with one another, but in relation with God. I loved his recounting the saying that the only argument a married couple should have is, “what would you like…?” “No, what would YOU like…?” The most amazing thing about the whole homily was that it was intimately directed to and about us, as if it were just the three of us there.
When we moved on to the Blessing ritual, I happily felt the gravity of, “as long as you both shall live,” and joyfully responded, “I do.” (In our civil wedding, our vows were much more free-form, and while it made the same level of promise, saying “I do” in this formal way brought the weight of tradition.) I kept looking at my beautiful bride and feeling like I needed to pinch myself, that this communal Grace was actually happening!
Allisyn looked quite fierce as she admonished no one to put asunder what God has joined. Then, kneeling for the Blessing itself, I found myself wishing I had hung on to one of those hankies that came out at the homily. Sealing it, our friend Charlotte sang us the wedding blessing from Ptolemy. I’m tearing up again, now, just remembering it!
While the liturgy of the Eucharist was a familiar form, wonderfully chanted in Allisyn’s soft soprano, it was made truly awe-filled for me as I was invited to elevate the Blood during the doxology. It was a feeling not unlike that I’ve felt on my two occasions as a chalice bearer, bringing this saving gift to others.
It was over in an instant, it seemed, but as we processed out, organ trumpets triumphant, I’d never felt so alive, so lifted up, so happy. Together with our church family, we celebrated US, with readings and liturgy and community, and invited God to be manifest in our union. Thank you all, for welcoming us home.
Susan’s thoughts on the day can be read here. We’ll add photos when they are available!