It's been a while since I've attended a wedding, the days of having four or five to go to in a month are long gone. Now that I'm in my late forties, those of us that are still single swear that if we ever take the plunge we will do it tastefully and with little fanfare -- we'll see.
At any rate, I had the good fortune to be invited as the guest of a good friend to a wedding that was executed to perfection. The bride had planned everything down to the smallest detail and it showed in the programs, the ribboned wands, the bows and flowers decorating the pews and most of all in the beautiful bridesmaid dresses (chocolate brown gowns) and groomsmen's tuxedos. The bride was glowing as she walked down the aisle and unlike so many others I have seen, she truly looked relaxed and happy this day had finally come. As they made their way to the alter the bright autumn sun glowed through the stained glass windows making me almost wish I was still a Catholic.
And then the Priest began the ceremony.
At first I wasn't sure he had said what he did, he was in the midst of one of many blessings he was bestowing on the couple and mentioned something about marriage ONLY being a union between a man and woman. I gave a sideways glance to my friend who did not register alarm so I figured I had not understood what he said.
As the bride and groom were seated, the elderly white haired Priest slowly made his way to the pulpit where he began a longer talk about the meaning of marriage. He paused and then said, "Our Governor, David Patterson, wants to pass legislation to make same sex marriage legal..." I felt a wave pass through the pews as the Priest went on to declare in no uncertain terms what the position of the Catholic church was on this subject and he urged all of us to vote against any measures to grant equal rights to same sex couples. I'm not sure what was more troubling, the fact that he assumed we were all straight or that we were all Catholic.
A few moments later he said, "all you ever need to know about love you can learn by looking up there," and he pointed to the huge crucifix of Jesus on the cross.
"Indeed," I thought. It is one thing to talk about love and compassion and a whole different thing to actually practice it. While I have my issues with organized religion, I have never taken issue with the message of Christ and his teachings, for what is truly more radical than believing in the power of love?
As anyone knows, love comes in all shapes and sizes and in many forms. It should be honored and celebrated as often as possible. I guess you could say that when it comes to people loving each other I don't have an agenda except that with love comes respect. Love opens you up to possibility, it makes you want others to have what you have, and it forgives those who do not understand its' power.
I was reminded of this at the reception a few hours later, where the guests formed a circle around the bride and groom and clapped as they danced together and kissed. There we were, strangers, friends, families, parents, gay, straight, couples, singletons and children, all of us sinners and saints, flawed and fallible, celebrating the joy that only comes when you let love in. I'm not sure if the Priest would have approved but I'm pretty sure Jesus would have been right there with us.