Today we met with the minister who will be officiating our wedding, and his wife. Tim was a counselor for Vietnam War veterans, and was deeply affected by the trauma of their experiences. He & Peg decided to, in his words, “create their own reality” by founding what is now a 350 acre Deep Ecology Learning Center and Preserve where they live in a home they built from recycled materials and teach workshops. They also play music together in their band, Harp and Harmony. Needless to say, they’re really cool people. Since the weather was nice, we went over the order of service on lawn chairs in the sun, next to their giant garden. Their polydactyl cat, Mittens, scampered around and afterward they showed us their collection of roadside-scavenged workout equipment, which they house in a lean-to that serves as their home gym.
Tim is a Unitarian Universalist minister, retired after serving for 30 years at the UU church I used to attend (only, I attended after he retired). I have sort of mixed feelings about Unitarian Universalism, but Tim & Peg embody what I would consider some of the best aspects of the religion. Ultimately, I felt a need for something different, and David & I began attending the local Quaker Meeting.
“Unprogrammed” Quakers are a branch who do not have ministers, and as you can imagine, their services, including weddings, are radically different. We went to one at our Meetinghouse a couple years ago. It was very much like a usual Sunday Meeting, in that we all gathered into silent worship. But at one point, the couple stood up and announced their intention to be husband and wife. After that, all of their friends & family were invited to give their blessings in the manner of vocal ministry, which is where you speak as you feel led (ideally as led by Spirit/God, but in a mixed gathering like this, as led by internal prompting, probably), leaving space after each comment for the words to sit. It was interesting, and actually really lovely to hear all the good things that people were saying about the couple. It was almost like a funeral, where people say really great things about their loved ones, only the recipients of those compliments were here to hear them.
Still, we decided we wanted something a little more ritualized. Also, legally we can’t get married without a minister present, since we are not members of the Quaker Meeting, only “attenders”. (We aren’t ready to commit to that yet, and honestly, I’ve done a terrible job at attending. I have health issues where I feel pretty terrible most mornings, and I have a really hard time getting anywhere in the morning on a regular basis.)
So things are lining up okay as far as “wedding planning” is concerned. We made a conscious decision to keep things very pared down, and have only invited People Who Lived in Our House When We Were Growing Up, or People Who Are The Minister/Minister’s Wife/Co-clerks of Our Meeting. That’s ten people, total, including us. We are focusing most of our preparation on home improvement projects so our home looks nice for David’s family’s cross-country visit. Regardless of whether it’s traditional wedding stuff (like the cake order we placed today) or if it’s something like recaulking the bathroom sink, it feels good to have things crossed off the list.
I’ll keep you updated, readers!