About 6 years ago, my good friend and her fiancé called to ask if I would officiate their wedding. I was incredibly honored and immediately said an enthusiastic. “YES!”
As what I had agreed to do slowly set in, I realized that I felt insecure about performing a wedding ceremony given that I’ve had so little experience in long-term partnerships. I resolved to place my faith in my friend and her partner because they had asked me and I trust them to know what they want.
I went about preparing for their wedding by buying books on creating wedding ceremonies, asking others who have performed marriage ceremonies, and by vowing to learn as much about them as a couple as I could in the next months. I threw my heart and soul into doing the very best job that I could. In hindsight, I think this is maybe why they picked me because they knew I would give the honor, time, respect, and fun that a celebration of their love deserved.
A gift that I never expected was that this was a deep prayer for me and a refueling of my own faith in love. Allowing myself to witness and be bathed by their love and their community was absolutely beautiful.
I admit that is sometimes hard to go to wedding after wedding, all the wedding showers, bachelorette parties, baby showers, anniversaries, etc. when you are still waiting, praying, and wondering if your life will ever include a partner. Given the choice between hard feelings and immersing myself in the celebration of love though, I usually end up choosing wisely for myself.
Today on their 5 year anniversary, I remember their wedding day vividly. I remember the moments at the front of the room with my beautiful friends. I remember taking deep breaths to calm my nerves, my face quivering as I smiled, and the way my voice sounded through the mic as I spoke in front of all those people. It was a whirlwind, but the visceral experience of all the love in the room was off the charts. It carried me through and I did my job well.
Ever since the southern mother of the groom met me at the door on the day of the wedding shower and exclaimed, “Oh! You’re the preacher!” I was The Preacher.
In a way, I will always be The Preacher. It’s one of my internalized identities now. I cherish Preacher Abby. I’m proud of myself for rising to this opportunity and for continuing to have faith in myself, in love, and in the people who love me. I am always learning to trust love in all its many forms.
I’m grateful for this gift I was given to be an integral part of this day. Below is my sermon on love for my friends on their wedding day:
All ceremonies are an opportunity for each person involved to make a better intention or prayer for their lives. There is always room, and time, to make our next better intention. It’s how we all keep moving forward.
Each of us here today are cherished threads intricately woven throughout the lives of Caroline and Barry over the years. We have all come together for this marriage ceremony to continue weaving a new tapestry that is the conjoined expression of both their lives, families and ancestries.
As I, and all of you, have been able to witness, their love is down to earth. It’s kind, welcoming and nurturing. Their love will drive miles out of the way for the best bacon and eat a pre-breakfast at a bookstore along the way because that’s just how they are together. Caroline and Barry love all of us just as we are with all of our quirks, oddities and defects. And they love each other in the same sweet, funky, covered in pet hair while making coffee on a Sunday morning kind of way.
What makes this kind of love worthy of a whole year of planning this one day and this ceremony is that it’s one of the ways we can access and understand the divinity in ourselves and in each other. When we see ourselves through eyes that are deeply in love, we can feel how love is the root of all time and space. It’s rare, miraculous, and it’s all around us all the time.
A marriage ceremony is one of the biggest prayers a couple can make for their life together. It’s a prayer to keep making a better prayer with each other every day. To honor and trust that, in each day and each moment, we are all making the best prayer and intention that we can for our lives.
It’s vulnerable, and it takes courage, to open our hearts in this way; to love and to receive the love that our partner has for us.
May we all who witness this marriage acknowledge and remind them of their bravery often. May we celebrate the deepening of their love with them and be advocates for their love, should they ever feel challenged or find themselves in doubt.
The truth about Caroline and Barry is this:
They give each other the love in the way that they like it.
They are medicine for each other.
They have each found the person that brings them to their knees; the one that makes them want to soften, open and allow more love always.
We feel it when we are in the presence of two people who love each other. It’s a palpable force that connects and envelopes, stretching and dancing between them. It can soften even the most protected hearts and bring smiles to our faces.
As Caroline and Barry’s loved ones and community, they ask us to witness and to be with them on their journey of marriage. As their love grows and ages over the arc of time, we will support their Highest Selves in the True Partnership they co-create with each other, moment to moment, day to day, and year to year.
This past January, I was in a bookstore with Caroline & Barry. I pulled a book of Rumi poetry off the shelf and opened it to this poem titled: On a day when the wind is perfect.
“On a day when the wind is perfect
the sail just needs to open
and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.”
The poem goes on, but ends with this line:
“There is a breeze that can enter the soul.”
Today the wind is a perfect breeze of love and the world is full of beauty. Would you like to get married today?