Father B

January 14, 2013 Memoriesslave drewVanilla Life  6 comments

I am going to post tonight something I wrote earlier today.

The minister who married us is leaving the church.

Yes, I was married in a church and the ceiling did not fall down on us.

I wore a leather pillbox hat and leather gloves I’d been given as a piece of earned leather.

I’m not really a Christian at all – I don’t honestly know how I’d define myself, it changes nearly daily.  But we both wanted a fairly traditional ceremony, none of the unity candle and vows we wrote ourselves.

slave drew grew up in an Episcopalian church, and that was where we went to be married.

We were very lucky, our minister was a lovely man, and a wonderful speaker, and is now leaving us for the greener pastures I always knew would beckon.

We in the congregation were asked to write something for him to be bound in a book to present him when he left, and this is, with some editing, what I sent.  I thought you all might enjoy my memories of his sermons.

I didn’t refer to him as slave drew in what I sent.

What I sent is this:

When slave drew and I had decided to marry, we were looking for a location, and someone suggested this church.  I made an appointment to talk to Father B.

It was important to both of us to have some traditional aspects to our wedding.  We didn’t want to be married in a place we’d never been before, by a person we’d never seen before, and wouldn’t see again.  We wanted to be married by someone who had history with us, and for us, and we have never been sorry that we made the choice we did.

Father B took some of the things we talked about in the counseling we did with him before the wedding, and his wedding sermon was something that a lot of guests mentioned to us later.

We married later than most – I was 50, slave drew was 48, and we both felt very strongly that we would remain separate people, we were not 20 years old and foreseeing our future as two lives becoming one, but as our lives moving together, but remaining separate, and that was something he talked about, in ways that were both meaningful and accurate.

He had listened to us and understood how we saw the path forward.

Some of Father B’s sermons have stayed with both of us over the years.

He spoke once about grief.  His father-in-law had passed away, and he spoke about how the fall of a giant redwood left a jagged hole in the earth, and a hole in the canopy above, but the hole in the canopy allowed light to reach the ground and new seedlings to flourish.

Over time, the hole remains, but the edges grow less sharp and ragged and as the hole fills with rain it creates a pool that reflects the moon above.  It provides water for the life around it, and the fallen tree gives shelter as well.

I have thought of that often when I have lost people over the years since he spoke about it.

He spoke another time, when the financial crisis was happening around us and it felt as though the world was ending.

He used the example of a day when, in the early years of this country, probably due to a storm and other factors, the sun appeared not to rise.  One of the state senates was in session, and there was a great call to end the session and go home, to be with their families when the world ended.

The speaker’s voice of reason prevailed.

If the world was not ending, he said, then there was no profit in leaving their jobs, and if the world was ending, then he believed that they should meet God doing their work, doing as they ought.

It was a truly comforting parable at a time when it did feel as though the world just might be ending.

The final sermon that I do think of often, and I expect I always will, was a Christmas eve sermon one year.

He spoke about a farmer who had a devoted wife who went off to church, but the husband begged off and stayed home, because he didn’t see the point.

While his wife was gone, a flock of geese landed in his field, sent to ground by a sudden storm.

The farmer realized the birds would freeze in the field if he couldn’t bring them into the warmth and the safety of the barn, where they would be safe from the cold and the wind.

But he had no way to make them understand that he meant them no harm, that his only purpose in approaching them would be to lead them to safety.

If only, he thought, if only he could clothe himself in feathers, if only he could present himself as one of the flock, so they would follow his lead and he could gather them into the safety of his enclosure.

That was why, he concluded, Christ had come to us as a baby, and as a man, so we would follow him as one of our own kind, so he could draw us into the safety of his enclosure.

What I didn’t add was that there were other things that mattered to us, too, the fact that there was a Lesbian couple who attended the church, and that their daughter stood in for the Christ child in one Christmas pageant.

The baby cried during the whole thing, but really, how many people would have picked the child of the dyke couple?

Another time his wife posted a photo on Facebook of him officiating at a wedding that was clearly and without question between two women.

He’s an Episcopal Rector, this was not going to make him friends in every sector.

We had, as you might imagine, a lot of gay people at our wedding.

We had transgendered people.

We had a kinky dwarf.

I swear.

(And he would be the first to use that particular term.  Once at an event he sang the Oompa Loompa song.  I told someone that and they asked, shocked, did you laugh?  Well, of course I did, I’m pretty sure that’s why he SANG it.)

And Father B was perfectly lovely to every one of them.

He was also SO submissive that the times he and I had conversations about the wedding or a project I did for the church once, I would have to not only stop speaking but remain totally silent for several seconds before he would speak at all.

He was a lovely man, and I’m sorry he’s leaving, but that is purely selfish on my part.  I’m sure it’s a better move for him, but I will still miss him.

6 comments to Father B

  • monkey  says:

    This was absolutely lovely.

    • MsConstanceExplains  says:

      Thank you. I will truly miss his sermons, and you don’t often say that, do you?

  • jadescastle  says:

    i have/had (more had) a faith that would excommunicate me. This was heart warming. It is important to remember that individual teachers can, and do, work to teach love and acceptance. i imagine that everyone at your wedding felt that. Love is the healing art.

    Also, i love, love, love the idea of you in leather gloves on your wedding day. 🙂

    • MsConstanceExplains  says:

      Father B tried for several years to get me baptized – I never was as a child. The last time he asked, I would have, but couldn’t manage it at that time. What won me that time was his basically saying, you know, you don’t have to not have doubts, you don’t even have to specifically believe, but you can still be baptized and be a part of that community. I thought that was very insightful.

  • Wordwytch  says:

    Father B sounds like a delightful soul. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    As for the leather gloves. 🙂 I think it’s grand that you did.

    Wolf and I helped at a pagan handfasting nearly 9 years ago. I was priestess, and Wolf was the Guardian. A friend of ours was the priest. Once the ceremony was over, he looked at us and asked, “Are you two next?” Wolf and I both declined, but as I finished picking up the last few items to be packed away, there was our dear friend ‘waving his hands over us’ in blessing. His way of saying… “well, you should be married, and here’s my blessings.” We’ve always joked about that day, but even now, we are far more ‘married’ than the couple who were handfasted. Funny that…

  • MsConstanceExplains  says:

    We honestly got married as much for legal reasons as anything else – we could take care of so many issues in such a simple way, that it made sense. I still think of the M/s relationship as the primary one, the legal marriage is secondary to that, for me.

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