Sunday, October 1, 2017

Quaker Notes

It was a Quaker wedding, the first of these I have ever attended. The couple are a little over half my age, vibrant, brilliant, and beautiful. They are relatively new people in my life, new enough that I admit to being surprised to be included in their special day. And it was special. It was a perfect outdoor wedding, complete with sunshine, a wide variety of wonderfully eccentric guests, the most fun first dance and mother/daughter dance I have ever seen, tremendous food, and a ginger pear alcoholic cider slushie that could easily lead to a joyous coma.

But it was the ceremony that stood out. I have attended many non-traditional weddings in my life. I have officiated quite a number of weddings, my presence in that role alone guaranteeing the non-traditional label. But that’s the thing here. This was a traditional Quaker wedding. It was my unfamilarity with the proceedings that made it seem different. It was wonderful. Quakers believe that no one has greater authority over these matters than anyone else, so there was no officiant. It was a self-uniting marriage, legal in Pennsylvania, where all that is needed is the signatures of the couple and a witness. Instead of a service the couple sat, surrounded by their friends and family. It was silent at first, but then, as the mood struck, people would stand up and speak to the couple. Stories were told. Personal anecdotes were shared. Some were funny. Some bordered on the profane. One man sang a song he had composed for the occasion. All were heartfelt expressions of the love and happiness everyone there felt for the couple. When it eventually became apparent that no one else was going to speak they stood and recited their vows to each other.

What a marvelous thing, to have the people you care most about tell you that they love you, in so many varied and wondrous ways. What better way to embark on a voyage together than to be buoyed up on waves of joy? We all take for granted that our friends care for us, but maybe we need to actually hear it more often. Maybe we all need to tell others more often.

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