Saturday, September 12, 2009
Salve Festa Dies
We went to a wedding in Allston this afternoon. Well actually it was in Watertown, but the two principals were our Allston neighbors, Rita and Carol. And actually it wasn't a wedding--it was a blessing of their relationship, 45 years strong and counting. But it sure felt like a wedding, with clergy joining their hands and saying prayers over them. Or maybe an anniversary, since at their ages the honorees were somewhat more retrospective than the average bridal couple. But whatever it was, it couldn't have been more celebratory, and in a number of details I found it full not only of joy but of interest.
First of all the location--not a church but the VFW hall. Rita and Carol are lifelong Catholics, but pairs of ladies don't get married, or even blessed, in Catholic churches. And the priests included a man and a woman who were themselves married to each other. Something odd in this picture. And a nun, who actually presided as if she were a priest. When we all joined in the blessing, we did so in the name of God, but also of the Goddess Sophia. So while in many respects it felt like a traditional Catholic service, these clergy are American Catholics, and they are moving the Church, as the Spirit moves them, in new and interesting directions.
And then there were the invitees and onlookers, family, friends, neighbors, including two of our children, who are Rita and Carol's godchildren, and like some others in the room, part of the sizeable cohort of children they cared for in their family day care. In short, it was the sort of gathering you would expect in a traditional neighborhood, where people live their entire lives in the house they were born in, as Rita has done. It is true that on the dance floor there were more couples of women than of men and women. Chatting, I heard about Rita's nephew's recent wedding from his new husband, and there was at least one couple of young wives. We in Massachusetts are perhaps a little ahead of the curve in the forms of sociability we encourage.
For all the innovations, though, the whole event, I want to say, was deeply conservative, from the boards of photographs preserving memories back through the last century, to the half-century-old recordings of crooners played by the DJ. And above all in the accounts of how Rita and Carol's lives are woven into the fabric of our durable little community. Family, church, community--these are the conservative values that were broadly in evidence, slightly reconfigured to suit the occasion, but not so much you wouldn't recognize them. It was a beautiful occasion--and I know that's something people say, but in this case it was true--and we came away enriched. L'Chaim.