Quaker weddings, at least in the unprogrammed tradition, are magic. Unlike any other kinds of weddings that I know of, the couple declare their vows to each other, without an officiating minister, in the belief that only God can marry them. Then, those present, all of whom are considered ministers, can speak out of the silence, offering prayers, wishes and comments regarding the couple and the marriage. Afterwards, everyone signs the marriage certificate, stating that the marriage occurred. Magic.
On Saturday, I attended the Quaker wedding of two men at a lovely old meetinghouse not too far from here. It was truly an honor for me to be there. Not only was one of the men, Joe, a wonderful man and good friend of mine, and not only have I gotten to know and like his clearly cherished partner. This was the first gay wedding that I’ve attended.
But it turned out to be so much more. As the wedding went on, it turned out to be not just a nice ceremony with good friends. It became more and more evident, like the increasing heat in the room, oven-like, on the very hot day (when I marry, it will be in January!), that God was definitely present and very much in approval. Clearly - as much as I’ve ever felt - this was an act of God, done through those of us who were present. It was also oh-so clear that God is all about love and delights in it, revels in it, and that the couple being two men didn’t matter in the least. As long as there is mutual love, that’s all that God cares about.
I was very moved by the many messages coming out of the silence, testifying to the rightness of the marriage. There was the woman who thanked the couple for giving her young children a powerful example of putting Quaker belief into action, and I especially loved when one man reminded us that early Quakers signed the marriage certificate because they were breaking the law (not being in "the Church") and needed strength in numbers. We were still breaking the law here in California, where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized.
This all packed quite a whallop. I got to the meetinghouse very early, having been warned that seats were at a premium, and I knew right away that I was in trouble, that I would cry - and not just because there were boxes of Kleenex placed every few feet. I made it until the very end when we sang (unusual in an unprogrammed meeting) "Great Spirit, Joy of Earth and Sky," as the couple had requested. How could I not cry? Two days later, there are times still when I can barely keep from crying.