20 March 2013

Touched By An Unknowing Angel

OK, it's been another long time.  Blame it on Facebook where quick retorts and ripostes make writing a form of verbal hors d'oeuvres (literally, 'without work"). 

But then something happened on Sunday that is worth a story.  In fact, I will copy this once it is done and paste it into my diary which is almost a week overdue.

It is overdue because I went away for a few days.  The reason was to perform a wedding for a woman I met 19 years ago in my previous church.  She was single then, and very lonesome.  For a time she was partnered with a woman in the congregation but that was n not a life match.  Then she moved away, far away, abandoning her old life and every hope of finding lasting love.  As often happens, that is exactly when love strikes, and she has been in a 'uncommon law' marriage since. 

But this was a woman who had dreamed of a wedding even before she realized she was not hetero.  So when New York became a place of legal same sex marriage, she jumped at it and invited me to do the deed.  Which I did, making it my first legal same-sex marriage.  I loved signing that license even if I think clergy shouldn't have that power in the first place.

But the story I want to tell is not about the wedding.  Weddings are all the same, really.  Nervous brides, stammering grooms, beaming parents, little girls in dresses and men uncomfortable in formal clothes. The story happened the day before, on Sunday.

I went to my old church.  Quietly slipping into the back pew, seen by just a few and holding my finger over my lips to say 'please don't tell,' I enjoyed watching a service in a place I never got to sit and watch.  Whenever someone I knew seemed to look in my direction I averted my eyes and hope my shorter hair and glasses kept them confused.  It has been eight years since I left, after all.

Of course there was a time to greet people, a lovely custom.  Those around me were new and did not recognize me at all.  Lovely.  Then from behind me, a tap on my shoulder.  Who had spied me? 

A stranger to my eyes.  Actually, two very pretty young women who clearly knew who I was.  "I am so sorry I don't remember you," said I sadly.  "Oh, we only came on Christmas Eve and Easter," they said.  Their mother appeared to explain that they were so busy then (clearly when the girls were probably not teenagers) that getting there on Sundays was hard.  But all three of them said how much they enjoyed my words back then. 

Eight years later they still remembered.  Heavens!  I was so touched.  My eyes got a little watery, and I said "thank you so much. That means a lot to me." But that's not the end of the story.  One of the young women told me, "I found your blog."  Instantly I felt bad about not writing more often. 

No doubt it is wonderful to have thousands who hang on your words, but that is not my destiny. My fantasy of being a famous author or a prominent preacher will remain a fantasy, but it touched me more than I expected to think there are a few - well OK one - who is a fan. 

"You're adorable," I said, and meant it.  To know you matter more than you realize is such a gift.  I hope this story is a proper 'thank you note' for gladdening the heart of a man in the third act of life.  If you see this, send me an address and I will make it a proper note.

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