coexist peace signYesterday I spent an hour in a Catholic church for a wedding of people I didn’t know. The groom is the son of Joyce’s high-school friend, so… Sometimes you do what you have to do. Then I saw the welling eyes of the young man watching his bride to be walking toward him, and I was all in. Keep it together, man.

Probably like “the most interesting man in the world,” I don’t go to church often, but when I do, I pay attention. Behind and above the altar was a circular stained-glass window of the “holy trinity,” the father, the son, and the holy spirit – portrayed in a peace sign. So that was cool. The church was filled with whitish people – Italians, French, Irish, Hispanic… From right to left, I’m sure they filled the political spectrum, too. The musicians were an Asian couple and a white woman playing a cello beautifully. The priest was black. At the reception a gay couple sat at an adjacent table. The brides “man of honor” was a gay (and very funny) man.

Back in church, I sat there with my five senses while the attendees knelt and recited old familiar prayers. It did feel strange to be one of very few not to walk the communion ritual, but I had no fear that my religious non-conformity would result in my beheading. As Reverend Mpagi spoke eloquently, I was not concerned someone would rise and shoot him for the color of his skin. The gay men in the room had nothing to fear and felt free to be who they are… Coexistence. Not too complicated.

One of the ceremony readings was about the god of that house, and his plea to “love each other.” Father Mpagi then spoke of “a love as strong as death.” That shook the cob webs of my thought. The ceremony and reception were well done. Our table-mates were cool people. The haddock was tasty. The bride sang like Julie Andrews. Joyce’s friend held court for cigars on the porch. Someone mentioned the Charleston shooting in our little group. I spoke of hearing that the daughter of slain 70-year-old Ethel Lance said to the killer, “I forgive you.”

Suddenly “a love as strong as death” made a little more sense.