This weekend I went to a wedding that broke my heart apart and made it sing.

I don’t think I ever,

  • Laughed, cried and cheered so much at a wedding.
  • Been so engulfed in a supportive community.
  • Witnessed a pre-wedding, theatre-worthy performance with songs, story, and poetry celebrating two individual journeys and the magic of their meeting.
  • Felt a collective joy that risked blowing out the walls of the ceremony hall.
  • Cried that marriage could have ever been denied a couple who loved so deeply.

Ten years ago, this wedding wouldn’t have been possible. If anyone has any lingering doubts about the validity of gay marriage, I dare them to witness the story of these two men. Through their honesty, their commitment, and their bravery in not giving up on love in the face of society’s homophobia, they honored and sanctified the act of marriage.

Throughout their ceremony, I kept squeezing my husband’s hand. Their vows renewed mine.

How ironic, I thought, that we can learn the beauty of marriage from those who once would have been denied the right to it.

Yet that’s what the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and those who did not grow up entitled to what we take for granted, can do for us. They open our eyes to beauty and privilege we don’t see any more. Entitlement numbs us to life (I know; I grew up in a community where entitlement was assumed.)

With privilege, we¬†despair of everything that doesn’t work and forget what does.

In witnessing:

  • Two wonderful men take their vows, I see the power of marriage.
  • An immigrant take an oath, I understand the power of citizenship.
  • A refugee join our community after risking life to escape a troubled land, I’m struck by the power of home.
  • An older African-American woman voting for the first time, I remember that voting matters.
  • A Down-syndrome man standing at the altar at church, I sense our equality as beings.
  • An unemployed twenty-four-year old land a first job, I get the power of work.
  • A woman step forward and say “Me too,” I’m moved by the power of voice.
  • A woman dying in a hospice bed, I feel the sacredness of life.

All of these people offer gifts that shake my world out of its complacency. I say “Black lives matter,” and become more present to why every life matters. I welcome immigrants, not just for their sake, but because they have much to teach us about what matters in this country today.

We need to listen to those at the margins. They can be our potent teachers.

Just as my two beloved friends can remind me of why, thirty years ago, I took vows of marriage to the man I love so much today.

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