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Rites of Passage

The “gang” with the bride in front

This weekend I had the honor and privilege to officiate a wedding.  The best part was that the bride was one of the girls my daughter grew up with.  It is a joy to see them “all grown up” and functioning in the world as strong, competent women.

We were lucky to live in a neighborhood with natural boundaries.  Many of the residents grew up here and came back to live in their parent’s homes.  There were a lot of kids my daughter’s age, and she knew them all.  Because of the natural boundaries my daughters childhood was a lot more like mine than many of her peers.  The kids ran freely through the neighborhood all summer long.  They were back and forth between houses, cutting through yards and “exploring” in the overgrown “woods”.

The officiant and maid of honor 🙂

The girls formed close ties, and maintained them into their adulthood.  The one whose family moved away came back for the wedding.  The one who is a little less socially inclined drove in to town.  The one who got married first (at the Justice of the Peace) found a sitter for the baby so she could party with the gang.  This was an EVENT, not to be missed.

The bride was determined to have a great party.  As the maid of honor, my daughter was very involved, so I’ve been hearing stories since the date was chosen.  The bride invited people to come in costume.  She had her dress specially made to her specifications and assigned each bridesmaid a color/character.  She kept the guest list under 100, just the right people.  She was also pretty serious about the marriage thing.

The other “single Mom” of that pack of girls

I take the responsibilities of being a minister seriously.  Vows are a big deal for me and the words spoken in sacred space carry weight.  I had several conversations with the couple, not just about what they wanted in a wedding, but about their expectations of a marriage.  I made sure they knew what they were going to promise before they had to stand up and make those promises.

I haven’t performed a lot of weddings, but I’ve done more than a few.  The thing is when I get asked it’s usually because the couple’s beliefs don’t quite fit into a standard religious framework.  They want a ceremony, a ritual, a rite of passage.  They don’t want a church, or a synagogue or a stranger.  I’ve had a bride and groom hand me a ritual they wrote and ask me to do it.  I’ve had a Wiccan wedding in my tradition’s circle.  I wrote two for myself.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked to do something that is open enough for the couple but that won’t offend the more traditional family.

The groom and his Mom

It was a rite of passage for them, but it was also a rite of passage for me.  These are the girls I watched grow up now building lives of their own.  The officiant at a wedding blesses the union and then sends the couple on their way.  That’s what the Moms (and in the bride’s case her Dad) are doing as well.

Full Heart

Thrilled to be there in support of my sister

Thrilled to be there in support of my sister

After last week’s migraine it was crazy trying to get everything packed and ready for this weekend’s adventure.  But it was well worth it.  Orion said, repeatedly, “My heart is full.”  Mine too.

This weekend we were privileged to attend my sister’s wedding.  Andrea and Butch have been together for many years now.  We’ve certainly embraced Butch as a member of the family and Andrea has also been welcomed into his.  There was a lot of resistance to actually getting married, especially on my sister’s part.

Their minister and good friend is happy to take some credit for getting these two together.

Their minister and good friend is happy to take some credit for getting these two together.

Andrea is a proud, capable, and independent woman.  She has been a music teacher since she graduated from college (lifetimes ago).  She has trained as an EMT and run the kitchen at a Boy Scout summer camp.  She is the music director at her church and plays in the orchestra for many local productions.

Butch is also proud and capable.  He built his home himself and continues to putter.  He’s worked in design and development as an engineer.  He’s traveled the world, served in the military and raised a family that includes an adult child with special needs.  (His best man at the wedding.)

Mom and Dad are overjoyed to see their daughter so happy

Mom and Dad are overjoyed to see their daughter so happy

This is not a marriage about finding a prince charming or a nursemaid.  This is not a marriage about needing someone to take care of things.  This is not a marriage about need at all.  This is a marriage about sharing.  Sharing a life together.  Sharing family.  Sharing joys and burdens.  Sharing service, in the church, community, and in the world.  Sharing interests and opportunities to learn new things.

There is nothing more delightful than to attend a wedding where EVERYONE is thrilled to be there. The children and grandchildren on both sides fully support this union.  My parents are beaming with joy.  As Orion so aptly states, our hearts are full.

Of course there was cake

Of course there was cake

Congratulations Andrea and Butch.  May you have many, many years of happiness and love to share with each other!

and more cake

and more cake


crab apple

I really can’t get over the weather this spring.  We had some snow yesterday, flurries in the cities and more up north.  The general reaction was surprise.  “This isn’t normal.”  Actually it is.  Not only is it normal for April, but it’s not unheard of even in May when the trees typically are in blossom and the bulbs are blooming.

I’ve lived in the area all my life and I was raised to be aware of the weather.  We did a lot of camping, even locally, and that of course helped.  I grew up fascinated by thunderstorms and tornadoes.  I watched from my basement window as the tornadoes that destroyed one of our neighboring suburbs went past.  I was out on the lake with my father and grandfather when a storm came in and we sat out the accompanying tornado under the boat pulled up on someone’s lakeshore back yard.  I’ve ridden through tornado weather in a tent, occasionally the only one left standing in the campground the next morning.

lilacs begining to bloom

In the fall of 1985 I announced that I was getting married on May 10, 1986 and that there would be apple blossoms and fresh lilacs for my bouquet. I was told I was crazy.  First off that the lilacs followed the apple blossoms, they did not bloom at the same time.  Secondly that here in Minnesota neither the apple nor the lilac bloomed that early in the year.  I was adamant.

Although it was early I knew down to my bones that it was possible.  I’d been watching for years with an awareness that I wanted those flowers when and if I ever got married.  Yes the lilacs usually follow the apples, but sometimes for a couple of days they can be in bloom together.  Yes the spring is often later than that second week of May, but early springs had happened almost that time of year.

wedding photo by Ron Simms

I got married on May 10, 1986 under a blossoming apple tree with lilacs in my bouquet.   I had to bring the lilacs in the night before and put them in warm water to force the blossom from the bud, but I was a happy bride.   This is why I keep insisting that we are a full month ahead on the season.  We really are.  The fruit trees are blossoming and the lilacs are starting to bloom.  In mid April.  Even before the taxes were due.

In my lifetime, my fathers lifetime and my grandfathers lifetime this weather pattern was unheard of until this year.  Everyone loves it.  I love it, it’s beautiful.  It’s also SO wrong.  There is no predicting if it will hold or if we will loose all the fruits from these early blossoms.  There is no predicting if we will have and earlier or longer or hotter summer.  There is no predicting what may happen in August.

The weather forecasters and climatologists are using models based on data that is no longer applicable.  They are assuming that the weather patterns will hold true as they move to more northern latitudes.  Unfortunately there is no data that indicates that is an accurate theory.  The tornado systems that have plagued the midwest already this year (much too early in the season) are not typical of Texas springs.

Lilacs along the Lilac Drive

Most of us have become very urbanized.  We are dependent on the shipping of our produce from “wherever it might be growing.”  We have lost our sense of how the climate affects the crops, affects the prices, affects anything beyond our daily comfort.  That’s why we are loving this weather, this early spring.

I can’t say I’ve had much conversation with the local farmers.  Our farmers markets typically don’t even open until after Memorial Day and there’s rarely much produce until mid June.  I suspect they are as torn as I am.  Enjoying the early and dry spring as it allows for early planting.  Worried about the lack of rain rather than the over abundance springs often bring.  Not at all sure what they are risking by planting early, or what the potential for gain may be if we have an extended season.

In all my life I can not remember ever taking the weather truly one day at a time.  I’ve always seen the patterns.  I’ve always had a climate norm that I could relate to.   I’ve always laughed at the weather forecasters who compare “today’s temperatures” with the mean average, knowing that our “typical” temperatures in the spring are plus or minus 15 degrees.


I guess I’m just going to have to get used to the weather as it comes.  We all will.  Let’s hope the surprises Mother Nature has in store for us are things we can survive.

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