This week, 25 years ago – 1989, was a pretty spectacular week. It was a week of beautiful weather, a January thaw. Mim and I were living in Chicago, on the second floor of a two-flat. Mim was teaching nursing at North Park College, and I was self-employed as a business systems consultant. But neither of us worked too hard that week.
I remember putting on just a light spring jacket when we drove to a flower shop to pick up a dozen yellow roses, yellow freesia, white mini-carnations, baby’s breath, and greens. Then we drove to a liquor store to pick out special champagne. The wine expert in the store convinced us to get Moet & Chandon for $26 a bottle, the most we had ever spent on a bottle of anything. But this was for a very special occasion. Six friends were coming over to our home for dinner.
When we got home from our errands, Mim arranged the flowers into several bouquets, and I placed them throughout the house. I set up the CD player with Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite” for background music, and made sure the house was ready for company. Mim worked in the kitchen, preparing a curried chicken-broccoli casserole. By the time our guests arrived, the house looked and smelled wonderful.
But before our guests could eat, we had a special event that we all participated in – our Blessing Ceremony. Two of our guests, Steve and Craig, were pastors from our Lutheran church. Another guest was Craig’s partner, Frank, an accomplished organist who served as our pianist. Our best friend, Mark, was the lector and photographer. Our attorney, Sandra, officiated the signing of the wills and other legal documents to make our commitment ceremony resemble a legal marriage to the greatest extent possible in 1989. Our sixth friend was Lenie, our “antique lady friend,” a local shopkeeper who had become a close friend and who served as a legal witness for us.
It was a perfect evening. The Blessing Ceremony was a full liturgy with communion, a service that we had customized from a variety of sources. Our opening hymn was “Now Thank We All Our God.” Our closing hymn was “O God, Eternal Source of Love beyond Our Knowing.” The prayers that our friends prayed for us that night are still being answered.
Faithful Lord, source of love, pour down your grace upon Mim and Marian, that they may fulfill the vows they have made this day and reflect your steadfast love in their life-long faithfulness to each other. As members with them of the body of Christ, use us to support their life together; and from your great store of strength give them power and patience, affection and understanding, courage, and love toward you, toward each other, and toward the world, that they may continue together in mutual growth according to your will in Jesus Christ our Lord.
After the formal ceremony, Mim took the casserole out of the oven. Frank and Craig thought we shouldn’t be the ones to serve our guests dinner on our special day, so they became our waiters. The eight of us sat around the dining room table for a couple hours, enjoying the dinner, the friendship, and the excitement of the evening. And the expensive champagne, too.
But the enjoyment isn’t over yet. Every year we remember this special evening. This Friday night Mim and I plan to go out to celebrate our Blessing Ceremony for the 25th time.
As you may recall, my “perfect word” to focus on for 2014 is JOY. One of the special joys that Mim and I have is the opportunity to enjoy three anniversaries every year. On January 24, we’ll celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Blessing Ceremony. On February 1, we’ll celebrate the 41st anniversary of living together. And on September 15, we’ll celebrate the first anniversary of our legal wedding.
I guess having several anniversaries is one of the special joys reserved for gay couples.