Thursday, 15 August 2013

The Blessed Path: a wedding / partnership ceremony

Checking my emails after a two week holiday, I was especially delighted to receive a royalties statement from Wild Goose Publications. It's not that I'd suddenly become a best-seller, far from it, but that a particular downloadable pdf publication I'd written a while back, had been chosen by 28 people.
Those 28 people mean a lot to me. (In the micro-publishing world of small (but special) publishing companies, sales are counted carefully, book by book and article by article, and we writers get a cheque on the happy occasions that we make more than £50 in a season - about £1 per book, and for 28 downloads of a wedding liturgy, £16! )

The work in question is 'The Blessed Path, a wedding / partnership ceremony'.

I was pleased to be asked to write this by Wild Goose Publications. Working on it, I felt as though I was preparing a gift - a wedding gift - for couples planning their declaration of commitment and love to one another, on their most joyous day.

I wanted very much, to honour the dignity and depth of this commitment, and I wanted to write it in a way that would be inclusive, appropriate for all couples seeking blessing within the Christian tradition, whether straight, lesbian or gay or any other permutation of sexual preference and gender. I wanted to honour the exploration of sincere love in all its subtleties, and the increasing freedom our society is beginning to offer, to let love flourish.

Tolstoy wrote a short story called 'Where Love is, There God is Also,' Mother Theresa wrote a book of a similar name: 'Where there is Love, there is God'. Taize have a lovely sung Latin form of the saying: 'Ubi Caritas'. It's not a new idea though, the words are from an old Gregorian chant traditionally sung during the Maundy Thursday foot washing, beginning, 'Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.' Where there is charity and love, God is there. It's something I really believe: when people live in love with one another, they live in the Divine Presence.

An ancient path: the Ridgeway near Wayland's Smithy
The ceremony is based on a theme of journeying and paths. It recognises that we each walk our own path, but in partnership we commit to walking with somebody, which is a challenge as well as a delight. The paths that bring us to our life partners can sometimes be difficult and as we join hands with our beloved we recognise that the way ahead is a journey into the unknown, and that all we can do is trust in one another and in the goodness of God.

Song of Songs in Hebrew, photographer unknown

To express this sense of journey and committment I have woven texts from the Song of Songs and from the psalms together with prayers adapted from the Celtic collection the Carmina Gadelica, and stories of great love and loyalty  from the Bible - between Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, Rebecca and Isaac.

If I had been asked to write the ceremony for just one couple preparing to celebrate and solomnise their  relationship in the presence of God and their community, I would have been immensely happy to do so and touched to be part of the sacred moment. As it is, that 28 people have considered using 'The Blessed Path' (and I hope some of these are using it, or part of it), fills me with gladness. Although I am waiting for my 6th book to work its way to publication as I write, I think this little e-publication expresses everything for me about the sense of satisfaction of being able to offer something that can touch another's life, and give a little companionship along the way. It really does make it all worthwhile, so thank you if you happen to be one of the 28, and may your path be blessed!

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