Singing Owl has come up with a Valentine’s Friday Five. Since she has a 40th wedding anniversary coming up she has suggested that we share five people we love.
I am in a quandary. I love people with all my fiber. But I chose fairly early on to live a celibate life. This means that I have chosen with one exception to love a multitude of people—to offer to others the love that God heaps on me without regard to family of origin, particularity or personal desires.
The one exception is, of course, J. She has been my companion and roommate for 33 years. We met at the inception of a women’s ministerial group in the mid-70’s. We couldn’t afford to live alone in those days, and can’t afford to live alone today in retirement. Our friendship has grown to a fondness that I don’t think that any marriage could support. J is straight and I am lesbian and our relationship centers not in fulfilling our own needs but in providing others with the kind of love that they need to find Christ. It isn’t always blissful. We get under each other’s skin at times, but somehow we have made it work. We tell each other that we love them every day because it reminds us that we do. But our love is not bound by vows or ritual. It is bound by the mutual respect that comes with 30+ years of trying to live a Christian life.
I do have personal family and I do love them. I have a brother who is 12 years older than I. He had 2 daughters and a son that I love as dearly as if they had been my own although we don’t share some of the things that I love dearly such as the Church. But I have come to enjoy their stories of sailing and horse rearing and oil production and government service that they share at family dinners. I have watched their children grow and one of the “great’s” will be married this year. I am the keeper of the family genealogy so I have assumed some of the matriarchal duties now that my mother is gone.
But how do I name all the loves I have had in my life—5 is not nearly enough! Can I name only a few and leave out others? Not a chance! Do I leave out the woman who was the crucifer at my ordination in favor of another young woman whose mother was a colleague? Do I claim the couple who were my first confirmands in my first parish who have shared their home and their lives with me at various times in my life over the secretary in my last charge who shared my difficulties as I chose to retire? I am unwilling to make those choices. There is the couple who invited us for dinner as we moved into our home on the hottest June day in upstate NY and the couple of musicians whose daily emails make my life more complete. There is my dearest colleague and girly-girl who helps me understand what it means to be a lesbian in today’s world. Then there is a gay guy whose love for the Bible is so deep and so broad that his love takes my breath away. And there was the woman who was my therapist for years who helped me address the evils in my life and triumph over them.
I have many Valentines. I am not sure that I will send valentines to them all. But they sit in my heart and my prayers. And perhaps that is the better part…