Monday, October 19, 2015

AT THE WILD FIG: A Long, Strange, Wonderful, Love-Filled, Sadness & Joy-filled, Trip.

Gurney Norman, Divine Rights' Trip
A regular! at Wild Fig Books & Cafe

I was home for only six days. in less than 48 hours, I had to go to court with a friend who is fighting for custody of the little girl she has fostered (more on that later,) run over to Louisville for a wedding rehearsal, take our ten year old Seth up to Lexington to see his Grandma (my sister,) and then head back to Louisville for the 5PM wedding. Squeezed in there was a special favor.

A few months ago, I got a note from some former church members whose service of union I'd performed four years ago, when I was the UU minister in Lexington. A few things I recall from the day are the joy with which they elaborately decorated the church, and the sadness they expressed that Martin's parents would not be attending due to religious convictions.

They stopped attending services not long after that, because Martin is a nurse, and Brandon's two kids from his former marriage often spent weekends with them, and the long drive from Pikeville became too difficult. But until then, they were surely the folks who came the farthest to our UU church. Pikeville is a true Appalachian community, a good 2-3 hours drive, deep in coal country and on the Kentucky border. But now, Same sex marriage is finally legal in Kentucky, and they were hoping that maybe on their anniversary, I might be able to sign their genuine wedding license.

Brandon, Martin & the boys

I told them I would be delighted, and that in fact it was on a weekend I would be in Kentucky... BUT I'd already committed to a wedding in Louisville, so the best I could do was meet in Lexington. They said they'd meet me anywhere. They'd even drive to Louisville! But we didn't get too detailed about where we'd meet. If it were a nice day, I thought, we'd do the ceremony outdoors, then maybe go to lunch. It was a bit cool, upper 50s, but sunny, so I told them we'd meet at the Arboretum. Plans (mostly) made, we set off. Seth and I to his grandma's and then to the meeting, Martin and Brandon on the long drive to Lexington.

Our texts must have crossed! We simultaneously realized that we needed two witnesses! To be fair, I've done nearly 300 weddings and have no idea why I didn't think of this. We kidded about it being a good thing they didn't live in Rowan County and they told me the clerk in Pike County had been really nice to them. Quickly, they called the few people they knew in Lexington.. but all were busy. Understand that since I am still "barred" from my former congregation until the new minister has been there for a year, I was limited in the number of people I could call. I tried both of my sons. One working, the other at a seminar. Almost went out to the construction site where the one was working. What else are kids for? They owe you. Then I remembered the Wild Fig. I was headed there anyway!

The Wild Fig Books & Cafe

The re-incarnation of a great new & used bookstore, the Wild Fig had recently opened, and I'd saved up for some titles that I wanted to buy anyway, to support a small & locally owned bookstore, as well as an African American business. I'm praying that it will take off because it's in a part of town that is really starting to hop and have a funky arts scene, but that still needs some convincing for the stuffy folks to head over there. The house it's in is cozy and the interior is sunny and inviting. 

As soon as I got there, I knew it would be perfect for the little ceremony! Owners/authors/artists Ronald Davis & Crystal Wilkinson were, I knew, GLBT-friendly, and would probably agree to be witnesses if they were there. But, when I arrived, Crystal's twin daughters, Elainia & Delainia were on duty... and no one else there. I introduced myself, took a deep breath, and... soooo,"I have a question!"

They were great. Not only did they agree to be witnesses, they were photographers, videographers, wedding planners, and they even, when I told them how much Brandon & Martin LOVED Dolly Parton, pulled some Dolly music up on their Spotify for the men to walk in to. 

As we gathered round to take a few group photos, trying to set the automatic shutter, a regular customer came in, a hip looking guy with his baby in a front pack and another tyke hanging onto his leg. I think his name was Griff. He walked over, the little blond boy dragging across the polished floor like a ball and chain, and snapped a few photos. He offered to buy pumpkin muffins for wedding cake.

Then he said, "I know you guys are going to make it, because your shoe laces match."

We'd already observed that everything Martin, Brandon & I were wearing was either blue or orange that day. By then, nothing would have surprised us. Call it God, call it coincidence, call it synchronicity. So many horrible, ugly, mean, and spiteful things are happening all over.

But every once in a while, you just gotta testify, something truly beautiful happens. Love walks right in the door and stays awhile. And we get the strength to rise another day.