Have you ever thought of your house as a blessing? I mean, more than just in the hurried and harried sense, like a guilty murmuring when you hear that another has lost his or her abode. I’m not sure that I have…until February 7th, 2009.
On this day, the two people who have become the dearest friends to my wife and I had a party. No, it was more than a party – even though there were plenty of the usual markers: brownies, guacamole, and (oh yes!) red wine. It was a house blessing, a service our pastor constructed based upon a New Zealand ritual by the same name.
About an hour into the eating and drinking, chatting and laughing, the “party” was called to order…more like, called to worship. Indeed, we had a liturgy, compiled meticulously by our pastor and passed out zealously by her 5 year old son to each guest. There were antiphonal responses between the pastor and all those gathered. Plus, there was a time for just the two living in the blessed house to speak, promising to make this more than a space, more than even a sacred space – they were pledging to find a home in each other. I’m not sure that either one has ever been more beautiful then when they took turns lighting the three candles, vowing to consecrate their relationship in this space. One look at the light reflected in their faces, as they stared so intensely at each other, and my heart welled with love for them. They made me promise myself to be a better housemate, a better life partner, to my wife.
Of course, we all have a better moments and I am no different. Earlier that day, I had joked that the three candles stood in hopes for triple orgasms! I was joking, crassly albeit it innocently, but I see now that such frivolity evidenced my lack of preparation for this monumental occasion. I should know better. I’ve been to New Orleans and talked to people, who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, yet still want their house back in the same location, damn it all, from the low-lying flood plains to the insufficient levees. It’s not the case that these people are shallow or superficial; in fact, just the opposite. They live into the phrase “home is where the heart is” by putting their hearts in their home.
I was reminded of this, once again, by our two female friends at their house blessing. Yes, two females. Since they don’t have the federally authorized sets of genitalia to marry, they chose the house blessing as the option available to them. But, in looking around the room on February 7th, all people (whether straight, gay, or lesbian) understood that their ceremony of commitment had no second rate status because their love for one another was on par with any love.
And, because of their love, I believe in house blessings.