A Wedding

Went to Peak’s Island this weekend. It’s an Island off the coast of Portland Maine, so you need to take a ferry. It’s about 5 hours from White Plains. It’s a vacation spot, with plenty of places for people to rent during the summer, and its easy to get fresh lobster for cheap.

The bride is the first person from any youth group to get hitched. She’s on the younger side – most of her friends are still single. I wasn’t making a play on them, in spite of the intriguing redhead who did improv comedy. Her husbands friends were all young and handsome. One was medicating himself through a divorce, flirting his way through the evening. He would ask me for permission to swear.

Although I love the family, I was a bit reticent to make the journey. I was exhausted. Taking a trip alone just heightens the awareness of solitude, and gives me considerable time to consider the bachelor life. But I had other incentives to visit: there was a Luce Scholars seminar in Cambridge, and a friend in West Roxbury I could visit. And upon my return I’d surprise another friend by attending his mass.

I celebrated the wedding with a colleague who is a “youth missioner.” I can’t imagine such a job. And it’s not because I hate kids. I love them. But I wasn’t a very good teen-ager. I didn’t have the cool, although I could negotiate the different cliques with some ease. Wes knows kids. He shepherds and directs. And he is very exuberant. “Wow!” he chants. “You are so cool. God absolutely loves you because you rock.” When he talks to kids he becomes animated and exuberant.

After the rehearsal, KP and DC, the bride and groom, offered communion to the family and friends. We used a very basic form of prayer over the bread and wine. It was a simple wine glass, a cabernet, and some pita bread.

I offered the remaining wine to the redhead, who’d already consumed. “Am I allowed to?” she asked. “Why?” I said it should get finished. She looked at me and smiled, shrugging her shoulder, looking at me as if I had told her something in Glaswegian. She kind of understood, but wasn’t sure if I was offering her a trinket, a prize, or my phone number.

So then I did what a priest normally does. I finished it myself. “Well, it just needs to be finished,” I said, looking away, and lifting the glass to my lips. It was a bit dry.


Richmond, April 2009

I was watching the news.  The oceans are dying.

The depths have been plundered or poisoned.

As I wondered about the next time I will have wild salmon

The fate of the bowhead whales, the crabs and the corals,

I remember how my chest lightened when my eyes fell into yours,

The color of an ocean at high noon, its depths undiscovered, alive

Teeming with creaturliness, falling upon the turquoise tears

That the silver necklace held around your neck.

In the shop that sells things that were dead to some,

But now alive to others, memories recreated, recalibrated, restored.

For a moment I was brought out of a foggy hue

Brought from another night of friendly drinking,

Made alive by the life within the sea that was your eyes.

I rested upon your countenance.  Although I am like other men

And have the habit of lingering too long

upon the contours of a woman’s body,

I could only attend to the blue around your face and neck.

I couldn’t speak the words that would have made me more visible to you.

You were polite and helpful, but I felt like the young boy

Who can’t yet swim, as you listed the shawl and cuffs I bought.

When I left the place, I considered what it must be like to be an explorer

In the high seas, discovering the treasures and life within you.

So now there is this note, cast upon the grand oceans,

Trusting it will find its destination.