Weekly Message from T. J.

Over the Mask

The dogs were huge. Huge. And the home was lovely. It was hard to miss the Tesla sport utility vehicle parked next to the Ferrari roadster in the car port as I approached the door. But when the door opened, two dogs that could have been bears met me. Others met me, too: the two people who planned to be wedded, and I confess it here, the three people who planned to witness the wedding, and one child sitting in the dining room. Yes, I entered a home with more than five people gathered on my way to the outdoor space where I’d perform the wedding.

My way was blocked at certain points by an enormous head pinned against my hip wanting to be scratched. That is how tall the dogs were. Standing, their heads could pin me in place at the hip joint. But more than dog head scratches stood in my way: a state in lockdown, promises I’d made to take no unnecessary risks, and my own desire to stay safe, and happy, and well. But this was a special case, you see. One of the young folks who hoped to be married had a past.

I received a call on my cell phone last week from a young man who said, “I was born a UU. I wear my chalice everyday. I am not involved in the church actively. But I really need your help.” Calls like this are not infrequent for ministers and this young man continued. “My mom was a UU religious educator for thirty two years…”. And that’s where I stopped him. I said, “Please tell me what I can do for the child of a UU religious educator and I will do it.”

The house was airy and spacious. Everyone wore masks. Nobody except those in the same household touched. And I stood more than a six foot distance away from the masked couple. And from the East Coast, the distance of half an ocean and a continent, the young man’s mother, the religious educator who started it all, was watching on her phone by FaceTime. We said the magic words, and I said that the couple could at long last unmask briefly and embrace for the first time as a married couple. We all rejoiced.

I admit an element of selfishness in agreeing to do this wedding. Taking part in a joy I’ve missed was one part of the decision, a tiny part. More than that was the debt we all owe to the educators who have collapsed so many barriers in our shared life together and in the lives of so many we love. The chance to help one of these heroes overcome some barriers—distancing, dog heads, and delinquent children—was an honor I would not miss for the world.

As the couple ended the embrace, the young man put his mask back on to thank me. I saw the prominent chalice laid against his chest on a sturdy rope, and I just said, “Thank your mother. I really did this for her.” And I could see his eyes smile even brighter over his mask, and then he thanked me all the more.

Many blessings of safety and peace.

Rev. T. J.

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