Monday, February 2, 2009

The Hardest Decision To Date

Yesterday I posted about our decision to have a Rabbi officiate our wedding.

Soon after we made our decision last Fall, Poppy Peep called to express his concern: our Family's "faith" wasn't being represented in our ceremony. He asked if we would consider a co-officiant.

I took his request very seriously, as this was, and has been, Poppy Peep's only request regarding anything wedding. And without my parent's support financially (and emotionally) we would not be having this beautiful wedding.

At first I thought "of course, we'll get someone to co-officiate." But after our conversation, I immediately though, "what did he mean by 'our Family's faith?"

Yes, we grew up going to Church, but what sect of Christianity that church represents I am nowhere near sure.

I felt lost. For the first time in my life, my father expressed to me how important his "faith" is to him. But at 29 years old, I can't even tell you what "faith" he was talking about!

Mr. Peep and I discussed Poppy Peep's request at length. I came to the realization that a co-officiant from some Christian Church would only represent my Dad's "faith," not mine or Mr. Peep's.

Seeking advice I called my Brother, who converted to Catholicism for his wedding almost 7 years ago. He suggested talking to Poppy Peep to pin down exactly what his concerns were- find out which part of the ceremony my dad believed was most problematic. My Brother said that in the end it is OUR decision, not my Dads.

We then called the Rabbi, who patiently listened to our situation, spoke to both of us individually, and asked us, again, if our original decision was still what we wanted to do. Answering yes, the Rabbi asked to speak to my Dad, wanting to decode and understand his concerns, and figure out if they could find a middle ground (Remember our Rabbi won't co-officiate a ceremony).

For the first time in my life, I called my Dad to specifically discuss religion.

Unlike many of Poppy Peep's and my typical political disputes, I was open to hear what he had to say. Yet Poppy Peep couldn't tell me what he wanted out of a co-officiant. To this day, I believe what he wants is a figure head representing "our family's faith." I explained to him that I didn't know what that meant, that I didn't identify with a faith like he did; I think this crushed him just a little.

I asked him to call the Rabbi, believing the Rabbi could best explain how we were incorporating both faiths into our ceremony. Poppy Peep said OK and we hung up.

Over a month went by. My Dad didn't call the Rabbi.

During the holidays, Mr. Peep and I had an opportunity to discuss the situation with him in person. Again, we got nowhere. I repeatedly asked him to call the Rabbi; he asked to postpone the conversation until he was over laryngitis. Fair enough.

Finally, over the long New Year's weekend, Mama and Poppy Peep talked to the Rabbi. I don't know what was said, yet with the lack of immediate response we thought all was well, the Rabbi swayed his fears and concerns. It was not until a couple of weeks later that I received a call from my Dad. He said we should just go with the Rabbi -- he said that if Mr. Peep's family was put in the same situation, they'd be upset too. It felt like a jagged knife to the heart. Again, I asked if there was anything we could do during the ceremony to incorporate his faith; he replied there was nothing to be done.

I asked Mr. Peep if he'd consider a non-denominational officiant, thinking maybe we could disappoint both families, equally. Yet the reality was still apparent: Mr. Peep would be disappointed.

I've labored over this decision. I've agonized writing this post. And I still don't have peace over upsetting my Dad.

However, I do have peace about our decision. It was/still is the hardest decision regarding our wedding.

This wedding is about US. Coming together. And I couldn't imagine one of us disappointed on our wedding day. So we have decided to have the Rabbi marry us; he has been there for us as a couple, throughout this long drawn out process. He has let us figure out exactly what we need, and helped us identify what my Dad is looking for.

This Sunday we are meeting with the Rabbi, for the first time since we made our decision. He has promised to work with us, insuring that we both feel represented in OUR ceremony. And he's promised to call my Dad again to keep the dialog open and continuing.

I can only hope, and pray, that on the day of the wedding, my Dad is pleasantly surprised by the inclusiveness of our ceremony. We've decided to ask my Dad to say a blessing before the meal, and for my brother to perform a reading during the ceremony. I promise to keep you informed about our path to an inclusive interfaith ceremony.

Have you run into an issue that just can't be tied up in a cute package with a neat little bow?

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