He walked up to me and said, “isn’t it great to be all dressed up and here for a party instead of something sad?” I grinned and returned the greeting with an emphatic “yes!” and a hug. Over the years the church building on Cowan has come to be an important part of the nomadic routine of The Dale. For many, it is the place we gather to grieve. On this particular day though we were showing up for a wedding!
I have known Tasha and Eddie for many years, the entire time as a couple. I can picture them in those early days riding their bikes side by side through the neighbourhood, greeting people with the wave of hands. Tasha has often been the first person to tell me when another community member is suddenly in hospital or has died. Because of her, I have been able to quickly get to someone’s bedside in the ICU. Tasha and Eddie are also known for their hospitality and great BBQ’s. They are generous friends. When Tasha reached out in the summer to ask if I would officiate their wedding, I was thrilled and honoured.
As I arrived at the church to get it open, the sun came out on what had started as a cool, rainy day. People began to arrive a full hour early, eager to not miss a thing. Once the ceremony began, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of Tasha walking down the aisle. We listened to an Ojibwe Prayer Song and then a poem read by Eddie’s Best Man. I spoke briefly. As a community we resoundingly agreed to support Tasha and Eddie, and then I led them through their vows, exchange of rings, and the signing of the register. After announcing the two as married, Eddie and Tasha walked down the aisle to cheers from us and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder. I was so happy I started to dance. Joanna and I couldn’t shake our smiles.
In life generally, and our community specifically, there is challenge and a lot of loss. That isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of joy too- there is. Rare though is to have an event like a wedding. Henri Nouwen once said that, “the more we celebrate, the more we realize that we are in communion. To celebrate is to create community…Joy is hidden in our suffering and revealed in our communal life.” I will not soon forget how it felt to look out at the faces of people I love made radiant in the celebration.
Congratulations to you Eddie and Tasha. You are loved. The community is with you.