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It has taken me many years to create my chosen family. I have the absolute blessing and utter privilege to be surrounded by shining souls, souls that are inherently beautiful, deeply good, innately splendid. I love my soul family, my brothers and sisters, with my entire heart. I love them without condition, and they love me, too. I believe in them with my whole being, and they believe in me. They remind me what I’m capable of creating when I’ve lost my way, and I do my absolute best to show them how precious they are.

It has taken me a lifetime to build this precious family. I would not trade one second of the heartbreak and heartache I have journeyed through in order to find them, because I’m here, now, and I am blessed to live in a house of love.

I know what it’s worth. I know its value. I know the trials and tribulations that you must go through in life to find it. It’s irreplaceable and unable to be duplicated…

So, then, imagine my surprise. Imagine my surprise when I wandered into the halls of a new place, a precious, old sanctuary. I was wary, but hopeful. I knew I’d have to prove myself–doesn’t everyone? I knew it’d take years to shape the love I wanted from a place of faith, but I was ready and willing to work, I was ready and willing to love without love until it blossomed. I was ready and willing to work for the love.

I came into that place, and I was greeted with embraces. Those aspects of myself that I have had to fight for, over and over and over again in this life, to be treated with dignity and respect and love were things that the sanctuary’s people embraced. They loved me not “in spite of,” but because of. They didn’t blink when I told them I was getting married to a woman, that I loved her with my whole heart, that I loved the Goddess, that I was a Witch. They hugged me close, and they told me “welcome,” and “you’re safe here,” and “we’re so glad you’re here.”

They told me “you are needed,” “you are precious,” “you are part of us, and we are part of you.”

Imagine my surprise when I was greeted with enthusiasm when I brought up hesitant ideas my very first day. Imagine my surprise when what I said was listened to, when I was told that I had worth, even though I’d just arrived.

The people here have an easy sense of humor. They’re intelligent beyond belief. They are warm and friendly and hospitable and ridiculously wonderful. They’re the type of people who top off your coffee and worry about you getting home safely and want to know all the details about your lesbian wedding. Within five minutes of introduction, they’re laughing with you like they’ve known you forever.

…They’re Unitarian Universalists.

I have never felt so safe, so nurtured, so part of a community than I have in our weeks at Pullman Memorial Universalist Church, and I have been to many, many spiritual gatherings, camps, seminars, circles. When Jenn and I walk through those beautiful, arched doors each Sunday morning, we’re greeted like we’re part of a family of faith.

Because we are.

Last Sunday, Jenn and I lit our two candles from the chalice. Our pastor, Lee, with a wide grin welcomed us into the church. “You are part of us, and we are part of you,” he said, the entire congregation repeating the words. Afterward, we held warm cups of coffee and tea in the beautiful, expansive hall that will house the joyous beings who come to celebrate our wedding. Jenn and I measured the walls (again), talking to Bill about rainbow banners and unicorn decorations, laughing over little things, strawberry jelly (you would have had to be there), leaving after hugs were exchanged, talking about the book club…

To the sunny parking lot across the street where a dead car waited for us.

“I have jumper cables,” said Lee, taking off his tweed jacket, rolling up his sleeves. And, in minutes, the car miraculously started.

I suppose you could be scientific and say: it started because the battery gave it life. I’d rather be sentimental:

I’d asked the Goddess: I feel lonely, spiritually. My priestess friends, my witch loves, my coven sisters are so far from me. I need something here. I need something now. Please. …Please?

And the gay marriage bill was passed, and the wedding was arranged, and the little drive through the country that fateful Sunday, many months ago, found a beautiful little church in the middle of nowhere, with a family waiting for us.

The car totally started on the love of community and Unitarian Universalist Awesome.

(With maybe a LITTLE bit of help from the battery.)

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