Friday, September 08, 2006

The post in which insecurity almost gets the best of me

On Saturday I performed a wedding ceremony. Although I am an ordained minister, this ceremony did not require the blessing of the state. My friends Ellen and Jiro are already married (I performed their legal ceremony two years ago), but this was their wedding, their family and friends, white dress and black suit ceremony.

To prepare for the wedding, Ellen, Jiro, Chris and I did the obvious; we had dinner. We sat on their patio and talked about what Ellen and Jiro wanted in a wedding. I wrote the ceremony, practiced and prepared. When the processional music swelled, I welled up. (And under my breath, swore at myself. I thought I could last longer before I started to cry.) I read my part, prompted Ellen and Jiro for theirs, smiled, cried and and laughed.

During the ceremony, I felt good about what I was saying. I've had the experience, when giving talks and briefings, of hearing myself speak. You know that feeling where you hear yourself as if you are standing outside yourself? Usually when this happens I see myself and think that I am not making sense, that my words sound like gibberish. On Saturday I heard myself speak and felt thrilled - the sentences I'd worried over were coming out right, the meanings emphasized as I hoped, ideas clear and alive. It was one of those perfect moments, radiant and full of joy. The joy was for Ellen and Jiro, and for myself, for my ability to give them such a moment.

After the wedding I was a huge unsheathed nerve. I wanted to laugh and cry and drink gallons of water. I felt wonderful, but as more and more of the wedding guests approached me to say the ceremony was beautiful, that I'd done a good job, I started to lose my high. Instead of absorbing the praise and allowing it to further elevate my mood, it made me doubt how good the ceremony had actually been. Once the jangles wore off (and I'd had a gallon or two of water) I stopped thinking about the ceremony and got into the fun of the reception. The nagging worry held on a little over the next day or so, until my sister told me what she thought of the ceremony.

My sister is very analytic and smart. She's also a great writer whose opinion I value greatly. She said that she thought the ceremony was the most emotional one she'd ever attended. She said that my wedding had been more personally affecting, but as a ceremony this one had been the top. Her comments did for me what everyone else's had not. They brought me back to the joy. I hope I can keep it with me, because it feels wonderful right now.

You know a party is going well when people start fan-dancing


  1. Ah, sisters...

    I have four of them. It's amazing how much their opinions can mean. And it can be hard to appreciate how much my opinion can affect them.

    It sounds like it was a smashing success. :)

  2. wow -- congratulations. praise from someone you trust is about the pinnacle. and when it also comes from someone you love, well, there's nothing better than that.

    except maybe fan dancing.

    and not to dilute your ministry, but when bob and i were planning our wedding, we were hoping our friend larry would officiate. while exploring ULC (to see if it was responsible to ask him to get ordained for us) and trying to figure out if it was really as easy as all that, we ordained our cat. i still have the certificate for Reverend Elkin, who was ordained this Eighteenth day of November, 1998.

  3. sounds wonderful. i am so glad you have the joy back! knowing you, i am going to trust that you are in fact clothed somewhere behind that fan!

  4. I'm more and more intrigued by you every day.

  5. I second-guess my own happiness and behavior ALL THE TIME, and I'm glad you were able to put that to rest for something so special.

  6. Taking compliments sucks, eh?

    ps.. the folks took in 4 restaurants, and counting!

  7. wahoo... for honest praise and fan-dancing!

  8. that parasol is so lovely. but I'm tripping out that you're ordained! please explain that in a post sometime. I'm super-curious as to how you arrived there.

  9. Ordained minister? And where have I been all this time? You learn something new every day. Very cool.