(We landed safely. International travel is BORING with a capital BORING, we both have jetlag and wah.)
We went to see the vicar tonight. As he’s doing the wedding-which-isn’t-a-legal-wedding, this is somewhat simpler than it may otherwise be. Nothing we have to answer or do for legal reasons, just paperwork that the church requires him to complete before marrying us.
Of course, the topic of religion came up, because, well, this is a wedding in a church. Despite my stated ambivalence, it’s something that was important to Tobermory’s parents – family tradition involves Marrying In A Church, and while neither of us are particularly religious, seeing as the Parents are paying, bowing to their tradition seemed… reasonable. It’s Church of England, after all; they aren’t exactly known for being hard nosed or strict.
I have been very conflicted on this, I will admit. Having left my childhood faith, religion in general left a sour taste; Tobes isn’t a religious person at all*, and the closest I can come to adequately explaining my own opinions on the topic is “It’s… complicated.” Originally I completely refused to even consider the idea. I subsequently realised how important it was for Family Tradition reasons, and conceded that maybe with a few concessions, I could possibly think about doing it. Tobermory has, bless him, mostly left me to it; has listened to me rant and rave, calmly offered alternate opinions, pointed me at websites, and occasionally smacked me upside the head with a “no, you idiot, CofE doesn’t work like that!” stick.
So, church wedding, conducted by vicar. This meant leaving spaces in the ceremony for religious things to occur.
I wrote our ceremony myself, with Tobermory’s agreement. I gave it to the vicar, with a request to re-write it in his own words**, leaving various blanks saying things like [Prayer] and [Blessing] because I knew they were required.
So, we talked tonight, the topic of How Does Mahal Feel About Religion arose, Mahal promptly burst into tears. Partly jetlag; I do generally avoid bursting into tears when religion is discussed. Well, you know, I generally avoid bursting into tears regardless of the topic, but religion being the topic at hand, I generally avoid crying over that too. I pointed out that, mostly as a result of my life/religious choices, the only people in my family who speak to me are my mother and maternal grandmother; and that while I do have time for the idea of whatever higher power you choose to worship, I have very little time for religion. There is a place for faith. I sort of vaguely acknowledge that there may be a higher power, somewhere, but I’m not willing to speculate any further than that. Provided I attempt to be a decent person, I figure any deity that matters will be capable of looking into my heart and working out whether I’m worth caring for.
The vicar’s a nice man, I’m jetlagged and emotional, I’m getting married and emotional, I am religiously confused and upset and emotional; call it what you will. He wasn’t pushy; he was kind and understanding. He wasn’t excessively inquisitive, once he realised just how upset the whole discussion of Why I Left Childhood Faith makes me. Or, at least, made me tonight. He wasn’t critical of some of the various ideas that Tobes and I shared about religion in general, some of which I know for a fact would intensely annoy my dear mother. Presumptuous as it is coming from my heathen mouth, I’d judge him a genuine Christian, and a good vicar – he cares about his flock, even people like me who are not (and will not be) part of it.
We talked for the better part of two hours, the vicar and Tobermory and me. Wedding stuff, religion, how-we-met, us-as-at-present-moment, things like that. As we prepared to leave, he asked us to allow him to pray with us.
I’ve walked out of the evening feeling … distinctly less antipathy towards religion. And no, I’m not going to magically make over my ways and start going to church. There isn’t a religion that could tempt me into that. It is complicated, and frankly short of extensive therapy I doubt I will resolve my issues with religion any time soon, because they are deep seated, extensive, and ongoing.
But some part of my conflicted little soul feels easier tonight.
* In fact, he has scathing disdain for the majority of organized religion, and other than a generalized willingness to accept that there is a possibility that Higher Power[s] Of Choice may possibly exist, has no truck with faith or religion at all. I entirely understand and appreciate the position, particularly as he comes to it from a position of EXTENSIVE teaching and research about a large variety of religions and faiths.
** Because I’d lifted quotes and ideas from various websites and such, and some of it was horribly Twee and some of it was gosh darn American, neither of which would sound at all natural emerging from a lovely British vicar.