I don’t know the moment it started.
I am not talking about the first time we met – I remember that well enough. The pastor of the small church couldn’t (didn’t want to?) deal with my problems so he referred me to you – the newest member of the church staff. The Youth Worker, freshly arrived from London. You seemed quiet, unsure, which at the time I interpreted as not being interested, although you later told me you found it intimidating, the way he expected you to deal with it right there and then.
I don’t know the moment it started. Perhaps it was the sum of several moments.
The moment I walked into church and the sun was streaming in and you were playing your guitar in a blue dress with bare feet, free before God. And I longed to kick my shoes off too.
The moment we were helping to tidy the churchyard and I sat with you and was strangely fixated on your arms, bare, brown, muscled.
The moment I shared with you that terrible thing that I had never told anyone. And you listened. And you comforted. And you didn’t think of me differently.
The moment your brother asked me to look after you and I couldn’t understand why.
Later, in the startling light of discovery, in the confusion of being convicted of sin, in the pain of separation, these were the things I pieced together of you. What made me love you? Your arms, your guitar, your dress, your touch, sudden, unexpected as the wind?
You were exiled to South Africa by well-meaning people. The way to break the dependency, they said. Wait upon the Lord. Be convicted. Walk away from relational idolatry. Don’t contact each other.
You wrote me letters. We were waiting for God to come and pull us away from each other. We encouraged each other to seek Him. In the back of my mind I replayed our first kiss over and over again. But, purity and holiness! Wait and he’ll save us from ourselves…
But He just loved. And you came home. Home to me, on the station platform in the cold air. The delayed train added agonising extra minutes to our time apart.
What made you take such a startling leap away from the life you knew, for me? What strength, from whom, helped you to start all over again? What held you together as your friends left you, one by one, refusing to condone this “lifestyle” of yours (if we were heterosexual, it would have been called love. And they would have all been so proud and pleased for you and us)?
I don’t think many people thought we’d last, but here we are, all these years later.
And, two years ago today, we took all of our love and fears and questions and desires and we gathered our families and our friends together and we said words of promise to each other – words that some would deny us, but that were our words, that could not be taken away.
May I never feel the need or have the urge to leave you.
I choose to make my home with you.
Where you go, I go, travelling with you, keeping you warm at night.
Where you live, I’ll live. We will make a home together and be a family.
Your people are my people and I will love and respect them.
My people are your people. They love you almost as much as I do.
Your God is my God, and we will serve and worship our God together.
This is my promise for as long as I live.
I don’t know the moment it started. Perhaps it was the sum of several moments, moments that still continue, into our future. Together.