This essay is one to read, re-read and savor. It begins:
To be honest, we never expected a welcome. We certainly never expected an invitation. But there we were, five years ago, two women in our pastor’s office, letting him know that we were a couple (in case he hadn’t picked up on that) and that we would in a few weeks be showing up at church not to sit in our separate spots (she in the choir, I in the middle-back) but to sit as a family with our two newly adopted sons in tow.
We didn’t want that reality just sprung on him, a thoughtful and decent man who, we expected, might get an earful from a few parishioners in the ensuing days and weeks. We asked if our coming to church like that was OK with him. Our priest said he appreciated the heads-up. “Just come, just come,” he insisted, expressing considerable relief that we had nothing else to discuss (“When I saw your names in my appointment book, I was afraid you might be asking me to bless your union”). He then inquired as to the boys’ names and ages and, hearing that the eldest would be almost six, asked, “Will you send him here, then, for school?” My partner and I shot a glance at each other. We said we hadn’t figured that was a possibility. We’d been struggling with the school question a bit. Sending the kids to the village public school in the very rural district where we lived was out of the question. We wanted a more demanding education for them. Sending them to our parish school in the small city in which we worked was, we had thought, equally out of the question. The priest raised both eyebrows. “No, not out of the question. Not at all. Send them here. In fact, I don’t even think you’d be the first same-sex couple to do so.” We’d had no idea. He thought a bit, came up with the family’s name, and said he thought all three of the girls were still enrolled and doing fine. We were stunned. Of course we’d want to send our kids there, then. Of course.