The other night I kept dreaming, "The rabbi is coming! The rabbi is coming!" In my dream I was living in Harvard Square, where I lived when I married my first husband. I had to get home in time for this appointment with the rabbi. But I couldn't find my street in Oakland, much less my house, because I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Nevertheless: "The rabbi is coming, the rabbi is coming!" I kept repeating, in a state of great excitement, until I woke up.
Yesterday evening, the rabbi came to our house. I like it that he's slight and unassuming and used to be a labor lawyer. He wears a little knit cap all the time, and carries a laptop. We talked for several hours, drinking tea and nibbling on edamame, crackers and hummus, home-made cookies, store-bought cookies, dolmas, tamari almonds, dried peaches, olive tapenade, and strips of sweet red peppers (I wonder if he gets served basically the same food at all the Bay Area liberal families he visits: vegetarian, Mediterranean, "safe" in terms of kosher, dairy-free, wheat-free...)
We talked about our upcoming wedding; he gave us an overview of the structure for Jewish weddings, and told us which elements we could re-invent or re-imagine (just about all of it, as it's Renewal.) I had never had that kind of concentrated private attention from a rabbi before. He asked us in a completely non-judgmental way about our spirituality. It was clear that any answer we gave would be acceptable.
I won't write about C's answers, because they are private to him. For myself I don't feel God as anthropomorphic, except that sometimes I think God is the aggregate of all consciousness everywhere, including the consciousness of rocks and trees. I kind of imagine God as a big cloud, maybe a glittering soft cloud of connection, like the cloud of gnats that buzz around a Redwood tree on a hot hazy day, only not annoying, like gnats. (Well, maybe sometimes annoying.) I experience God in the whirlwind, in the breeze, in anything airborne, swarms of bees, dust storms. Not that those are necessarily signs of God's presence, but I imagine God's presence to feel like that, something enveloping and yet not concrete--something you can sense but not grasp.
I didn't say all this at our meeting. I said that my concept of God had changed, was changing over the years.
The rabbi said, "Years? That's very stable of you. My concept of God changes from hour to hour."
He asked us to write a vision statement for our relationship. Later we'll have more writing assignments to fulfill. I got excited about writing a vision statement. (Lists! Goals! You're singing my song!) Then I realized I don't know exactly what a vision statement is. I googled it. The web site How to Write a Compelling Vision Statement says: "A vision statement is a vivid idealized description of a desired outcome that inspires, energizes and helps you create a mental picture of your target. It could be a vision of a part of your life, or the outcome of a project or goal.
Vision statements are often confused with mission statements, but they serve complementary purposes.
The best vision statements for result areas describe outcomes that are five to ten years away, although some look even further out..."
I am so glad we are doing the wedding this way: consciously. Of course there will be all the brouhaha about a chupah, a dress, and C's clothes, and rings, and flowers, and food, and music. Logistics and aesthetics. But this is the heart of why we're even bothering to get legally married, so we can ask and consider and commit to these questions: what do we intend to do with our time here together, and with this love which we were lucky enough (and bruised enough) to cherish when we found it?
The other thing he told us which moved me so much was that since Prop 8 passed, he doesn't want to sign our marriage certificate. Since he can't perform that function for the gay couples he marries, he doesn't want to do it for the straight ones--it would be discriminatory. If Prop 8 is still in effect by summer--which I hope it won't be--we'll go down to City Hall and get a marriage certificate signed there, and then do the religious ceremony at synagogue, just like any gay couple in our congregation.
This feels right to me. I already feel badly about being able to enjoy the privilege of legal marriage which my gay friends are excluded from. I am glad our rabbi has integrity and is committed to fairness as we are.
In writing news: I was going great guns on Love Shack until the weekend of studying drug addiction issues kind of knocked the wind out of my creative sails. I am used to being fairly casual and practical about my writing and sometimes I forget how delicate the process is. I am going to see Carla today and she's going to try and download the B-52s song Love Shack for me to listen to. I hope that gets me back into it.
Meanwhile I rewrote the self-defense essay again, for the thousandth time, and am working on the rewrite of the Carla article (again, for the thousandth time.) And Tim wants to re-enter the process of recording my hot tub play as a radio play, so we'll work on that in a couple of weeks.