Monday, April 5, 2010

A Quakerly Engagement

David and I are Quakers, and this is the fourth Easter that we have spent in Julian, CA. It is a small apple farming and historically gold mining town in the east of San Diego County. The Orange County Friends go there yearly to a Episcopal Campground that values organic cooking, gardening, and nature. We hang out, play games, spend time with each other, eat wonderful food, and talk about Quakerly themed things.

This year we went back to the roots of Quakerism and talked about the core Values of Quakerism. They are Equality, Unity, Simplicity, Community, Integrity, and Peace. We had several discussions and reflections on these values, and I have to say that I really think David and I's engagement was a reflection of several of them.

The engagement was planned. It was something we had discussed for a long time- a mutual decision. I gave David lot's of overt clues because I still like a bit of surprise- but the decision to commit to each other in this way was something that had been discussed and agreed upon in advance.
On Sunday morning, while the children were going on the Easter Egg hunt we took a walk in the woods, and unfortunately as we were about to stop we realized that the awful smell around us was several large compost piles- so we walked a bit farther into the woods. Then David handed me a letter- he said that as a writer this was something he wanted to choose his words carefully before (but that I shouldn't worry because he would still do the knee thing at the end)

The letter was wonderful, and warm, and I think most important to me it was honest and real. It reflected on why he loves me, and the growth that we have seen through the years of our relationship. I think this is my favorite part of the letter.
I don't think you can ever really be certain about what the future holds. But I've let go of my need for certainty, for surety. The process of living is full of risks, full of doubts, full of challenges and compromises and failed ideals. But it's possible to find someone who can help you through all that. And then, when you do meet your goals or fulfill some of those ideals and dreams, you can share that joy with another person, and it's even possible for that other person to help you along the way.

When I finished the letter and crying he got on his knee and I said yes, and cried more and we hugged a lot. It was great and private and real and honest-all of those things.

Then we went back and popped a champagne bottle with the rest of the Friends and had a toast and many hugs and congratulations. After this we had our silent meeting for worship and there were several messages given that included the topic of marriage. I also shared something at meeting. I spoke on the fact that our engagement was evidence of our Quaker values.

Many people gave me a hard time about pre-planning something that is traditionally a surprise- but I think that because equality is at the heart of our relationship it was something that we very much wanted to be mutually planned and mutually decided upon. I am okay with David getting on his knee and giving me a ring, but as far as the traditional surprise element went- I just don't think this goes along with our relationship. We take care to make important decisions together and for us this was one of them. (I am not insulting anyone who has been surprised, I just think that this was right for us.)

I had discussed this topic of engagement with a Friend the day before and she shared with me the process by which her and her partner were engaged. She understood our mutual planning and related to it- this drove home to me the fact that getting engaged and celebrating with the Friends was something that was important to me because I knew that they would understand and support the emphasis on equity in our relationship.

Another value of Quakerism that I felt was emphasized was that of simplicity. I chose a simple ring, but besides that it was a pretty simple engagement. It involved nature, a letter, Friends, and two people who loved each other. Nothing extraneous was needed. The words David used were not over the top or utterly romantic. They were simple and honest- and that is certainly things I want base my relationship in.

The third value I feel was emphasized was community. Having our Friends there to celebrate us and support us meant the world to me. In many ways the people at this meeting have watched us grow. Several specific Friends have been there for us in times of struggle to support us an encourage us on our way- so we felt that it was only appropriate to share something like this with the community that is like a family to us. This week we will continue the celebration with other close friends- because we value the people who love and support us as a couple.

I am not writing all of this to toot my own horn, so to speak. It took a weekend of discussion and conversation for me to truly understand how our values were reflected by the choices we have made in our relationship and in this act of engagement. Because of this reflection and the realization that everything about what happened this Easter was such a good reflection our values as a couple, this act of engagement means more to me then I really ever knew it would.

I am kind of on cloud 9 right now. I am so excited about the future and a relationship with someone who shares this core values with me. We have grown so much ins 3.5 years that I can't imagine the growth that could occur in a lifetime together.

I will leave you with the comic David included in the letter he gave me before he asked me to marry him. Enjoy.

1 comment:

Moore Musings said...

I love all of this :) So happy for you