“I’m not going to stop kissing Matt when you two get married.”
I looked up to see Rose, one of the “senior saints” at my soon-to-be-husband’s little church. Unless the roads were icy and wet, Rose was in her place, in her pew, every Sunday morning, and at the end of every service she sought out Matt at the back of the sanctuary to kiss his cheek. She was smiling now as she warned me that the practice would continue after our June wedding.
That wedding was just a month away, and I was up for one last visit with Matt and the kids before heading home to pack up my house and begin final preparations. I visited every couple of months, always planning my trip to include a weekend so I could be at church and start getting to know this spiritual family.
It would be a new experience. For the last decade-plus, I’d been one of those singletons church leaders hate, who get to church a couple times a month in between business trips and sleeping in. I’d worshiped at sprawling megachurch campuses where no one noticed me, and while I did volunteer—singing on the worship team or teaching four-year-olds in Sunday school—my commitment level was low. Now I was going to a church of under 100, and I would be the pastor’s wife.
I didn’t know Matt was getting the church ready for me even as I got ready for them. In a couple of weeks, on Matt’s last Sunday in the pulpit before the wedding, he would thank them for their kindness and loyalty during the dark time when his first wife walked away, and encourage them to encourage me as I settled into my new home. (He also told them every person has issues in their past, things they’re not proud of, and the church should be a safe place so please be aware that ……… Jen’s a vegetarian.)
But on this Sunday in May, I was still finding my way, and hoping these people who had been so supportive of Matt and the kids would find a place in their hearts for me, as well. And so I looked up at Rose and smiled and told her I understood—Matt would be sad if he didn’t get that kiss from her every Sunday morning.
“Well, honey, I’m just tellin’ ya, you know. But to make it fair I’m going to kiss you every week, too.”
Three years later, she still is.
Photo (Flickr CC) by cenz