Wednesday, 16 September 2009

A Quaker wedding

On Saturday last, we were present for the first time at a marriage in a Friends' Meeting House. The celebrating couple and their guests sat round in an open square. There was piano music from a CD player before the appointed hour; then silence. Virtually the only formal words spoken were those of each of the parties: "I take this my friend John," in the bride's case, "to be my husband, promising through Divine assistance to be unto him a loving and faithful wife, so long as we both on earth shall live." It was delightful in its simplicity and in the sincerity with which the words were spoken: how often does the presence of a priest or minister prevent one from remembering that marriage is a sacrament administered by the parties to one other.

The guests originated from 15 different countries, all coming together to celebrate in Wells-Next-The-Sea on the remote North Norfolk coast. There was a party in the evening in one of the seaside Whelksheds, part museum witnessing to the town's maritime history, part John's studio.

We had stayed a distance inland the night previously, in a gracious estate house with 16th Century origins: above shows the kitchen. On the night of the wedding, our B&B (recommended) was of similar age, in the incredibly picturesque village of Little Walsingham. The atmosphere could not be further removed from that of Lourdes.

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