Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.
~ Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (NIV)
I’d like to share an excerpt from a paper I wrote sophomore year of college in my autobiographical writing class:
Walking in the back door, a friendly voice greets me by name. My heels click as I walk down the hallway in time with the floating voices of the choir warming up. Weaving my way through the crowded concourse, the organ music rattles the glass doors as the current church service draws to a close. Giggles ring through the air as children push their way in and out of the sea of legs. Familiar laughs and voices surround me, and I know that I am at home with my family. Because, as Vanessa Carlton comments, “sometimes family are the ones you choose” (Carlton).
Grace Covenant has led me to form the kinds of relationships you know will last. In the nursery of Mom’s bible study class during my toddler years, I received hugs, kisses, and homemade Valentine’s cards from a boy named Trey. Our relationship never moved to a romantic level, but Trey is the one who took me to my senior prom and is still a constant in my life today.
My relationship with the church has taught me the power of love and the strength and support that comes from that feeling. We have taken a stand in the Presbyterian church’s beliefs on gay rights by ordaining a lesbian in our church. We have supported families through countless battles with cancer, suicides, and premature deaths with more homemade meals and greeting cards than is imaginable. We have celebrated births, baptisms, first Communions, confirmations, and weddings.
I like to think that my family has made a mark on Grace Covenant, too. After my preschool class, which was held at the church, I would sit on the floor in the hallway playing with my Polly Pockets while my mom helped paint the beautiful Noah’s Ark mural in the education wing. I still point out to visitors the inside of the pink flamingo that I was allowed to help with. My dad points out that the bird he helped with had to be painted over.
Part of what makes a family strong is having a background and a common sense of roots. Oftentimes in a biological family this comes almost automatically—common ancestry, common experiences. But with my church family, it is something we had to create ourselves, and I am thankful every day to Mom and Dad for helping to create such a support system in my life.