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Wedding Reflections: 12 days before the wedding, our meet-cute and other notes

My fiancé and I met on the 4th of December 2022 in a historic chapel at the intersection of Shoreditch High Street and Hackney Road.

The chapel, said to be the legendary burial place of Shakespearean actors, is serene and made mostly of grey stone. The corridor window cast shades of light onto the newly laid wooden floor. Above the altar is a rich and exotic glass panel that tells the story of Christ, held in his mother's arms; and of Christ, risen from the grave to glory. The panel also features believes from across the decades, whose garb and robe indicate to us that the stained glass may have been a more recent addition.

The church, St Leonard's, stands on what is possibly one of the oldest sites of continuous Christian worship in England. In 12C, the church was structurally damaged, and in 1740, a new building was constructed. The church is charming because it has repurposed itself many times, providing security to the people of East London who were emotionally and physically wounded by word wars, vandal and instability.

Currently, the church is known for its worship and artistry, for worship and art is the heart of its congregation. The chapel acoustics are unforced, which explains why the renowned Baroque composer George Frederic Handel occupied the building for rehearsals in 18th century. Writers, actors and composers worship in the building, strengthened and enriched by one another's faith. As a poet myself, and believer in God, this was my church for the six months leading up to the moment when Joshua and I met.

The account of how we met begins across the street in a bespoke, work-café around 4:20pm. Joshua's version is rich with detail that deserves to be heard from him. But in my own recollection, he was a young man sat in the café's front window waiting for the 5pm service to begin. I remember that he glanced in my direction as I entered, and that I smiled because his gaze was unassumingly gentle.

Later that night, Joshua and I met in the smaller hall of the church when the World Cup match between England and Senegal was projected on the wall. We went for a meal that night in the only restaurant still open on Berwick Street; a BBQ joint with red lettering in the window. The room was dark, but Joshua lifted our conversation. He made me feel light. I had never met anyone like him before.

We began a friendship that evening, and it has carried us through much heaviness and sorrow, beauty and gratitude. We learned how to rely on one another, to find the crook of one another's elbow on a crowded street, to watch a movie and marvel at our likeness with characters from a bygone era, to blush at the clumsiness of being in the early stages of love, to become so comfortable with one another that our desire for one another became delight in one another. We learned how to walk for miles without destination, to make amends without time for repentance, to repent when there was little time. We learned how to weep without the warmth of presence, to make meals with few ingredients, to bask in a rich, expensive date. We learned how to ask for prayer, to find hope in the hospital, to adjust. We learned how to let the other grow without manipulation but genuine care. Most of all, we learned how to laugh, content when there was little and when there was much.

I am blessed; I have found a man who carries me through sickness and anxiety, who prays for my courage and hope. When I am with him, I feel God's love because I know that I am fully known. My love is for a man who seeks in all things to protect my purity and peace. As our relationship grows deeper, like all valued things do, I pray that it becomes a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in its season and does not wither. In whatever we do, I pray that we may prosper, maturely reflecting the breadth and height of God's incomparable love.


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