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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Bonnie Tinker, Still Opening Hearts

Bonnie Tinker is still teaching that Love Makes a Family, the name of the organization she founded. The mortician who cared for her body in Virginia was moved—both by her condition after being crushed by a trash truck and by the love in the room as he met with her family and a few friends around the death certificate. He collected the usual information—birthday, name of parents, etc.—and then came to the simple, loaded question: “Marital status?” There was a pause among her loved ones. Someone mentioned that she’d had a wedding. Then everyone said firmly, “Married”—which she had been for thirty-two years. The mortician nodded and checked the box. “Spouse’s name,” he asked, using the gender-neutral noun, a gesture appreciated by those present. “Sara Graham,” they answered, and he wrote the name with a nod. It was a simple thing, just writing the truth, but the state of Virginia doesn’t recognize Bonnie and Sara’s marriage, so the mortician’s act was subversive, possibly illegal, and as one observer said, “healing.”

This morning as Friends said goodbye on the last day of the FGC Gathering, they passed this story around the cafeteria, eyes brimming up as they speculated on whether the mortician had ever recognized a same-sex marriage before and whether the truth would really make it onto the printed, official death certificate. They remarked that it seemed significant that Bonnie’s ministry of opening hearts to such families was continuing. “Social change from the grave,” said one Friend.

I suppose it’s the best any of us can hope for, that our ministry continues in some way after we’re gone. Bonnie Tinker sought to open hearts with and to love. The fact that she continues to do so in death seems particularly poignant.


Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

That is poignant. I'm going to forward a link to this post to my meeting.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Eileen Flanagan said...

Just got this message forwarded via a Friend: "Sara was at meeting this morning.
The death certificate does say MARRIED."

10:39 AM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

It's been so great to read your posts after I left the Gathering. I feel more grounded, though still a bit tender, as I travel homeward.

And I so enjoyed learning a bit more about you and the ministry you are called to. I hope our paths cross again before long.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

6:56 PM  
Blogger brett said...

This is a very interesting post, and the comments are also fantastic to read. I’ll have to have a little re-think about my own contact form on our new website, as this poses some interesting questions!

study abroad

7:38 AM  

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