An international celebration of family

Today, April 8th, we are celebrating. At the Shimogamo jinja Shinto Shrine in Kyoto Joe and Maki are being married in a religious ceremony at this world heritage site.  They are celebrating their love and caring for one another and we are celebrating them.

In this ceremony we are witnessing a melding of cultures, ethnicities, histories and visions of the future. Forty years ago neither Maki’s father (who is a bit older than I) nor Nancy nor  I would have thought that our child would be marrying into a family different from our own in terms of identity, nationality, or culture. Yet today we gather to celebrate our families being joined even though our histories are half a world apart.

It is a day of hope and joy. Our families will be enriched by the traditions and histories of the other. And the chauvinism with which people of my generation grew up is slowly being buried by these cross cultural links. In sociological reality this is a cross-global, cross-cultural event a prototype of what is occurring daily all over the globe . But for us it is much smaller and far richer – we welcome into our family this wonderful, caring woman who has become a companion and loving partner for our son. And we allow ourselves to be welcomed into her extended family and be enriched by their caring, their culture and their history.

Growing up in a white Anglo culture in New York State in the 1940’s & 50’s I could never have conceived of the richness that would be added to our family through a niece from Guatemala who married a man from the Caribbean islands, through a sister-in-law from a Hispanic background, from a niece from China, and now a daughter-in-law from Japan. Our children and grandchildren won’t remember it any other way. Thanks be to God.

We celebrate Joe and Maki’s marriage and life together; we celebrate the joining of the Yakota and Woodworth-Hill families and we celebrate the human family slowly recognizing our being one.


(Pictures to follow)

About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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