Father Whichart rose to his feet and moved to stand at the table where a candle burned and the Holy Word lay open alongside the Book of Words of the Kindred; most of the gatherings did not rely on words; but the marriage-making had a traditional pattern, written down and passed to children’s children in perpetuity.

It was very quiet in the barn.

‘This is how we were meant to live,’ Father Whichart began to read: ‘in quietness and simplicity, sustained by trust in God and the honest work of our daily lives. We were made to be free. We were made for kindness. We were sent here to express truth, to hold open the door to the Light, so that anyone can find it and come in. We were made to hold sacred the beautiful, holy Earth, which is our mother and our home, and was made by the Most High, not only for our healing and delight, but so that we might learn to nurture, to reverence, to cherish, to protect. We were made for wonder, for contentment, for happiness. We were made to laugh and work and sing, to live in the rhythm of the seasons, to move with the flow of God’s grace. We were made complete as we are; behold, each of us is good, and made by God who overshines our lives in blessing every dawn, every day, every twilight, every night.

‘But above all, Kindred of Believers in this household of faith; be sure in your hearts and convinced in your minds; that we were made to love. Love is humble, love is honest, love is faithful, resilient and tough. Love looks imaginatively into the lives of others, and offers unobtrusively the gifts of service, assistance and friendship. Love is patient with the faults of others, quick to forgive and kind in judgement. The wisdom of love understands the weakness of a friend, and acts quickly to save them from injury or humiliation. Love is ready to say sorry, looks for the best in others, affirms what is good, and seeks to understand every frailty and sin. We are all called to love like this. There is no exception; it is what each of us is here to do.

‘In order to live our lives in this manner, it is essential that we undertake a discipline of simplicity, so that we do not become weighed down with burdensome occupations, or entangled in the cares and pleasures of the World. We are not to live our lives in a hurry, or become too busy, too tired and too anxious to cultivate a patient, generous and cheerful spirit. God asks it of each one of us that we make our home a sanctuary and our presence a gift of loving-kindness. This is not something we are to get round to one day, in fullness of time, when all is attended to: it is how we are expected to live right now, in every day of our lives, by the One who made and fashioned us to be children of the holy Light of God.’

There was quietness among the Kindred as they heard again the description of what they had chosen and promised to be. As they listened, there were one or two who knew they must seek out a Brother, a Sister, and make things better than they were at the present time. Father Whichart turned the page in the Book of Words.

‘My Brothers and Sisters, it is not good for a troll to be alone. God our Father sets the solitary in families, for every one of us needs to be heard and beheld, encouraged and comforted, loved and appreciated and understood.

‘Therefore God has blessed us with many kinds of loving: among children of one household, among the Kindred of Believers, in the friendships that form as we work alongside each other, God is good and we are blessed.

‘And God has given us the mystery and delight of faithful marriage, the precious gift of a companion for our journey, the comfort of growing old together.

‘In marriage we allow ourselves to be broken open; to be seen for what truly and daily we are. In marriage we know the times we are tedious and small-minded, pompous and obtuse are clearly recognised. In marriage we can no longer pretend, we cease to be admired, and we have to be forgiven. Therefore is marriage one of God’s greatest gifts to us, put into our hands to be received with reverence for the making of our souls.

‘Today in this Gathering Place, our Brother, Ebenezer Theodorus Stilleschuyler of the Old Order Forest Kindred of Believers, and our Sister Florence Line Sofie ten Eych of the Kindred of the Quiet Way, come to seek the blessing of this household of faith on their commitment to take their way through life together, as companions on the journey in faithful marriage undertaken in the sight of God.’

Father Whichart smiled at Eb and Flo sitting before him in the front row of benches.

‘Florence, Ebenezer, will you come now and make your promises before the Kindred?’