Thunder shook the house, hard enough to wake the proverbial dead. I opened my eyes and thought, *What kind of an omen is this?* The day of a sacred joining. Today two people who love each other deeply are to stand before the community and speak the words that will magically bind them together "for as long as love lasts."
Tossing back the furs on my bed, I climbed naked into the frigid air, so cold that the shock of it took my breath away. My chest felt as if it would refuse to let my heart continue to beat. Where was the warmth of the previous day?
The Gods of the North seemed to speak the winds of objection upon this union. I quickly stepped into the ceremonial robes of my office. As the Priestess and medicine woman of this tribe, it was my job to do the joining. I was to visit the homes of both and ask the rote question, "Why have you chosen this path?" and others. Then, as the day reaches its crest, the chosen ones were to meet me in the sacred cave, and from there were to walk together to the center of the communal gathering.
As I approached the home of the intended bride, I heard angry words. Someone's heart was as cold as this north wind. This was not a good way to begin. The elder male of Sonia's family yelled that her choice would break her mother's heart.
I heard Sonia's voice trembling, in tears, saying, "How can this be a bad thing to love someone so deeply?"
I waited outside. It would not have done for me to formally witness the disagreement. I stood, shivering, trying to hide from the frigid wind. I made some loud noises to let them know I had arrived. Finally, someone near the opening heard me and shushed the angry voices, and Sonia came teary-eyed to invite me in.
We did the formal questions. Sonia had all of the correct responses. Her heart seemed to be ready for the joining. I left her to go to her promised mates.
As I left I heard Sonia's mother say, "If this is love, I think I'll take the heart attack."
The omens seemed overpowering. This joining would be a difficult one. And for once, I agreed that if the love of this family is the measure to judge by, I think, I too, would have preferred a heart attack.