A 21st Century Candlelight

Remember sorority candlelights?

You'd get all the girls in the chapter together to stand around in a circle, sing sorority songs, and pass a  candle. Then, after the candle had been passed around the appropriate number of times, one of your sisters blew it out, signifying the big news in her love life. She'd been lavaliered, pinned, or gotten engaged. It was one of those quintessential college moments. And, for those of us who were single, or not serious about our boyfriend, or whatever the situation may have been, it was more than a little alienating. Most of the time, we were happy for the sister who had the good news. Many of us, and I certainly counted myself among these ranks, had no interest in settling down in our early twenties. Still, for all of us who weren't blowing out the candle, there was a moment of feeling left out.


A few weeks ago, my sorority sister Shannon had some really big news to share with us all. Shannon, an Owensboro native, lives in Minneapolis with her partner, Ruanita, and their three adorable children. After fifteen years together, Shannon and Ruanita can legally be married in their state. Even as a mother of three, Shannon has promised us, she's going to be a full-on bridezilla. She's certainly earned that right.

As Shannon kept us all updated on the status of the Minnesota same-sex marriage bill via Facebook last month, I joked that I would find a way to throw her a candlelight if the bill passed. I was thrilled when the Minnesota legislature upheld their end of that bargain, and some of us immediately began brainstorming a way to make a candlelight happen. We settled on one of those invitation-only Facebook groups, to which several of our sorority sisters were invited. 

Now, you can't have a candlelight without songs. We "sang" our old familiar songs by typing them out, verse by verse. It was a beautiful juxtaposition -- a group of retired Southern sorority girls upholding our oldest traditions, but with a decidedly 21st century twist. 

As the words of a traditional candlelight song came back to me -- "Phi Mu in a word is love" -- I realized that it didn't matter that the flicker of a candle had been replaced by the backlight of computer screens across the country. And, while it was monumental that we were celebrating our friend's long-overdue right to marry the woman she loves, we weren't really even taking a political stance. We were just telling our smart, funny, awesome friend that we're happy for her.

For once, it felt like a candlelight where nobody was left out.

{You can read more about Shannon's adventures in parenting on her blog, Chronicles of a Clueless Mom.}