This is the last in a three-part series: Marguerite doesn't pray for snow anymore.
"Let's just say for the past 25 years, the only time I pray is when I'm taking off or hit turbulence in an airplane."
It took years for Marguerite to reconcile the conflict between her feelings and her faith. In the end, faith lost.
"I'm not sure what that higher power looks like, or if it only consists of finding the higher power within my own being. I may fall somewhere into the agnostic category these days."
She and the rector's wife created a life together, learning to navigate the world anew in light of their sexuality. Visits with her sons were bittersweet.
"We tried to make it as normal as possible ... But it was always hard when they had to go. It wasn't fair to their dad because it was most always fun when they came to visit us, and then he got them back for school, homework, punishments, etc."
"Normal" also meant continuing to hide her sexuality from her family. They eventually found a community of people with similar stories — many more tragic than theirs — helping them to find comfort and acceptance in themselves. When she finally decided to break her silence, she told her oldest son first, when he graduated high school.
"Interestingly, when I revealed my sexuality to [him], he said he was glad he didn't know the real reason at the time, because it would have been beyond his capability to deal with it at his age. So I guess I'm glad I waited."
Marguerite then told everyone in her family. She says the reactions were unanimous.
"Well, duh. As long as you're happy, we're happy. We love you."
As happens when any marriage dissolves, hurtful words were spoken that can never be taken back. But Marguerite credits her ex for raising their sons to be the wonderful individuals they are today.
"It was difficult on us both. I understand this was a very emotional and hurtful time for him as well, and he was just trying to preserve and protect his own being and do what he thought best for our children. He's an extraordinary individual, which is what led me to marry him in the first place."
It was never easy, but they can all look back with regret, forgiveness and love.
"It has taken a while, but we are an extended family. It speaks to the people we've all become."
Of the rector's wife — still her soul mate and life partner — Marguerite speaks with honeymoon tones.
"I've never felt the type of spiritual bond or love of another human being as I feel with [her]. She can love me more in one minute than any man could love me in a lifetime."
Like any relationship, they've had their ups and downs.
"The old tapes in my head have told me for so many years that I wasn't good enough or didn't deserve her love. But I do. We all deserve this kind of love."
Would they marry if it were legal? Of course. But they don't need a document or a word to validate their feelings, she said.
"Truthfully, I don't care if it's called marriage — keep marriage for church — or civil unions ... I just would like the same rights I would have if I married a man."
As she sees it, there's hypocrisy in a religious culture that fights against same-sex marriage while other factors are truly responsible for the institution's erosion.
"Britney Spears can be married for 18 hours, Liz Taylor can marry as many men as she wants, and people will only shake their heads and forget about it." Then she adds sarcastically, "But couple a man and man or a woman to another woman? What's the world coming too?"
Hypocrisy. Selfishness. Fear. Control. Resent. Sounds like a recipe for our human condition. At the heart of our laws and norms, beliefs and spiritual dogma are the people who created them — none better, smarter or more spiritually evolved than another. All equally flawed.
When I started this, I was looking for an answer. I don't think I got it. As a Christian myself, I was saddened that Marguerite lost her faith, and that's what drove me to explore this. I want her to have all the joy and rights as everyone else.
But I also understand why others, led by conservative Christians, oppose this. They quote the adage "love the sinner, hate the sin," to clarify their beliefs. Sadly, that only serves the one who hates. It's not a very inviting slogan to the one it's aimed at.
My prayer is that by focusing on a person, we can find some commonality in this debate. If we can, maybe those who believe in God will get that much closer to him. And those who don't will respect believers as they do everyone else.
This may work for some, but I know it won't for most. Mankind clings to its hatred like a security blanket. And that saddens me the most.
PATRICK CANEDAY can be reached on Facebook, at http://www.patrickcaneday.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.