An Intimate Boho Backyard Minimony in Durham, North Carolina
Kenya and Wesley first met "in a coffee shop on the busy streets of New York City...Harlem to be exact. While at the coffee shop, Kenya busied herself with eavesdropping on Wesley's conversation about God and community. Thinking that she had found an entry into joining the conversation after hearing his southern accent, Kenya started a conversation with Wesley and asked, 'Where are you from?' Wesley replied, 'North Carolina.' More conversation revealed that we shared a friend in common with whom Kenya followed up to ask for Wesley's email address after we met. We exchanged one email of introduction and shortly thereafter, Kenya moved to Zambia," to continue her work as an infectious disease epidemiologist while Wesley remained in New York City (eventually becoming a chaplain at Harlem Hospital).
As the years passed they remained distant memories in each other's minds, but a relationship never blossomed. However, that all changed when Kenya returned from her time in Africa. When Kenya returned to New York she felt disconnected from life in the city and in a moment of desperation, while standing on the corner of 125th Street and 7th Avenue she stopped and said a prayer. "Lord, I don't feel like I belong here in this country, please let me meet someone today who makes me feel like I belong," she prayed. Right then, she looked across the street and happened to see Wesley sitting on a bench at the bus stop chatting on the phone. Although Wesley didn't see Kenya, she rushed across the street excited to say "to greet the beautiful man whom I'd met years ago," she recalls. As Kenya approached Wesley he was shocked by the person he saw. Just then he set his phone down and put the person on the other line on speaker phone. "Oh my...who were we just talking about?" Wesley asked his friend. The person responded, "the woman Kenya from Africa." The couple's photographer notes: "As God would have it, while Kenya was praying to meet someone to share belonging, Wesley was at the same time thinking of her and calling her presence into existence."
"We acknowledge that this world is covered in suffering...injustice is all around us, our greatest warriors are being called home and we’re in the midst of a pandemic," Kenya candidly shares. "We hold space for all of this but decided that nothing shall deny us the liberation we so desperately desire and nothing shall keep us apart. I believe both grief and joy are intertwined and that the capacity for joy that transcends death is proportional to the depth at which we are willing to grieve. During my ceremony, I grieved walking down the aisle without my dad hand in hand with me. But when I looked up and saw my beautiful husband standing at the end waiting for me I felt God inviting me into a realm of joy as a redemptive response to grief," says Kenya. "Our wedding day we experienced the true meaning of beloved community. Ten elders who have shepherded us through our relationship joined us in person and folks from all across the world joined us via Zoom to witness to our love."