Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Really Struggling to Be Who I Say I Am...

I have been struggling with something for a very long time...how to
discern when speaking out is courageous and prophetic and when it
serves only to deepen the chasms which already divide us from one
another. Is remaining quiet wisdom or cowardice? And will my words
really convince you- whoever you are- of the logic and rightness of
my position, when I know in my heart of hearts that none of your
words will convince me to accept and adopt yours?

I have watched and heard and read so many words about things
that I consider vitally important, that I see as matters of justice,
inclusivity, and acceptance and I confess that the words coming
from those whose position, ideas, beliefs are diametrically opposed
to my own just make no sense to me. And they certainly do not make
me back off or take a different stance. The realization that this is
true for me makes me wonder just how efficacious arguing about
things really is. What actually impresses us to not only hear but to
listen to an opposing viewpoint in such a way that it can become
inculcated into one's own value and belief system?

For me, learning is mostly experiential. Oh, I learn a great deal from
the books I read, to be sure, and I'm not about to abandon reading
about and researching matters which captivate and interest me,
matters about which I would otherwise know little, about which I
wish to learn more. So far this year, that has included women's
suffrage, the history of lynching in the United States, the on-the-
ground experiences of the young men and women who have served in
Iraq and Afghanistan (several very interesting books out by and about
them), and the inequities of the criminal justice system in this
country. I feel far more well-informed, but I find that even as I am
captivated and convicted by these situations, sharing them, drawing
others into the urgency I feel is problematic...when I am the one
doing the speaking...the urging...the sharing. And I find that the best
I can do is pass on the titles of books which have so deeply affected
and confronted me, content to leave what happens to other readers
in the hands of the author and, perhaps, of the Holy Spirit.

But it seems to me that what really changes the minds and hearts of
people, myself included, are life experiences: meeting people unlike
oneself and finding that you have much in common...that under the
skin, under the surface differences of age, race, gender, sexual
orientation, nationality, there is a unity of mind and heart, and a
realization that that person- that "other"- can no longer be kept at
arm's length but must be, IS, accepted and embraced and welcomed
in a sharing of oneness, the oneness that exists throughout all
humankind as we come to realize that we are all- each and every one
of us- created in the image of God.

Of course, this still doesn't answer my first questions, does it? Or
does it? Perhaps my powers of persuasion, my energies and
determination are far better utilized to inform myself and to simply
share with others the source of my unshakable stand, not only with
words but with deeds. I kind of believe that's what those early
disciples of Jesus did...what he encouraged them to do...to not only
speak truth and love, but to live it- every moment of every day. And
I seem to recall him saying something about loving one's enemies...
no easy challenge in this day of often-vitriolic Facebook posts and
shared misinformation. So, can I say "I believe..." from a place of
love and respect for that "other" who most challenges me? Can I
live the gospel of love, this day and every day? Or am I simply guilty-
by my own words of judgment and self-certainty- of pointing out the
speck in another's eye, even as I am oblivious to the log in my own?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

CELEBRATION!

Today I am still smiling...smiling broadly, my heart overflowing with
joy. You see, last evening, at seven o'clock, I had the great honor,
privilege, gift, of presiding at the wedding of two wonderful friends
whose lives have been intermingled for the last eighteen years.
Greg and Tim were finally able to publicly acknowledge their union
and there were any number of moist eyes in the chapel, including
my own, as they exchanged vows and rings. There was so much
love abounding in that room that I could feel it...quite literally, feel it.
And the blessing of the God of Love and Grace was surely, truly
present, flowing over and around and from these two very special
individuals who pledged their union before that same God and
those of us privileged to be gathered as witnesses.

Now, I have never particularly enjoyed presiding at weddings. Give
me a baptism or a funeral any day. Wedding directors and, all too
frequently, mothers of the bride, can drive me up the wall, as the
emphasis seems to shift from the concept of wedding as worship
to wedding as spectacle. Not so last evening. In the small, lovely,
and intimate chapel at our church, lighted by two dozen small
votive candles and the light of the gloaming shining through colored
windows, these two dear men, in the company of a dozen people
who love them, spoke simply, voices filled with emotion, faces
shining with love and hope and promise- and amazement. Yes,
amazement that such a thing could actually be taking place- here,
now, at this very.moment in time.

Who would ever have thought that in my twenty-five years of
ministry, my favorite wedding would be this one? The joining of two
precious male friends whose love and commitment through thick
and thin, through good times and bad, has already made of their
relationship a holy union. My words and theirs were simply affirming
the reality of what already is- two lives joined on this often-rocky
path called Life, sharing willingly and lovingly all that is to come.
And looking back at the long and difficult road to get to this place
culturally and legislatively, I could not help being both amazed and
awed that this has happened in my lifetime, this affirmation of the
legitimacy of love, whatever form it takes between two people.

Blessings, my dear friends. May you always be as happy and filled
with joy as you were on Saturday, March 28, 2015. And thank you
for according me the great honor of ministering to you in this way.
I will cherish that gift always.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Live and Let Live...

Battle lines being drawn...name calling and prejudices and
the failure to see in the human beings around us our similarities 
rather than just our differences...states like Indiana passing 
laws to justify injustice, to codify the many ways we separate 
ourselves...while prisons are filled with young men of color and
LGBTQ folks are held at arm's length by those who convince 
themselves that they- and only they- have the right to decide 
who has been created in the image of God.

just live!
Moral certainties make my hair
stand on end, make my teeth hurt,
especially when expounded
by those who seem to thrive on drawing
battle lines & boundaries…
whose goal seems separation & one-upmanship
instead of reconciliation & compromise.

Absolutes invite hypocrisy, as we have so
often seen among the ‘famous’ of our day,
as revelation of another’s feet of clay is
met by judgment, anger, and buoyed by
a sense of superiority in those whose own
human faults and foibles have yet to be
revealed.
 
Life, my friend, is messy & confusing,
and far too short to make it about
‘either-or’, ‘for-against’, ‘us or them’…
no ‘one size fits all’ garment covers
every situation…no simple set of rules
applies- unless it is the ‘rule’ of love.
 
For life’s complexity demands our openness…
our acceptance of people different from
ourselves…our willingness to change our
minds & hearts when living proves us
wrong…
            Improvise, Life cries. Create! Imagine!
            Celebrate!
            LIVE!
            Just LIVE!
                  And let LIVE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Growing Wings


Awake...alert to possibilities
Enshrouded in hope
Prodded by pinpricks of daring
A voice variously whispering, singing, shouting
Yes, you can!
Aware that only if I let go of
   security...certainty...routine
Will I ever FLY


Thursday, March 5, 2015

PROGRESS



Putting one foot
In front of the other
Baby step by baby step
Progress- or so we call it
                                  dream it
                                  imagine it
Often measured in centimeters
Until we are caught unawares
By finding ourselves in a
Totally different place



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thoughts on a Dreary Morning

Despair has a seductively enticing voice
     as it whispers its lies
 drawing the aching soul into its
 velvet tentacles of promised rest
                                   release from pain
                                   nevermore
hiding its hideous face behind
    a veil of virgin delights
                   paradise lost and regained
all the while cackling with a witch's horrid laugh
only the damned can hear