May 212012
 

Going with a sung poem tonight (what some folks call a “song”): “Forgiveness,” by one of my favorite Texas artists, Patty Griffin.  I’ve included both the lyrics and a video, so you can hear her singing.

“Forgiveness”
 
We are swimming with the snakes
At the bottom of the well
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell
But we are not snakes and what’s more
We never will be
And if we stay swimming here forever we will
Never be free

I heard them ringing the bells
In heaven and hell
They got a secret
They’re getting ready to tell
It’s falling from the sky
Calling from the graves
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved
Open your eyes, boy, I think we are saved
Let’s take a walk on the bridge
Right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing, baby
We’ve already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air
And we were blessed
Everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

We are calling for him tonight on this
Thin phone line
As usual we’re having ourselves one
hell of a time
And the planes keep flying right over our heads
No matter how lond we shout
“Hey, hey, hey !”
And we keep waving and waving
Our arms in the air
But we’re all tired out

I heard somebody say
Today’s the day
A big old hurricaine
Is blowing our way
Knocking over the buildings
Killing all the light
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night
Open your eyes, boy, we made it through the night
Let’s take a walk on the bridge
Right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing, baby
We’ve already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air
And we were blessed
Everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness
 

It’s been an interesting week. I’ll hope to write more in-depth soon (and want to keep “Poem Sunday” primarily focused on the poems), but I’ve been reminded this week of how important forgiveness is – not the cosmic notion of forgiveness (which I’ll address at some point later, I’m sure), but the kind of forgiveness that happens between people who have acted out of their hurt and have inflicted pain on others.  I’ll call it “on the ground” forgiveness (which I do believe is possible because of the Holy Spirit, so in that sense it is cosmic; but, I’ll hope you get what I’m talking about).

Just yesterday, 75% of the church that raised me voted to leave the PC(USA), in response to the denomination changing its ordination standards, and opening the door for the ordination of LGBT people.  For those who may be reading this and who are not Presbyterian, I won’t get into all of the specifics, but I will say that it didn’t obligate people to ordain (or back the ordination) of LGBT people, but it did make it possible for queer folks to get ordained.  The place where I learned that I was loved unconditionally, where I began to learn about what “church” is, does not see my sense of call as valid.  It has been an ugly fight (as things like this always are), and lots of people have been deeply wounded by things that have been said.  It’s been easier for me to deal with because I’m a couple thousand miles away.  It is the most frustrating when I think about my mom, and my in-laws, who had to look some of their closest friends in the eye as those friends said all of the things one expects to be said in debates of this nature.  It burns me up on some level, to be honest; on another, it just makes me sad to think about the ways we allow our theology to come out sideways on other people.  As frustrating as it may be, I realize that I cannot let myself get lost in that frustration – it’s just too heavy.  I think about my ethics professor talking about the ways hatred kills not only the hated, but also the hater.  Love is at times so much harder than hate, but I am more and more convinced every day that it is also stronger.

My path also crossed this week with someone I knew a long time ago – a friend from a time when we were both younger, much more frightened versions of ourselves.  We were nominally friends, and spent a lot of time together; but we were not very kind to one another.  A lot of this unkindness stemmed from the fact that both of us were terrified of who we were at the time, of being gay and living in a place where neither our theology nor our geography allowed us to live fully into ourselves.  Anyway, after our initial re-connection e-mail, we exchanged a couple of more in-depth messages, trying to get re-aquainted in a way.  I was taken particularly with one thing she said – about how much better we could have been for one another if we’d not been working so hard just to get out of bed every day.  I started thinking about how much more energy we’d had to give out and receive kindness if we’d felt safe enough to be ourselves.  As I was mid-way through writing my second e-mail to my friend, I stopped and realized that, before anything else, I needed to know that we had forgiven one another. There was simply too much hurt in our history to try and keep carrying it around.  The weight that was lifted in both receiving and giving that forgiveness was profound enough that it has allowed the possibility for trust to come in. I’m grateful for that reminder today.

Peace.

  2 Responses to “Forgiveness and some such stuff”

  1. So proud of your mom and your in-laws. Maybe we do well, some of us, to grab the love where we find it in these situations. So I am grabbing the love I feel for your mom and your parents-in-law, holding on to it, and looking forward to when I can give them big hugs.

    I consider the hate (my own) and I think of the bug-infested mulch pile on the back of my property: I know it’s there and I know I need to get rid of it, but sometimes I can just not look in that direction.

  2. and the forgiveness we offer ourselves…one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been offered, by my dear and true friend, was “be gentle with yourself” – funny how once we learn that, we are so inclined to be gentle with others.

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