Jul 302012

I came across this article yesterday, titled “Six Things Straight People Should Stop Saying About Gay People;” and, while I think the conversation could be more nuanced in particular ways (specifically dealing with the issues transgender folks face every day, and with the particularities that lead one to find fulfillment in a relationship with someone of the same sex), I appreciate that the article was written by a straight, evangelical woman who herself has been transformed by her relationships with people who are not straight.

Many people think they don’t know anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender – this is in large part because it is not always safe for LGBT people to disclose their gender or sexual identity. Regardless of what you may think, I guarantee you that you do know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Thinking about your words, regardless of whether or not you are in the company of someone you know to be gay, might make it easier for those people you know to trust you. What we say does make a difference. . .

Jul 292012

I spent the weekend with an amazing group of people who reminded me of the power of community, and of the resilience and empowerment that comes in merely recognizing that our stories need to be told; that they need to be heard. The poem below is kind of long, but well worth the read.

“Shine,” by Andrea Gibson

I was once told the story of a shaman
Who woke every single morning of his life
Crying for all the world’s sorrow
And yet every day
He would rise and shine bright
He would walk the path
From morning to night
When he would light the night sky
With the stars
That would shine inside his dreams
And for every hell he ever saw
He made himself become the hope
That tugged the rope
That rang the bell
In the steeple
Of the people’s hearts
He would part the seas of greed
With the outstretched hands of his giving
Replacing the hate
With the most amazing grace
This world has ever seen
A week ago
Another war started
And there wasn’t a poem inside me
That wasn’t crying
There wasn’t a poem inside me
That didn’t pound
With the sound
Of a thousand bombs screaming
To where children on the ground
Were dying
And I didn’t want to speak
I didn’t want to sleep
Because I didn’t want to wake
To another morning of mourning so many
When already
Tomb stones had paved
As many prairies
As highways had
And the traffic
Was backed up to my heart
And I didn’t know where to start
Like it was all too much
Like I could never reach to touch
A healing hand
To the wounds the world
Stood so brutally branded with
Like I couldn’t bear the pain
Like I could never
Find the strength
To lift a prayer of faith
Beneath it all
And I felt so small
Felt like we were all so small
Too small
To even knock a dent
Into the door
That holds the hateful hinges
Of this war
And a week ago
I almost wanted to give upBut then
I remembered the story
Of the man
Who lived his life as a light
Through even the darkest nights
His eyes held the song of the dawn
And his sorrow
Was the thing that kept him moving on
Kept him building a better tomorrow
I remember the story
And somewhere
Behind every thing inside me
That had felt so small
Behind every voice inside me
That was doubting
Came a voice behind that
Loud and proud
Like my grandmother’s voice
“What do you mean you’re small?
Of course you’re small
We’re all small
But we are small
Like the moon is small in the sky
And not a wave would ever
Find its way to shore without us
We are all as small
As a single tide
But if that tide
Were to ever stop
The entire ocean
Would freeze in shock
And nothing in it would survive
We are all small
Like the notches
On the line
That will one day wind
The revolution
Through every gutter in this world
Then it’s time
We start believing in our power
Because the darkest hour
Will only come
If we refuse to flower
The light
That has always burned
Bright inside us”So decide
What would you die for?
Then live
Every moment of your life
Like you were born
Into this life just to save it
Knowing the light
At the end of the tunnel
Is the fire of your faith
So never put it out
And every time you start to doubt
Listen to the cries
Of everyone who has come before you
Pushing you on
They know
There has never been a bomb built
That can wilt the petals
Of your power
When you allow yourself to bloom
When you bloom
There will be no room for anything else

Gandhi said
You must be the change
That you wish to see in the world
So you’ve been curled up and sad?
Depression is the first blessing
It means you’ve been in tune
But now the moon is waiting
For you to burn bright
And there has never
Been a time
When your light
Was needed more
Never a time like this before

Yes you are small
We are all as small
As a single breath
But tied to the rest
We are all the life of the world
The pulse that turns rocks to pearls
Inside the darkness
Of their shells
So become the well
Where wishes are born
Become the bell
That rings when even
The birds refuse to sing
Become the wings that fly
And every time you’re full of sorrow
Every time you wake up crying
Know that that day
Is a perfect day
To shine

Jul 182012

I’m working on the order of worship for Sunday, and just came across this prayer of confession (in the Worship Sourcebook) – felt like it might work nicely in tangent with my most recent post.  Gotta love those Holy Spirit moments…

     Merciful God,
     for the things we have done that we regret,
     forgive us;
     for the things we have failed to do that we regret,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have acted without love,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have reacted without thought,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have withdrawn care,
     forgive us;
     for all the times we have failed to forgive,
     forgive us.
     For hurtful words said and helpful words unsaid,
     for unfinished tasks
     and unfulfilled hopes,
     God of all time,
     forgive us and help us
     to lay down our burden of regret.

Amen. May it be so.

Jul 182012

Quindlen quote

I came across this image on Facebook today, and it’s been kind of boring a hole into my brain ever since.  I found myself thinking, after posting it, about all of the stories I’ve heard about parents whose kid’s coming out completely changed the way they understood gender identity and sexual orientation.  For instance, just recently I read this powerful story about a Southern Baptist minister’s experience at the realization that his son had AIDS.  Though there are a good number of stories about homeless teens whose parents kicked them out when the youth came out, more and more it seems we are hearing stories of parents who’ve become advocates upon hearing that their child is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

After re-posting the image to my Facebook wall, I found myself trying to write a caption on the image, or comment on it – to somehow clarify that I know that parents will say things that their children will take to heart, to acknowledge that I’ve unintentionally hurt someone by making a short-sighted comment about a particular group, without realizing the offended person was a part of said group.  I then thought maybe I should just not post the image, or give a longer explanation about why I posted it, for fear of unintentionally alienating someone who may feel some residual guilt for whatever they may have said at some point in time.  My caption then seemed like it would be a better blog post…

The reason I decided to go ahead and post it is because it points out the particularities associated with GLBT people, particularly with GLBT youth.  Because the development of identity and self-recognition is an evolving process, many GLBT people may not realize they are queer until they are into their teenage years, or even older – many who do realize it at a younger age often don’t come out until they are older.  By that time, they’ve already soaked up a lot of the values of their parents and their environment (school, church, tv, etc).  Coming out is scary enough in itself – it can be downright terrifying if you’ve heard only negative associations with queer people.  Though the world is changing, there is still an overwhelming amount of negative talk around GLBT people – that kind of talk can weigh on a person after a while, and that weight can add up.  Ideally, children will be born into a world and brought up in homes where they know it’s safe to be who they are.

But . . . well, children are human, and are raised by humans; as such, it is inevitable that they will come out of childhood with some baggage – it’s all part of the complexity of being in relationship.  Life and love are complicated – they just are.

Words matter.  It is important that parents know that, when they say hurtful things about LGBT people, they may be saying hurtful things about their children.

Words matter.  Just as they can hurt, they can also heal; and, there is a whole lot to be said for a parent’s willingness to say “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that my words hurt you, or if anything I’ve said has in any way implied that I do not fully love you as you are.”

I have a good friend who once told me that she found a tremendous amount of freedom in recognizing that she could apologize to her children – that in being able to genuinely say “I’m sorry” for something she had done, she acknowledged to her child, and to herself, that she didn’t have to be perfect – that adults (parents even!) could mess up, too.  In that willingness, she was also telling her children that they didn’t have to be perfect, that they would make mistakes, they would hurt one another, and be hurt by one another – and that grace and forgiveness would abound even in those moments.

Grace and forgiveness abound, even in those moments when we fear we have said something that cannot be taken back, even when our shame or fear or pain make it hard to forgive ourselves – grace and forgiveness abound.

Jul 162012

by Rumi

     A story is like water
     that you heat for your bath.

     It takes messages between the fire
     and your skin. It lets them meet,
     and it cleans you!

     Very few can sit down
     in the middle of the fire itself
     like a salamander or Abraham.
     We need intermediaries.

     A feeling of fullness comes,
     but usually it takes some bread
     to bring it.

     Beauty surrounds us,
     but usually we need to be walking
     in a garden to know it.

     The body itself is a screen
     to shield and partially reveal
     the light that’s blazing inside your presence.

     Water, stories, the body,
     all the things we do, are mediums
     that hide and show what’s hidden.

     Study them,
     and enjoy this being washed
     with a secret we sometimes know,
     and then not.

I’ve read this poem about 10 times in the last day or so, and I take something different with me each time I read it. So, I think I’ll resist the temptation to filter it through my various responses, and let the Spirit do with it as she will.