Today was our last official day of campus visits for the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride…
It is now midnight and all I can do is sigh…
At this point, if I think about it in too much depth, I will melt in my tears. As we wrap up this colossal road trip, I am finding the conclusion of this communal experience completely bittersweet. The bittter? I will miss my tribe, by people, my purpose, my cause. The sweet? I will return home to California and all that is familiar.
I am ready to go home. Or rather, ready to go back to my almost three year old son Jubal-Lee. I am not so much home sick as I am Jubal-Lee sick. “Home” has become a completely relative word over the last two months and will continue to be that way for the next 4 months of camping. “Home” has been a motel in Rexburg, Idaho. “Home” has been a hotel in Portland, Oregon. Row 15 on a coach bus with rainbow colored interior was a place I called “home” for 12 hours at a time. However, “home” was never complete because it did not include Jubal-Lee. So now I realize that home will be found with the people I love the most. Right now there is only one human that I love the most. My little one. When I find nothing else in the files of my mind that I can smile about, I conjure up an image of him…and there it is. A heart smile. A soul revival. True and pure love. A love that is so hopeful and so intentional. A love worth everything in the whole world. A love that I must return to. My job is complete. I return soon.
Today on campus we were in full force, all 52 passionate and collected Equality Riders. We stood vigil at Bethany Lutheran College for two hours. I spoke with two officers of the peace an hour into it. I explained once again that our intention was not to get arrested, but rather talk with and connect with students. They knew that was not going to happen on campus, and so they prepared accordingly, as did we, though we continued to hold out hope for an enriching on-campus dialogue with Bethany Lutheran students and faculty.
At noon, we broke vigil and flooded the campus green like a wave. Ten Riders met police with poster pictures of the Ride in their arms. I was able to make it over to a group of students, introduce myself and shake some hands. (One girl turned her head and said, “No thank you.”) I knew every moment counted at this point, as I saw the officers approach. There were now what seemed to be as many officers as there were students. The original two had multiplied, emerging from thin air. I smiled to each student and chose my words with care…
“I came here to promote love. I came all the way from California to introduce myself so you could see with your own eyes what a gay Christian looks like. I left my young son to do this. I wish to be recognized as a sister in Christ. I have been a Christian all my life.”
With that I was given my warning to leave campus lest I be charged with criminal tresspassing. As I backed away from the group of 20 or so students, I calmly remarked, “Your school has decided to silence us today.” They stared blankly as I walked away and shifted my attention to my friends who were now on their knees being placed under arrest. I stood on the sidelines and sang what has become somewhat of an anthem here on the Equality Ride…”go now in peace, go now in peace, may the love of God surround you, everywhere, everywhere you may go”. We sang to our friends as they drove away in custody. I returned to the vigil line until I saw what I had been praying would occur.
One Equality Rider (my fellow Californian) stood surrounded by 30 or more students conversing. I went and stood next to him, and we discretely held hands. The students were asking all kinds of heated questions regarding sexual identity. I chimed in, “Let’s talk about Christianity; we are really here to sow love.” Thus began hours of dialogue and connection as more Riders joined us and broke off into smaller groups with students. For a moment, I stepped away from it all to observe and soak in every detail. It was happening. Progress was being made. Disagreement or laughter, it did not matter to me at that point. The over arching epiphany was that THIS CONVERSATION WAS HAPPENING. That was the desire of our hearts. God bless each one of you who has courage to make change in this world. God bless each one who has a heart capable of loving ALL of God’s creation.