As I Step Out I Beg You: Leave The Door Open
I wrote my home church off more than 20 years ago, in part, because of it’s stance on homosexuality. I surprised myself recently when I followed a theme of several years to its conclusion. My theme? Carry Me Home.
Let me back up and allow that I understand that there is not one person accessing this forum who does not come on line without a world of pain. If you are gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender, and G-D bless your brave souls, I can only imagine your painf from the view of a straight woman who has seen and heard gay basing all my life, first as a kid and then as an adult in church, in school, on television and in the movies. Those of us who access this site who are heterosexual do so for various reasons. Some of us feel a call to hold your hand and walk side by side as we move into a new century. Some of us have children who are gay or friends, siblings, etc., and we want to make this world a safer and healthier place for them to grow and love and marry and have children in. Some of us just want to know you, we intuitively understand that your community is blessed by G-D, is setting a course for change, and we want to be part of that.
This community needs to be raising their own kids and the many who need homes without fear; I have known that for more years than I care to admit, considering it is only now that I am making a way in my life to be part of that movement.
We all know where hate perpetuated by ignorance can lead. Matthew Shepard, may his name be blessed forever, was once a student with his whole life stretched out before him. College, a career, love, maybe kids, social activism, friends; all his stolen dreams because the seeds of hate that each generation nurtured to growth, all the stolen dreams of every individual whose life has been altered or destroyed by homophobic hate, must be vindicated by change.
And so I pray, Amen.
How many people have been beaten or maimed or lost their lives just in the first years of this new millennium because they are gay? How many kids and adults have endured the pain of being isolated from their peers because of their sexuality?
How many gay folks have been terrorized under the banner of G-D?
Soulforce…you are a light on hill. I read your threads; so many of you know this intuitively, know that the gay community has the potential to be great teachers that transcend the boundaries of one issue.
This is a site that has come together honoring diversity and discussion and the sharing of religious traditions with all the blessings and sorrows that implies. This site ties in a holy knot many of my own concerns but at a level I find I am not able to climb.
There are so many wise people sharing their lives and their intellects, bouncing ideas and concerns back and forth. Most of what I do is read and know how little it is I know. There is nothing wrong with knowing so little; it makes each day a study of something new.
But on to my theme of a home. I have been writing poetry and fictional sketches my whole life but it was not until the last several years corresponding to several other major changes in my life that I began writing seriously. As a writer I have noticed that the themes I began life with have not really changed; I am still trying to tell the same stories and my themes have not shifted, only grown from where they started. An American writer by the name of Flannery O’Connor wrote and vocalized her belief that the theme is in you; I know this to be true. I believe a writer, an artist, a social activist, has a call that they are blessed to be born with, in spite of the gauntlet of pain they may have to walk as they move towards the fullness of it.
I have walked myself in a circle and back to my own self and after more than 2 years of following a path of healing I know where I am going.
Will I ever make it there? I don’t know; not knowing breaks my heart when I allow myself to think about it.
More than 20 years ago I sat in an auditorium at Evangel College and pulled my heart into my soul where it rooted with the seeds of my call. The speaker that night was Chiam Potock, a novelist, a writer of non-fiction, a rabbi and wise man whose life blessed readers and movie goers with a richer understanding of a slice of American Judaism. Not long after this I separated from the Assembly Of God Church because some of what I was hearing on Sunday and over coffee conflicted with my conscious. I know I may offend some of you but I grew to almost despise Jesus because of all the war and pain and hate in the world. I came back to G-D through the study of physical science. I found G-D in the stars, in evolution, in the theory of relativity. I had reservations about Jesus. In my 30’s as I was attempting to forge a new life I considered joining Second Presbyterian Church where my kids had gone to from mothers-day-out through two years of pre-kindergarten. It was an amazing center of activity. A man having dinner at my house with his wife once told me a story about how a gay men’s choir sang for them, a choir that did not sing in church because…because we all know why because…and as he told this story tears came to his eyes as he described the response of the audience that was made up of young to old.
This church had done a lot for the gay community, involving the youth group. It was part of why I almost joined it.
But something bad happened to me that made me remember my heart.
How all of our wars come home to us.
I could not join the Presbyterian Church. I told the minister, a good minister by the way who took Friday Shabbat dinner with a neighboring family, a very warm man here with his family from Scotland, that I could not sign a paper declaring that Jesus was the path to G-D. I began trying to live Jewishly and took my dream of conversion to the end of the century when I let another war victim into my life, a man from Afghanistan.
Judaism softened my feelings toward Jesus, this Jewish man who loved his own people and was a Jew to his death.
Themes from youth…sitting in church watching a Jewish man sing hymns wearing his yarmulke. Why is he here, I wondered, why is he not honoring his own tradition, the one given him by G-D? Yet he was, he was not forgetting his history; he wore the sign of his people. But I did not understand this, I was young, I had not picked up my heart, I had not walked up ten plus years and into class with a Professor Joseph Schult, the head of Judaic Studies at my University, and been given sections of my own puzzle to hold onto for almost ten years more before I could piece it.
As I sit and compose this over-long post, Shabbat of this week in November in my Midwestern city a memory in the dark of the night, I look at my candle placed out of tradition, a single light at the top of a menorah my girl painted for me back before I had joined myself to the third brother of a tradition that began with a light.
I can never again call myself a Christian and yet, as a mystic who picked my call up off the floor where my mouth and my face left a stain of wet, I have come to know that what my wise professor said in class was true; as applied to myself I understand I was born into a tradition for a reason and while Judaism calls my heart and soul, Christianity is my tether to G-D.
I want to go home. I want to go home to Sheffield Assembly of God Church and sing in the choir and know what they are doing at night during the week to reach into their community.
But I can’t go without wailing my pain.
If you have read to the end of this post, thanks. I will let you know what happens, even if it takes me a few more years. Until then, continue to grow as you are. Amen.
Myra are you jewish? Then why change your religion? I'm just curious.
This is one of the most beautiful messages I have ever read.
Blessings on your walk. You are already home; home is inside you. Blessings on the outward journey. :dove:
Iowan, you are a blessing. I'm sure you are a light to many.
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