Posts Tagged ‘Belonging



04
Nov
09

New bird on the wire.

Have you ever noticed how birds flock to power lines and sit close together like little teapots waiting to be poured? I don’t know the ornithological reason why they do this, but as a human, I find it a delightful spectacle…a performance of sorts, just for me. I have imagined many reasons and usually fall back on the visual fact of so many birds content to share their space. No one is squawking about too much or too little, too loud, or too quiet. No, they are all sharing the wire and evidently getting something good from doing so. I am limited and do not understand. I am bound to personify the spectacle…all these birds are getting along—they are birds of a feather flocking together—members of the same club. No one is excluded. I see this and  wish we humans could enjoy that harmony.

God’s children were meant to have harmony, but do not know how to get there without letting go of ego interests. “How can I be myself if I let go of myself?” This is a question most anyone could easily ask.  It ‘s a topic for another blog. This time I just want to talk about the wire and the birds.

When a new bird comes to sit, the others don’t scare it away. If there’s room, the new bird finds a spot and joins the plump row of sitting birds. I love that—love to see it and wish I could have that same experience. At this point in time, I am a new bird on a new wire, but either the other birds are invisible to me, I am invisible to them, or I have cataracts and am not seeing beyond the pain that sent me to this wire in the first place. I am a new bird on a new church wire, not out of intention, but because the former church wire snapped in two and all flew flapping and squawking and circling about. Some of those birds thought I was too heavy for the wire. There is truth to that, but the greater reason for the wire breaking is something beyond:  some of them didn’t see the wind whipping up behind them because they had fluffed up way too much.

Took me a while to get to know those birds, to love and live with them on the wire. Now I have to start all over again and it seems harder than the last time. I don’t knowBird on wire why these new birds don’t see how hard it is to be a newbie. They are all good birds, but for some reason they don’t show themselves, don’t let their feathers touch mine. I am the new bird on the wire and I wish it weren’t so lonely. Last year this time, I was sitting happily on the old wire. My sister was dying and I was able to touch her feathers in a special way, because mine were touched. I am a bird on a wire, waiting for the silence to stop…waiting for the memory of loss to fade.

30
Sep
09

let’s be creative for a change

I am a member of an online listserv whose purpose is promoting open dialog on various aspects of LGBTQ inclusion in the Mennonite Church (MC USA).  This subject has been kicked around for the past 30 years in this denomination—one that is not given to hasty decisions, obviously! Much of the time the members of this broad based group contribute erudite views—all very worthy and many quite thought provoking. But sometimes I get tired of the effort, because inclusion is a no-brainer for Christ followers.

For the past numbers of days the subject of focus has been homosexual desire vs. homosexual practice. The other day, in the midst of a flurry of intellectual postings, one of the members—Natalya Lowther—posted a view that totally took me by delightful surprise. She set forth a slightly unorthodox view, but reasonable nonetheless, with insight, clarity and creativity, and has graciously granted me permission to re-publish here on Called By Name. More from this author (including her profile and raison d’etre) can be found on her own blog:  http://www.pinwheelfarm.blogspot.com

Having been raised by a physics professor, when I hear the word “orientation” I think of magnetized particles orienting themselves  towards magnetic north.

Magnets are attracted to one another because of this shared alignment.

Magnets are attracted to iron because it has a potential for shared  alignment.

But whether magnets are “mating” with other magnets or with iron, they are always “practicing” their orientation. The physical force of the attraction is weaker the further they are from what they are attracted to…but it’s inherently there and functioning at all times.

People are attracted to God, and to other people, when there is a shared alignment. Mentally, intellectually, physically, emotionally.

Unlike magnets, our various alignments can be at odds with each  other…we may think that because we are aligned physically with  people of the same sex, we must be misaligned with God. But I do  not find that to be so. We can also use some senses to restrict the  alignments of other senses–the mind putting the flesh into subjection, artificially, by force. But then we are at war with  ourselves, creating chaotic conditions. Such a condition is not  sustainable, not healthy. Put the “south” poles of two magnets  together, and incredible force is needed to keep them in proximity.

In my life, I seek the natural alignment, the harmony, the sympathy  among all parts. If my life, my soul, my spirit, is given freedom  to fully express its natural orientation towards God, then the  other orientations that appear “not of God” will naturally tend  towards a natural alignment that does not conflict with that  primary orientation, even though it may not fit some artificially  imposed “norm.”

Just reflections, not clearly followed through but a beginning sketch.

Blessings,

Natalya Lowther, Lawrence, KS

Sacred Bird of the North

10
Sep
09

reconciliation road home

My partner, Big Dawg and I experienced the pain and agony of being the center of our (former) church’s effort to accept us as a same gender, covenanted couple into membership. In parallel time, a frightened minority formed to block this effort, and in the end we were rejected.  It was a rocky, and finally brutalizing, experience that had required mature/experienced leadership. It was earnest, but not mature or experienced. And it too, became fearful as the months wore on.

We are now in a different congregation and conference—very Open and very Welcoming. Despite our growing affinity for this little church that could,  the pain of our past trials have not disappeared from memory. Repeated rejection is not an easy pill to swallow for most people. For those on the margins rather than in the mainstream, it is a familiar experience. By the time one reaches a certain age, those rejections have piled up, although not normally visible in the forefront of  daily life. This past year was different for us: forefront was the order of the day. I, for one, cried through most of the winter and spring of 2009. Having lost my sister from a cancer similar to mine did not help matters. Not a very auspicious beginning to my 3rd year of cancer remission.

Fifty weeks ago we moved house and home to be close to this church body we loved, and with whom we expected to live in covenant into older, old age. Two nights ago, BD (my partner), AD (adopted daughter) and I participated in an exit meeting with two conference level  pastors  of our denomination. They were not directly part of the devastating events at our former church, and we barely knew them. The meeting had not been at our initiation, but turned out to be the beginning of what we hope will be eventual healing for us and those loveed ones we left behind.

The word reconciliation took center stage that evening and I became aware that the word itself has many meanings. My understanding had been along the lines of the restoration of harmony—as in agreement, cordiality,  friendliness, friendship, harmonization, reconcilement, reunion, softening ( i.e.,  “kiss and make up”).  But the concept proffered was more about agreement, concurrence and balance. In fact the illustration used to explain this use of the word was balancing one’s checkbook! There were five of us gathered in this meeting. All but I found the checkbook analogy quite serviceable. It was too mechanical for where I was. So the next day I researched the term reconciliation, and found many nuanced uses. Of course, the most obvious use is in the current field of conflict resolution. I hadn’t even thought of that. I was drowning in painful memories of having been dragged along the rocky path of LGBT inclusion/exclusion prevalent in all the denominations to one degree or another. I was unprepared.

During this meeting it became clear that the public apology that I yearned to hear from the apex of that church’s leadership for having invited us to membership, could not come without (leadership’s) acceptance of culpability/accountability. There are many ways in which any of us can be blind to our own shadows, but this blindness was truly hurting so many of us. One of the pastors present in this impromptu meeting spoke eloquently of her own experience of abuse and pain in the church. Although the memory remained,  accepting an apology from someone significantly standing in the perpetrator’s stead gave her much emotional/spiritual freedom. She asked if we could accept such an apology from her in this same way…for the whole denomination as well as for the culpable leadership person. This was a challenging add-on (for me) to the new understanding of reconciliation, still reverberating in my heart’s brain. I knew the theological wholeness of it…that it would bring freedom, but I wasn’t ready to commit. I slept very little and woke with acute sleep deprivation. The day was a visceral faith walk and I wanted to throw up from time to time (I didn’t). I thought a lot about reconciliation and came upon this passage from the New Testament book of John. In terms of my personal faith and formation, it  seemed to be a doorway, a threshold:

Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.  The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”  Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them? John 20:19-23 (The Message)

Indeed…what am I going to do with another’s transgression if I don’t let go of it? It will keep me captive and closer to that person than I wish to be. More importantly, it will block my way home to peace and loving new relationships. I am not a young woman with my life ahead of me. In addition I have asked many times to be strengthened in faith.  So now I embark on another difficult journey knowing that difficult climbing brings spiritual transformation, which in turn, more and more fully allows the light of Christ to flow through us. And that is my desire.

For when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13: 11-13

Recently a friend shared this prayer for difficult times with me:  “I seem unable to find grace in my heart….. Lord, please be the forgiveness in me so that I may be healed and in healing find compassion…” That is the walking stick for the journey one needs at these times. It is the one I will use. In the end I want to know as fully as my sister did in her dying days: God is beneath me, in front of me, behind me, within me.                        (Prayer of St. Patrick)

It is the, within me, that I work on.    Poppy .5x.536-72


25
Aug
09

who is in and who is out: membership

I subscribe to Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation emails. Today’s message, Is group affiliation more important than personal transformation? struck a chord for me since my denomination is currently twisting and turning on the subject of membership inclusion or exclusion of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender individuals and couples. My partner and I have personally and painfully met this divisive issue during 2008/09 when we were invited to membership, then uninvited after a raging storm capsized our boat and we found ourselves paddling to shore with a few broken bones.

Now in the aftermath, I stop and turn the words group affiliation over in my minds a few times. We humans are pack animals. We want to belong…I believe God desires this for us. I believe Jesus gathered in the lost and lonely, but the church continues to stumble over who to include and who to exclude. I offer this quote from today’s meditation—better stated than I ever could:

Membership questions become an endless argument about who is in and who is out, who is right and who is wrong? Who is worthy of our God and who is not? This appeals very much to our ego, and its need to feel worthy, to feel superior, to be a part of a group that defines itself by exclusion. The Country Club instinct, you might say. That is most of religious history. The group’s rightness or superiority becomes a convenient substitute for knowing anything to be true for oneself. Where did Jesus recommend this pattern? It has left Christian countries not appreciably different than other countries, in fact, sometimes worse. The two World Wars emerged within and between Christian countries. We can do so much better.*

*Richard Rohr – Daily Meditation: Is group affiliation more important than personal transformation? Aug 25, 2009





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