Posts Tagged ‘Truth



22
Nov
10

cost of truth telling

Roberta Showalter Kreider has published compilations of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender faith stories in three editions, From Wounded Hearts, Together in Love and The Cost of Truth. I read the first two during my personal encounter with church exclusion in 2008/09. I ordered the third but couldn’t manage to read it without succumbing to memories of my own painful experience, still searingly fresh into the winter of 2009/10. When a friend expressed interest in learning more about LGBT people, I gladly sent all three off with her. She simply didn’t know much and that is not uncommon. Whew! Out of sight, out of mind…or so I thought.

Then, one evening a few weeks ago, dear friends came to dinner. They are the only friends who spoke up as boldly as we did at the church that didn’t want us. We all left that church tattered and torn—the cost of speaking one’s truth—and we’d not seen each other in many months, so there was a lot to share. During the conversation one friend mentioned that she had just finished reading The Cost of Truth, and urged me to read it. Having completely forgotten the title of the book, I said I would. Before I knew it there it was in my mail box and still I didn’t recognize it until I opened the cover and saw that this was the third in the Kreider series—the set I’d given away. I was ready to read it now and have done so. I know some of the people in this book. I may not have known them three years ago when I first ordered the it, but through time and travail, I do now. These are stories of Mennonite and Brethren, LGBT people, whose dignity and leadership gifts were not honored by their denominations. One story in particular spoke to me. The writer shared his story and then his lingering sadness in a poem that resonates for me as well:

LGBT inclusion just may be the last strong-hold of the patriarchal church. The Mennonite denomination—traditionally dedicated to peace and non-violence—has yet to understand the violence to heart and soul that punishment and exclusion produces. Such treatment of brothers and sisters in Christ stands in opposition to the core values of the Anabaptist/Mennonite faith. I have written about this many times and will likely not stop any time soon. If you are interested in this issue and have little experience with LGBT people, try one of these books.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves….
-Rainer Maria Rilke

For now we see in a mirror, dimly but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. -I Corinthians 14:12

09
Aug
10

another word to ponder

Today I am turning over the word, betray. What does it mean to betray? The word is colorful and has variant usages. I’m partial to this set of definitions from Free Dictionary.com:

be·tray  [bih-trey]

–verb (used with object)

1. to deliver or expose to an enemy by treachery or disloyalty: Benedict Arnold betrayed his country.

2. to be unfaithful in guarding, maintaining, or fulfilling: to betray a trust

3. to disappoint the hopes or expectations of; be disloyal to: to betray one’s friends.

4. to reveal or disclose in violation of confidence: to betray a secret.  (synonyms: bare, expose,  tell, divulge / antonyms: hide, conceal)

5. to reveal unconsciously (something one would preferably conceal): Her nervousness betrays her insecurity.

6. to show or exhibit; reveal; disclose: an unfeeling remark that betrays his lack of concern. (synonyms: display,  manifest, expose, uncover / antonyms: hide, conceal)

7. to deceive, misguide, or corrupt: a young lawyer betrayed by political ambitions into irreparable folly.

8. to seduce and desert.

I think we all have committed at least one of the states of betrayal on this list at one time or another. I do not like to think of myself as having done so, but the truth is that I have, sometimes purposefully, sometimes unwittingly, as in not allowing conscious recognition of my purpose. I am far from good…as Jesus said in Luke 18:19 “Why do you call me good?…No one is good except God alone.”

Except for the Benedict Arnold type of action in usage #1, betrayal is a slippery thing that hides out in the outer reaches of our human selves. It is beguiling and seductive. Betraying ourselves as in usage #5 is a private matter—of lesser impact than usage #2 or #7—these generally having some personal gain attached to them. We all do this. Some one shares a bit of information with the caveat not to tell anyone. Sometimes that person really expects confidence, sometimes not. In any case, many of us find ways to pass the information on. I find it morally useful to ask if I may tell my partner. I do not like the tension involved in having to keep a solitary confidence and am grateful if told I may share with my partner. For this reason, I rarely ask a confidante to keep information completely hidden from a partner. I pretty much expect it will be shared, so giving permission keeps me in charge of at least a small part of what can become a daisy chain of information and mis-information.

In my lifetime (7 decades) I have experienced several life-changing, egregious, betrayals of trust. Each one has left its mark in the cells of my body, despite the forgiveness I’ve tried to practice. The most recent betrayal caused an enormous amount of damage to me, my family and friends. I dare not think of it, for when I do,  my breath becomes labored and my heart sinks in my chest. By God’s grace we forgive, but the cells of the body remember. The heart grieves to hear the spoken apology that is a balm for healing and reconciliation. Not my will, but yours Lord (Luke 22:42). These words sometimes stick in my throat. I am not good. Only God is good. I can only do as I am able…by Grace.

09
Jun
10

immigration prayer

Recently an Open Letter written by MennoNeighbors to my denomination—Mennonite Church USA—urging the leadership to stand fast in opposition to Arizona’s proposed immigration law, came along for signing. The letter asks the Church to rescind our agreement to hold the 2013 Conference there, as we have many latino/latina members who will not be welcome or safe should this bill become law. This is not the only raison d’etre for this stand, but it is a good and timely one. We are aware that many states are watching to see if they might do the same.

As usual there were a lot of opinions floating on the listserve about how it should be written/worded, but eventually it got done. On the day of its last signing an email circulated with this prayer. It seems that First Mennonite of Denver piloted a group prayer project on various themes led by Randy Macy, who plans to add music and record them, then send CDs to politicians in Washington and beyond. This particular prayer was written and submitted by Theda Good and Dawn Kreider.

Prayer for National Security and Immigration

God, Creator of all peoples on earth

We in the United States are a gathered people
With ancestral roots in many lands
Whose descendants navigated terrain and sea
To reach this land we have come to call home.

Many sought new fortunes
Or an escape from oppression
But this land was already inhabited
And in searching for a new home
Our ancestors too became oppressors
Violating the freedoms of those here before them.

Forgive the past acts of violence
Towards natives who already had
What our antecessors were searching for
Forgive our arrogance for believing
That manifest destiny made this land ours
And our unwillingness to now share this land

Millions now migrate to this land
Seeking the same opportunities sought by our ancestors
Many have borne children
Who are United States citizens
Alien parent and citizen child
Both created in your image
All of us equal in your eyes

Give us the ability to see
The aliens in our midst the way you see them
Grant us the wisdom to fairly address their complex issues of
Citizenship, health care, education, and social welfare
Help us resist the temptation to legislate them further from their dreams
Instead let us offer them the decency and compassion
Each of your children deserves

Forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves
Give us wise, just and humble leaders
And give all who live in this land
A will to live in peace with one another
On 9/11 the security of our homeland was threatened by attack.
Our leaders then declared war on an abstract enemy
and old testament justice prevailed
an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth
turning the other cheek was never an option
Instead we used violence to ensure peace and security
We could have chosen life instead of more death, to listen to our enemies,
to try to understand their desire to destroy our empires

God, help us identify what loving our enemies on a national scale entails
and to recognize our part in fomenting hatred and violence in our world.
As we cannot claim to be innocent;
forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Help us O God to see that all peoples of the world truly need each other —
Give us wise, just and humble leaders
And give all who live in this land a will to live in peace with all peoples on earth.

God of mercy, hold us in love!

Theda Good and Dawn Kreider

11/18/2009

08
Jun
10

oil and the big picture

Today I was going to write about my new grandchildren and then about Arizona immigration 101, but in attempting one more time to cull through my over-stuffed email in-boxes, I came upon an email from my sister that I had set aside last week. The subject line reads: Visualizing the BP Oil Disaster. When I first received her email on June 5, I looked at the link and was properly amazed. But I was so thoroughly caught up in my episodic grief and mourning that I didn’t go beyond. Today I went beyond and I am going to share this horrific piece of human carelessness.

This is a picture of the size of the disaster as of today, June 8, 2010. Big, isn’t it? Think of all the animals and plant life that will perish because of our greedy life styles…our captains of business who cannot manage to live on less than 7 figures per year. My world…your world…our world is so messed up. I think of Jesus’ ministry here on earth and what he had to say about kingdoms and power. He came to reform a power system not of God’s design. Nothing seems all that different, just worse. We still have Caesar thinking he is king of the world. Quite a few of them, actually. King(s) of the world. I wonder sometimes how long we can keep this world—this planet going with so little nurturing love of it.

See the big picture at Visualizing the BP Oil Spill Disaster Scroll down and read the text. Be sure to see number 5, Is the oil really hurting anything?

I am sick at heart. I don’t understand how God can still love us. Maybe it’s time for another flood?

Grace is completely undeserved.

04
Dec
09

plowing through obstacle paths

Today, I am blown about like a dry leaf by the hospital system that hosts the cancer clinic where I am a patient. I like my oncologist, Dr. G very much. He is kind and compassionate, and a specialist in the varieties of lymphoma, a blood cancer with some 30+ varieties. I like his immediate staff. But there is one person, Ms. X, who does not like me and she has today caused a confusion that has my household, Dr. G’s staff and the Nuclear Medicine department in an unnecessary flurry of activity to straighten things out. I don’t know why this person takes a dislike to me, but I am told I am not the only patient on her dis-list. Disconcerting…even more so if I were really sick now, as I was 3 years ago, when everyone’s compassion was a cup of cool water for me.

Why Ms. X continues to hold her job is a mystery to me, but Ms. L from Nuclear Medicine has taken on the case and saved the day. Yeah for the stalwart ones! Thank you Ms. L. I didn’t want to have to postpone this scan and go through the anticipation all over again. Blessings on your day Ms. L.

This brings me to considerations of Kingdom vs. kingdoms. Nothing like this would happen if egos didn’t run the world…yes, even in the church!  So I’ll share with you my Advent reading this morning. It comes from a little book by Richard Rohr called, Preparing for Christmas—Daily meditation for Advent. Today’s reading is based on  Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31

And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction. Isa.29:24

Easy to see where my alliance for proper health care in this country lies: let’s put the CARE back in Health care! Some younger folk might be surprised to know that there was a time when hospitals were not completely bottom-line-profit oriented, when insurance and pharmaceutical companies were not bed-fellows, and when doctors actually came to a sick person’s home and got to know the family and the circumstances. Not every new thing that comes out of the can  is progress.

28
Oct
09

and the winner is…

Hello everybody,

The Bennie Award-72 I am pleased to announce that the Blog Comment Award has been won by non other than…Mr. Ordinary Mostly… for bravely going where no man or woman has gone before. He has written a candid and insightful, comment to my post, “Please leave a comment” (September 25, 2009). What a guy!! OM gets the Brave and Handsome Bennie Award for… yes… you guessed it: bravery in leaving a comment!!

So, anyone else out there want to try for the Baby Kitty Bella Award or the Grumpy Old Frank Award? (Neither baby talk nor grumpiness need be a prerequisite for winning.)  Yours truly, Called by Name

05
Aug
09

green shoots

I have several dear friends. This was not always the case. I have become lucky in this way and I intend to hang on to them. One particular friend has gone through the whole same-gender-covenanted-couple-seeking-membership debacle of 2008/09 with me in a very deliberate way. We talked every day and walked together, whether here or there. Our friendship had always been centered around a sense of spirituality that we carried in common. We had many dreams and plans for doing things at the church we both attended. After the roof fell in there on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, and the dust settled (as slowly and alarmingly as it did after the World Trade Center collapsed), we tried to pick up and dust off whatever pieces remained. We hope to still be able to work together even though we are now at very different congregations, very different settings, and in very different places.

My compassionate friend is working on reconciliation in her congregation and I am working on starting over in my new congregation. I don’t know if reconciliation can happen without truth-telling and transparency. I had not seen very much of that when I worshiped there, but my friend cannot help but try. I will help, I will hope, and I will pray, but I don’t see the rainbow. That’s why I have left and gone on, quite tearfully, to a congregation where I do not have to walk Job’s road anymore. I did that for a long time in the congregation where my friend remains. I did that because I felt that God had assigned me the task of being front and center for this issue. Sometime in the week between May 31 and June 7, I distinctly felt released from that assignment, but it wasn’t an easy road to walk. There were so many people I’d come to love in one way or the other, and didn’t want to leave. The sense of loss for this and my visual art ministry to the people, was a constant companion in my heart and soul. Depression and tears took over my days, most especially at night when I was alone with God.

My friend talks about green shoots. I talk about phoenix rising from the ashes because fire is how it felt—burning to nothingness. It’s been two months since that decisive last  day in May. I shed many tears for the enormous losses I was experiencing. And I was angry—angry with the specific persons who failed to lead the congregational majority in the direction it wanted to go. My partner, Big Dawg and I were charred in the fire that burned in the church that day, and the following days. But we were not the only ones damaged. Everyone, except for those whose wishes remained intact was affected—collateral damage. The congregation is wandering in the desert, desperate for leadership. I don’t know where it will come from. So much damage all around. Green shoots. How does that happen without water and rain, sunshine, humility and truth?Green Shoots

I have been blessed. I am free to walk on…to follow on in the Way without hindrance. I am grateful. And I am no longer angry at anyone. The last bit of anger I had was finally toward God many days ago and, I gave that up too. No point in it, I realized because I can’t really hear God calling my name when my head is filled with the noise of hurt and anger. So now, my friend and I will pick up whatever pieces still glisten in the sun and we will see if between us, we can encourage green shoots in the corner where we are.




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