In what some consider heretical musings, dangerous thinking, playing with fire on slippery slopes, asking for censure,
I find space for questions unwelcome within either/or constructs of other people’s god.
I find insights previously obscured by certainty that stifled doubts along with creativity.
I find explorations and longings formerly restricted to a certain collection of words.
I find companions willing to clasp hands, jump, free fall, enjoy the vastness, the beauty, the tenderness, the wild wilderness that beckons within, that knows without seeing, that new life is what we’ll find.
“The Word became flesh and lived among us” always compelled me to stay or return, whenever I wondered if my religion was still my home. God with us, among us, example for us, living wisdom and healing and love for all.
Unsure if it’s cumulative, years spent watching abuse excused, hatred glorified, blatant disregard, or the breaking straw of a man using Christian teaching to justify taking women’s lives. Either way, I’m overwhelmed with wondering why I stay, if I’ll stay, or if I’ll leave once and for all.
Wondering, if many my religion elevates to power, puts in charge, promotes, allows to represent, are nothing like God-with-us, how I will reconcile these contradictions, and if I can at all.
Wondering why “acceptable” white women stay, why we do this dance where we allow ourselves treated as less than men, and more egregiously, trade sisterhood for proximity to power, allowing non-white women or not-assigned-female-at-birth women or women who would marry women to be treated like they are barely human at all.
Wondering if by staying I am assenting to, participating in this harm. Even when I qualify with “not like that” or “not that kind,” it seems impossible there is not guilt, not responsibility I must bear for association with it all.
Wondering if I’m always on the outside, trying to make exceptions, taking issue with everything from the conduct to the canon to the creeds, at what point am I by-default excluded, already not a part, clinging to false hope of redemption for it all.
Wondering how long I can live insisting “God is not a man,” questioning status quo, leaders, and traditions with my heart in my throat or on my sleeve and the nagging suspicion its never in the right place for the establishment at all.
Wondering where this goes and where I’ll end, if this is another dark night that transforms and returns me home or if it’s the abyss between God is not that religion and God is not at all.
Spirit of mercy, we often neglect to be merciful with ourselves and with each other. Our thoughts, words, and deeds fail to reflect loving kindness and we cause harm to our neighbors, our own lives, and the earth. We are grieved by this separation and set our intention toward healing, compassion, and right relationship with ourselves, our community, and the more-than-human world. Source of love and goodness, buoy us as we reorient to you, that we may be restored and bring restoration, be joyful and bring joy, and walk in the ways of truth and reconciliation.
And may the knowledge that we are never separated from eternal love strengthen us, center us, and keep us connected to the source of life.
I’ve thought of you more often than usual these past few days, most recently in a conversation on race and sexuality where I shared ideas you taught me.
Later, I walked in the woods feeling grateful to you for your generous wisdom. Sad I couldn’t remember the day, I looked it up. Four years ago this month
it was cold and I was sitting in the car outside a rundown gymnasium in a nearby town where one of my kids was practicing soccer.
First one, then another, there on social media, posts saying you were gone. It was sudden, unexpected.
Folks I only knew online, sharing about you, who I only knew online, all connected as participants in a weekly Twitter chat on queer theology
that taught me not to relinquish my faith to something smaller, not to surrender divinity to those who would diminish it,
not to abandon mystery to those who want to contain it, not to resign myself to traditions that no longer fit.
Your joy and big heart reaching me all the way from the west coast and soon we were sharing recipes and discussing our latest eco-friendly swaps.
I watched the way you interacted with people who didn’t have your understanding in a way that made them wish they did, a kind-hearted, fierce way that taught the rest of us so much.
From you I learned how easy it is to miss harmful isms and phobias that can pervade even seemingly good causes when I’m not their target. And to be always learning, always listening to those who are.
So often I’ve done my best to highlight something problematic in a way that honors your legacy, saying, “My friend Jane helped me understand…” Other times I find myself thinking, “Jane would love this.”
I wish I could send you reusable glass straws because they are far better than stainless. I wish I could meet you in person and that all the people who love you weren’t going into their fifth year without you.
I know I am both a better person for having connected with you and still have far to go in all the learning you helped inspire me to pursue. I miss your presence and your friendship, Jane. And I thank you for your light.
Note: I took the photo above right before I found out about Jane’s passing, and posted it the next day with the following caption: “Sunset last night while I was waiting at soccer, right before I found out my beautiful friend Jane passed away that afternoon. I never had the chance to meet her in person, but she was a wise and loving soul who I admired and learned so much from. I will miss her insight and compassion, and remember her for her fierce devotion to the friends and family she held dear, her passionate care for LGBTQ youth and others from marginalized communities, and her appreciation for the art of cooking. May the many mourning her passing be comforted by the love and light she shared with all of us.“