This morning's reading from Isaiah was a balm for my soul:
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn...
As noted here, two sets of friends experienced painful losses of loved ones this past week. My gut desire has been to be with both of them, and care for them. Give them a hug, listen to their grief; laugh, cry, roar at the world. I can only do that by email and text message with one because distance separates us. She and her family are in Texas. And the funeral for Edna has been scheduled for the same day as the funeral for Ren, the son of my other friends who are here in Tallahassee. I had been asked to participate in Ren's service which I agreed to immediately. And my heart broke to know that I could not be in two places on the same day.
Oh, Star Trek: why have we not developed the transporter?
There are many of us in Tallahassee who wished that we could be in Texas because we love our friend and we loved Edna. But if there is something I learned from the death of my father it is that the loss of a parent, a parent who showed that God-like quality of unconditional love, will rattle you to the core for some months to come. And so my commitment is to be there for my friend not at the time of the funeral, but in those moments of feeling lost at sea after the funeral and the flowers and the cards have faded.
In the present nearness of my friends who are now missing Ren, I am there, too. I can be there in body, as well as mind and spirit. And they need love and comforting as well. Lending a hand at the time of the funeral is part of that. Being fully present with them in their grief is the priceless gift of binding the wounds of the brokenhearted.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
In the past week, I also was afforded moments of joy. Watching the mingling and laughing and the sweetness that pervades a PFLAG meeting helped make the heaviness of the week a little lighter. And it, too, reminded me of this Isaiah passage. PFLAG brings the good news to the oppressed and frees the captives in the prisons of self-loathing, the victims of the sin of rejection of God's queer children, and a constant reminder that we are all loved even when the world sometimes doesn't love us back.
I have witnessed that lack of love. I have seen the faces of women who tell me the stories of how their parents have told them never to come home or bring "that lifestyle under my roof." There is resignation in their voices as they insist that nothing will move their parents' hearts. And when I think about young children and how they are so dependant on their parents and look at them as if they are the face of God, is it any wonder that a child rejected by a parent would then think this is God's own rejection of them?
For I the LORD love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
In some ways, I believe that by bearing faithful witness to a different face of God, the one that DOES love justice and DOES love all created things, is an essential mission for me in this life. People who have been hurt, burned by those who they thought would be with them through thick and thin, need to see that what the world is doing in their lives is not reflective of the love that God bestows on us. They need to hear, see, taste that God hasn't abandoned them or turned away. This happens through each of us who are commanded to love one another as we have been loved. We are the ones who were once captives in our own prisons who are now able to live as free people. Through us, God moves to work God's purpose out to continuously unlock the gates and bring the light to people who sit in darkness. Not with Bible-thumping and strident screams of "Repent!" on street corners. But by giving us the wisdom to be present in the pain of the world.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us....
May each of us who sense that power stirring allow the power to be our light in the world.