One thing I love about bees is their communal nature. I never cease to be amazed at their ability to work together to make perfect little structures to hold the honey, collect the pollen to make the honey, and to defend the hive and queen.
I have been thinking about community a lot this week. It really started last Sunday when D and I went to our friends’ A & C’s wedding. I thought about it as we sat at a table with old friends and the new friends we made as we carried on conversation about intentional communal living, organic gardening, and berry picking. It would not escape my thoughts as all of us there were asked if we would love and support A & C in their lives together. My heart was full of joy and love as D & I took bread and wine from A & C, serving communion to all of us as their first act together as a married couple.
Celebrating life with friends, finding that I am now crying at weddings – because of the beauty and the love and the joy, sharing meals and wine with dear ones, and planning visits and sharing plants – it seems that my focus on how we do life together has been constant.
I remember a time when I felt alone, as a closeted lesbian at a Christian liberal arts university in the South. I remember wanting, so badly to know and be known. Sometimes I have to fight the urge to pinch myself – that this is my reality now. That I am known and loved, and that D & I are known and loved. That we are included in celebrations, welcome at the table, and celebrated among friends. That we are embraced by our church, by many of our family, and that we have found that true family goes beyond the bloodlines and into the lines of love, support, and devotion among friends who become family.
Our marriage helps us build each other up, support one another, and stay committed to one another – but it also does more. Marriage is also a commitment to our communities, to love and support them, to build a better community – and to let our love pour over and into others.
Yesterday, the news came that Exodus International was ending their role in the ex-gay movement. I read several articles and watched videos and admittedly cried when I read Alan Chambers’ apology, even though parts of it weren’t where I wish they would be. As I entered into a discussion on a writer’s site, I realized there was so much anger and hurt on all sides, and that the anger and hurt were rooted in a similar place:
I know that feeling all too well. I know what it is like to feel that only part of me is welcome, or that none of me is welcome. I know the fear I feel when I listen to people who have beliefs that say that my love is something other than love and that it is something other than holy.
I also know what it is like to have someone who is unsure or who still holds those beliefs, but still manages (somehow) to make me feel loved and welcome, even if it is not to the degree of love and welcome I feel when I am fully embraced and celebrated as others, who are not LGBT, are.
I am hopeful that this is a turning point for the evangelical church, and that new communities of love and devotion are formed – and it will take much work, from each person from all walks of life to build such a community and to sustain it and to help it continue to grow.
It took the bravery of listening to one another for this point to be reached. It took honesty and communication and love – real love.
I keep thinking about all the good that could be done, and all the good I want to do and that D & I want to do with the resources we have and the land we live on. How we want to do good for our future children and our communities. How much good we want to do for each other.
I come to the realization, often, that we will need friends (family) to help us along the way – and I think about what Mother Teresa said, that we do small things with great love, and what Robert Kennedy said, about how our individual acts send out tiny ripples of hope, and that they come together – sweeping down the mightiest walls of oppression.
Today, I am filled with hope. Hope that the world is, indeed, changing. Hope that it can change some more.
I am filled with love – love for Christ and his Kingdom, love for D, love for our family and friends and our church, love for the outcast, the immigrant, the widow, and the orphan. Love for Alan Chambers. Love for the brave LGBT people who went before us and got us to this point so far. Love for God’s Spirit and the work God is doing. Love for the people who haven’t “gotten there” and still hold on to ignorance and hatred. Love for people somewhere in between, who wrestle with what to do next.
I am filled with peace and faith and devotion. To rest. To believe. To stay committed. To live in community.
I truly believe that it is in that spirit of beloved community that Harriet Tubman’s words ring true:
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”