To Syria, With Love

To be clear, I am a pacifist. I do not believe in war.

I believe in peace, and I believe in justice.

I don’t know much about Syria. I couldn’t point it out on a map right now. I don’t know much about the cultures or traditions there, nor do I know much about the people. When I do a search, I see it is illegal to be in a same sex relationship there. But that is not what is on my mind.

I am being honest when I say to Syria, “I do not know you, just as you do not know me. But, I love you. I am thinking of you. My heart hurts for you.”

I do not believe in a military strike which will cause some kind of damage to innocents for sure – whether it be psychological damage, emotional trauma, physical injury, financial ruin, etc.

No matter how limited it is, someone will get hurt.

And so will we. And so will those who order and carry it out – even if they are unaware of the cost.

But this post is not about war or being anti-war.

This post is not about government or foreign policy or politics or LGBT rights around the world.

This post is about Syrians, the people – made in the very image of God. Worthy of respect and love, bearers of infinite worth.

Years ago, I watched a movie on Sundance. I don’t remember anything about it.

Except that it took place in Syria.

And I remember the meal they ate together and how they danced outside in a back yard with lights hung and how people from the town joined in the celebration and contributed music, singing, refreshments, and laughter.

I remember that I enjoyed it so much that I looked up “Syrian” on a recipe website. I saved the location for soup, hummus, and pita bread.

I got too busy. I never made the meal.

Today, I remembered that meal, and I talked it over with my wife.

We will share a Syrian meal together in the next few days.
We will light a candle, literally and figuratively,
and we will remember you Syria.
We will pray for you – all of you.

We will remember.

We will break bread with you.
We will eat soup alongside of you.
We will take of the earth and share in the hopes and fears.

We love you, Syria.

I wish so badly that the road to Damascus would give us a revelation again. One of love and peace. One of nonviolence.

We stand with you. You are our brothers and our sisters. You are loved.

Will you join us friends? In this act of solidarity and contemplative prayer?

These are the recipes we will be using:

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Syrian-Style-Lentil-and-Spinach-Soup/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=syrian&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe%20Search%20Results

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Authentic-Kicked-Up-Syrian-Hummus/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=syrian&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe%20Search%20Results

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Syrian-Bread/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=syrian&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe%20Search%20Results

Please light a candle, break bread, and join us in remembering.

With love,

C.

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That Rainbow

Forgive me for not writing sooner. Some weeks, it is difficult because of physical pain or because of a hectic schedule; sometimes I simply am wrapped up in the busyness and the goodness and forget to write on here. Last week, the post I wrote didn’t get published because it seemed more suited for the book I have been slowly working on writing and took a break from. I guess this means the break is over and I am resuming writing my spiritual memoir/call to action.

One thing that I have been thinking about a lot lately and wanting to share is related to a question I get from friends and from people who get referred to talk to me. I am often asked how I do reconcile my faith and my sexuality. I see friends and people I barely know alike struggle to accept themselves and struggle to find their place in the church and the place for faith in their life while longing for knowing love and wondering if it is “okay.”

Rewind a few years ago, and you will see the following scene:

I am standing in the kitchen with my friend Jessica at her apartment. We are making dinner together, probably rice and beans cooked in a Nicaraguan style. We are having one of our many deep conversations, and I am pouring out my heart telling her that I am getting to where I think is “okay” for me to be in a relationship with another woman, but that I am not fully there. Jessica, in her patient yet firm and loving way, let’s me know that that isn’t good enough. She tells me that she doesn’t want me to be in a relationship with anyone – female or male – unless I believe that it isn’t just ok, but that it is good.

This conversation really affected me, and it would be some time before I reached that point. Those reasons are too intensive and personal to communicate on a brief blog, and I am still unsure if I even want to discuss them in a book or not, mostly because I am no theology expert or even an amateur theologian – but I am a person and person with a story… Still thinking that one through. (Your thoughts on that are welcome as I am deciding whether to write on that or not.)

There is a passage where Jesus is talking about asking and believing and he asks a question that I had the hardest time believing for a while. He talks about the goodness of God and the gifts of God, and says something to the effect of “If you asked for a piece of bread, what kind of lunatic parent would give you a stone instead? Or if you asked for a fish, what horrible excuse for a provider would give you a snake? Isn’t God greater than that?”

I wasn’t so sure.

I just knew I had been handed a rock – but not just any rock – the gay rock.

The one with a big rainbow painted on it so that everyone would see and know. The one that didn’t seem to be good for anything except to draw unwanted attention and shame. The one that I tried to hide… but that rainbow. That damn rainbow.

I thought I had a snake too. I had to… right? The venomous kind, that injected a poison into me that made me want to do things that weren’t Godly. Things like loving someone… (??) But also venom that coursed in my veins, telling me I was worthless, unlovable, and that I would ultimately be abandoned and condemned. A snake that bit me often, reminding me of the pain and the loneliness and the hopelessness. The snake of shame.

Even once I began accepting myself and started believing that a relationship with a woman was a good which God intended for my life, I still couldn’t let go of this mindset, feeling that God would somehow still give me a rock or snake again, instead of something wonderful.

Now I am in a much different place, and it’s the place I hope all gay and lesbian people of faith will reach.

One of resting in goodness.

I know now, that I have been given a gift. My life as a lesbian growing up in the South, and growing up in the Church and attending a Christian college has given me great insight and empathy for others. I easily relate to people who are “different” or who feel oppressed for a variety of reasons. I have a knack for multiculturalism and an edge in understanding. (Even though all of that comes with the pain and anguish experienced when people are stubborn, non-affirming, or worse – hateful.)

More than that though, I am experiencing the beautiful gift and goodness of marriage. The theology of marriage and how it increases our love for God and neighbor has been captivating me. I am experiencing love in a new way each day with my amazing wife.

This is no rock.

It is bread.

Not just any bread – like the white sliced stuff that disappears off the shelves when snow is in the forecast.

This is homemade, kneaded sourdough – made with care and love and prepared with a loved one in mind. It’s the stuff dreams are made of for this gluten sensitive girl.

I have not been given a snake; rather it is a sweet tasting nourishing fish, caught then cleaned then cooked over a fire of trial and sanctification. Meant to revive and call the senses.

It is a trout.

Rainbow, of course.

That beautiful rainbow.

And I hope for all to see it, believe it, know it. And be thankful for it.

I know I sure am.

Love,

C.

A Public Service Announcement (Because I’m angry and this is my outlet.)

Due to comments I sometimes get (and refuse to interact with or publish – because that is not my intent for my writing) and emails and such, I am going to make an announcement.

Yes, I know what the Bible says.

No, I did not choose to be gay.

Yes, God has a plan for my life (Though as far as what “plan” means, we might have a theological disagreement). That plan is not a man or for me to be single.

That plan includes my wife and the covenant we made to God, to each other, to our community.

I have a close relationship with Jesus. Jesus is my savior, my lord, king, etc.

Though I can appreciate genuine concern, if you do not walk with me in true friendship, you do not know me. You have no place to speak in my life.

There is a vast amount of books, internet resources, churches, etc with information on how to reconcile being gay and being Christian – if really interested, to read and study on your own. That’s what I did for years – I read the Bible – yes, actually read it and studied it.

If I write about something, it is to address that topic, not to have people (especially people who don’t know me) to comment on my life or my family. That just pisses me off, and shuts down any chance at conversation with me. (That’s a period at the end of that sentence.)

Stop it with the stones.

If we are really wanting to make a difference in the world and show people love, then let’s go volunteer and do something tangible, because commenting on blogs and sending emails about how we think someone else should live can wait. (And on another note, speaking the truth in love is not an excuse to do that; truth is to be spoken in the context of authentic relationship.)

People die of starvation and exposure, and people are being killed and are committing suicide. Our energy and desire to help can go to a better (and more needed ) cause.

And if it’s sin we are wanting to address, I think nearly every human being would be best to begin with themselves. I know that’s true for me.

Always with love,

C.