Dear Reverend Trumbore,
I just read your blog post “When God Talks Back” and was engaged.
As a transwoman who has attended your services in the past (we have chatted about your sermons before) the question of what messages to listen to and which to ignore has always been at the forefront for me. After all, the call to cross gender lines is one that even now can’t easily be obeyed, let alone back when I was growing up. We police gender by social pressure, and any crossing is sure to bring massive resistance.
Joseph Campbell said that James Joyce was brilliant because he saw the world as symbol. Engaging the symbols and signs we see in the world engages the voice of the divine inside of us, because, after all, we are the ones who assigning meaning to symbols. Seeing symbols unlocks our own inner voice, allows us to hear what we are taught to drown in noise.
For me, the key test for callings is simple: Does what I am being called to do reinforce separation in the world, or does it celebrate connection? The message to harm, to demonize, to destroy is always a message of separation, one of cleansing the world from those we see as evil. It is, however a comforting message, because it externalizes the challenge, moves it out of ourselves and into others. If the scary is out there, we can build an enclave, cast out others, create separation and feel safe.
The message to connect, though, to reach out in love and solidarity, is much harder. This act forces us to face our own fears and demons, to go inside engage our own relationship to the world, to others, to the creator. It demands we ignore our own comfort to reach out and do the right thing, do the work of connection, even with those we find distasteful or frightening.
Do we follow the call to fear and separation, or to love and connection? It’s what A Course In Miracles is all about, and in my experience, a good way to define churches. Some are lead by Preachy Preachers, who explain how evil is all out there and we must stop it, and some lead by Teachy Preachers, who explain how the challenge is inside of us, learning to act more out of a righteous impulse, moving beyond fear to love.
I have been taking care of my parents full time for almost ten years now, which has lead me to become isolated, but they both died in the past two months. And now I have to create a new identity beyond caregiver, getting back to speaking for myself and not for them, as my father reminded me often on his death bed.
Than requires me to look at symbols, interpret signs and create life out of calling, even a very queer calling.
It is a challenge, indeed.
Thanks for listening.