Monday, May 04, 2009

Clergy Call: Just Do It!

When was the last time you did something just because someone told you to?

I took my sons on a camping trip all around the Continental US about twenty years ago. They were quite young, and rambunctious, and my friends predicted I'd be back in about four days (or did they say four hours?). We were gone for almost eight weeks, and our camping trip turned into a mystical, surprise-laden journey filled with places and people we'd never forget. I know that both boys (men now) recall this summer as a highlight of their lives.

Quite early, we decided to do whatever anyone suggested. If we met a local, and they said, "you should go up that road and buy some honey from the lady with the crazy mailbox.. she'll give you a tour of her farm...," or if they said, "Leave at night so you will just arrive at the Grand Canyon in time for sunrise," we did it. Fortunately, no one suggested we jump into the Grand Canyon.... Years later, I bought a Rick Steves Guide to Great Britain and did almost everything he said, but this was a bit less predictable!

Since that time, I've returned to the usual human behaviors of planning and controlling my own plans so tightly that happenstance, serendipity, and plain old novelty couldn't squeeze in if they tried. Recognizing a frantically busy person, they haven't tried much anyhoo.

So, it felt a bit like twenty years ago when somoene from the Human Rights Campaign called to ask me to come to Washington, DC for the second CLERGY CALL. "Right now, we have only one person coming from Kentucky," she said. "OK, then, I'll get there," I promised, astonishing myself, and no doubt the caller, since the conference was about ten days away. It took some doing, but I'm here.

Maybe it was seeing the film Milk not long ago that got me started thinking about how much still needs to be done for GLBT rights.

Or maybe it was the young woman who came to a membership meeting last week (her mother came along), having found the church all by herself at age fifteen, and having insisted upon joining because she noticed our street-side banner proclaiming our support for same-sex marriage.

I'm no expert on GLBT rights, but I know Kentucky is no easy place to be gay or transgendered.

Last night, here at my host home, I met a woman who grew up African American in Oklahoma. Hard enough -- but she also had a brother who was transgender and who suffered so much injustice and intimidation that she determined to become a pastor at a GLBT-inclusive congregation. She walked away from her former church because the pastor wouldn't acknowledge her calling to serve queer folk. Something about her courage to stride into the unknown just startled me into remembering that once, I was spontaneous.

I'll keep you posted on what I learn.