I had a few other things I was going to write about (some response to bits of The God Who Weeps and thoughts on what it really means to be childlike), but it felt wrong to not talk about the Policy leaked a year ago yesterday (5 November 2015). So, here we go.
My thoughts from a year ago still capture much of what I feel and hope to do for others. There have been some semi-clarifying statements from the Church, but nothing has answered the yearning for understanding that I still feel (and Pres. Nelson’s discussion of the revelation behind the Policy has definitely led to greater inner turmoil and confusion).
Where’s the love? Where is the love?
The Shauna Niequist quote I used a year ago resonates still:
“…What I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for.”
The fear and mess hasn’t left. Who knows when or if it will. This particular fear and mess seems impossible to hold on to, but I can’t see why it would be here now. Yet, even if this leaves, I think life (not just mortality) is living in the fear and mess. Life is messy. Fear inducing. All I can do is to try to be the love that others seek. I don’t know if there’s love to be found somewhere in all of this besides what I can give to those around me. This still feels like a loveless, hopeless place, but that’s all the more reason to care for those around me and to be that love and hope that we all desperately crave.
After all, “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).
Good friends have left because of this particular fear and mess. No, it wasn’t the only thing, but it was the final one. Many others ache for friends and loved ones that cannot force identities to co-exist that they once thought they could. I hurt for all those that suffer. I have friends whose lives are painted in starker contrasts than they previously thought, who may be cast out from among us and whose children cannot belong until much later in life.
Where is the love in that?
Where is the love?
I love God and want to do what He/She/They ask of me, but this does not feel like it comes from the God I love. I could be wrong, but if I am, I don’t know if I can love a God that would command/reveal this.
So, what do I do? I don’t know. I feel called to stay. To be here. To try and be that love for this (and other) fears and messes. To be on the edge of the inside (the fringe, as it were). I will love others. I will seek to walk with them through the fear and mess towards the Quiet Uptown. (It strikes me as important that Kelly Clarkson’s take on “It’s Quiet Uptown” was released earlier this week.) As the song says:
“There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
Then push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
Feels easier to just swim down
And so they move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable
I spend hours in the garden
I walk alone to the store
And it’s quiet uptown
I never liked the quiet before
I take the children to church on Sunday
A sign of the cross at the door
And I pray
That never used to happen before”
The song is an emotional one. Not just because of the emotion in the musical, but because I turned to it after my cousin passed away in January and again, when I lost another cousin in July. It conjures up thoughts of the lives lost far too soon due to the policy. It speaks to the emotional and spiritual pain many have been experiencing for the past year. It sits with that pain and suffering, yet reaches for something more. I identify with the reaching towards God echoed in the last four(ish) lines of that verse. I don’t know what else to do besides to pray like I never have before. The final verse suggests some peace being reached, even while affirming the fear and mess (to use the language I’ve been employing here).
“There are moments that the words don’t reach
There’s a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we could never understand
We push away the unimaginable
They’re standing in the garden
Standing there side by side
She takes his hand
It’s quiet uptown
Forgiveness, can you imagine?
Forgiveness, can you imagine?”
They don’t have the answers. I don’t have the answers. I may never have them. But I can be there to take someone’s hand, to stand by their side. We can all try to embody that “grace too powerful to name.” I don’t see the love and so I’ll be that love as best I can. I’m far from perfect and all too often get caught up in my own intellectual, fringe-y Mormon headspace, divorced from lived experience. Or dig into school and teaching and all the other things I commit myself to. Or I lose myself in film because it’s beautiful and glorious and challenging, but easy to give to.
I strive to be there for others. To listen to and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, to mourn with those that mourn, but I can do better. I hope all you reading this know I’m here for you. We’re in this together. I will walk with you as we traverse the fear and mess. I’ll seek that grace, swim down if necessary, and reach for forgiveness.