This is the third post about what happened on my 8-day silent retreat in July. If you haven’t read the previous posts. I encourage you to do that before you read today’s.
Erik suggested that I pray with Psalm 51. Since we both care deeply about what happened to the First Peoples after the settlers came to Canada, he encouraged me to allow that sin to enter into my prayers.
I opened Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying, and this portion of Psalm 51 spoke to me.
Have mercy on me, O Gracious One,
according to your steadfast love;
According to your abundant kindness
forgive me where my thoughts and deeds have hurt others. . .
Teach me, that I may know my weaknesses,
the shortcomings that bind me,
the unloving ways that separate me,
that keep me from recognizing your Life in me
For I keep company with fear,
and dwell in the house of ignorance.
Yet, I was brought forth in love
and love is my birthright.
There it was in black and white. My unloving ways–born of weakness and ignorance–separate me and hurt others.
I have hurt others. I breathed deeply, feeling the sadness in my heart, my throat and down my arms.
But the sadness did not overwhelm me. Grace was there too. These words were also true: I was brought forth in love and love is my birthright.
Jesus said, “Let’s go for a walk.”
We went with God and the Holy Spirit back in time and into a residential school. We saw children muzzled, scrubbed clean of their identity, robbed of their humanity. We wept from a bottomless well of grief.
“The government, the church, the average person–they all dwelt in a house of ignorance,” I said to Jesus. “I never want to be that blind.”
Then I saw that I was.
I too followed the church’s ways and trusted my elders. I even thought I was being compassionate.
Years ago, when my lesbian coworker and my gay youth group member asked me if it was okay to be gay, I told them what the Bible said. I didn’t realize then that I was muzzling, scrubbing, robbing them of life, separating them from Love.
That was a long time ago. I see things differently now. Yet, more recently, I ‘ve judged people as “less than” and justified myself when others did the same.
The Trinity encircled me and held me tenderly.
We are all brought forth in love and love is our birthright.
Forgive all that binds me in fear,
that I might radiate love.
∗ ∗ ∗
On August 4, I attended my first Pride Parade. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family were in the parade. Organizations, businesses, government departments, support services and schools demonstrated their support. I particularly liked the signs that said, “Closets are for clothes; schools are for everyone.” The ones that said, “I love my gay son” and “I love all my children” brought tears to my eyes. For three hours my friend and I watched and hoped and finally, near the end, came a supportive voice from the Christian community. Parishioners from Christ Church Cathedral paraded with pride.