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Archive for June, 2016

The Ribbons

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“Oh, you made yourself a little corsage!”

The strange match-up of crinkly orange paper ribbon and an orange zinnia I had grabbed from my garden on the way to church confused a lot of people.

Was it my birthday? (no)

An anniversary? (heavens, no)

Some kind of celebration of summer? (hardly)

I expect that only the clergy got it – remembering that a couple of weeks ago was the Sunday when Episcopal clergy were encouraged by their bishops to wear orange to protest gun violence in America.

When I woke up and heard about the Orlando massacre, I just had to do something. So I pinned a bunch of orange ribbon on my shoulder that looked like it belonged at a kid’s birthday party and stuck a flower in the middle.

I didn’t even care if nobody got it, although some people asked and I told them what it was for. I needed to do something in response to the killings of innocent, brown people, most of them gay. Yes, brown. There was no mention of the fact that this was a Latin nightclub for several days. Didn’t they know?

Like many of you now, I am saturated with the news about Orlando. Everyone on the planet, it seems, has weighed in on social media, news outlets, and in conversation. I am sick of it and sick at heart. I have a gay daughter and I am scared for her a good part of the time, knowing the amount of hate there is out there and how many of the haters have guns.

A gay man posted this on Facebook:

“I live in Texas and was not personally effected by this tragedy. We’ll still go out and attend functions and hold our heads high. I’m about as “don’t give a shit what ANYONE thinks” as anyone you’ll ever meet… but when I reach to hold Matt’s hand in the car I still do the mental calculation of “ok, that car is just slightly behind us so they can’t see, but that truck to my left can see right inside the car”.  I’m never fully in the moment. I’m always parsing who is around us and paying attention to it. There’s a tension that comes with that… a literal tensing of the muscles as you brace for potential danger. For a lot of us, it’s become such an automatic reaction that we don’t even think about it directly any more. We just do it.

But we will be doing those mental calculations for the rest of our lives. Those little PDAs you take for granted with your spouse. They come with huge baggage for us. Every single one is an act of defiance, with all that entails.”

Last Sunday – the day of the shootings—coincidentally I interviewed a gay man for the Evangelist who is among the bravest, most thoughtful and compassionate people I have ever met. He told me his story, discussed his struggles and his triumphs. What a privilege to be trusted to write this and just to hear him, as you will when the next Evangelist comes out.

This coming Sunday the Gospel is about Jesus’ exorcism of the Gerasane demon, that pitiful, shackled soul that lives among the tombs. I also will be preaching about the demons that enslave us all, collectively and individually.

And we will have orange ribbons should you want one to wear one to signal your outrage over gun violence and the innocent lives it blows away. You may want to take it with you and wear it in public and field the inquiries it brings.

At least this is doing something.

It’s a start.

See you in church.
Barbara

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