Thursday, November 8, 2012

Full Circle, with Tears and Joy

"By and by, when the morning comes,
When the Saints of God are gathered home,
We'll tell the story of how we've overcome,
and we'll understand it better by and by."

I began this blog 4 years ago, in the aftermath of the passage of Prop 8 in California, when the country took a turn towards equality in its election of Barack Obama as our president, while some of our states took a sharp turn away.

On Tuesday, my home state of Minnesota took a turn towards equality when we voted down a similar amendment to our constitution by a margin of 52-48%, the first time any state in the union overturned an effort to dehumanize LGBT people in its state constitution. We shouted and laughed and wept tears of joy.

But underneath it all, for me at least and I think for many others, were another kind of tears. These are tears for those who didn't make it to see this day, who died of AIDS and suicide, those young people who didn't make it to see their high school graduations like Justin Aaberg, whose death pierced my heart as it pierced the hearts of many. The following is my reflection on this experience:


What I hear and feel most deeply around the defeat of the anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota is how deep it has hit so many of us in our souls, and how that power has come out of our eyes through those gentle drops of soul-rain. 

Having to prove one's humanity again, and again, and again to those who deny it is not only tiring, not only demeaning, not only frustrating. It is also deeply sad. It is sad for me and it is sad for those who cannot be moved, whose binders and blinders are so thick that they cannot see what is in front of them: LOVE. 

And that makes me sob like a baby.

And I think, man, I've been at this for 25 years, what about those who have hit this soul-draining homophobia for 35, 45, 55, 65, 75 years, those who died who never had a moment like we had on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning when this cursed proposed amendment took a header down the stairs of history?

What about those who deal with multiple stigma being put on them from the outside of their beautiful bodies and souls that grows inside them like a mold that grows out of control, about those throughout the world who do not have time to worry about their sexual orientation oppression because that is too much of a first-world problem, about those who have scarce dared to tell another soul what is most on their heart? 

What about those who suffered in silence or out loud, those young people who were made to feel like villains for being who they were, who were physically, spiritually, and sexually abused, who took their lives rather than living another day in a world that they felt could do nothing but hate them?

And then I see them: The Saints of God.

Those who are streaming in from all times and from all places, who have been washed in the tears that Jesus has for those who have undergone torment not only *in* his name, but *under* his name. Those whose faith has been kicked down the stairs along with their bodies, spirits, and souls, all the while those who are doing the kicking are repeating: JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, seized with anger or laughter or just plain blank-slate horror in the name of the Lord.

And the Saints stream in from all times and from all places, singing in the name of LOVE. 

And they know. 

They understand. 

They in glory shine. 

They have seen what there is to see. 

And they have overcome.

By and by, when the morning comes. When the saints of God are gathered home. We'll tell the stories of how we've overcome. And we'll understand it better by and by. 

"Festival of Lights," © 2000 John August Swanson