What I know today

October 01, 2009

"I love to tell the story of unseen things above. Of spirit, and of glory. Of spirit and of love. I love to tell the story, because I know it's true. It satisfies my longing, like nothing else can do." (From the hymn "I Love to Tell the Story," by Arabella K. Hankey) To those of you who are paying attention: thanks. Thanks so much.

Here's what I know today. This is, of course, subject to change. But it hasn't changed in quite some time. And, of course, your experience and ideas may vary.

* There is a God. She is a universal spirit of love, and also a personal, intimate spirit. She is everything, but she is also every thing. He is beyond my capacity to describe, but he is unmistakable. It is infinitely accepting, infinitely welcoming, infinitely playful and creative, and easily approached simply by sitting still and noticing that it is there. But that's not as easy as it seems, since day to day life tends to force my attention elsewhere.

* I am happiest and most functional when I am oriented toward God. Easy to say. Easy to do. Not so easy to keep doing, say, in traffic, or when confronted by a political opponent.

* For me, orientation toward God is most often sustained and nurtured within a community of people also seeking orientation toward God.

* Story has god-power in it. For ME, the stories I heard as a child about Noah, Moses, Elijah, Esther, Mary, and Jesus of Nazareth resonate with this power. Telling them, hearing them, re-enacting them through performance or ritual is ONE way of orienting myself toward God.

* Those stories come with some pretty nasty side-effects. About race, about class, about gender, about sexuality. Those side-effects are difficult to avoid, and can cause many of us to remove ourselves, in shame, from the universal spirit of love, rather than embrace her.

* Many of the old god stories, even in other traditions, are also fraught with peril, especially around gender. For this and other reasons, the journey toward a permanent and lasting realization of the universal spirit of love is complex, halting, and fraught with peril for any gender transgressor. It's an epic adventure. (When I say 'gender transgressor,' I'm probably talking to you. Not to the tranny you know, but you. Yes You. More on this later.)

* Music, too, has god-power in it. (I would imagine this would be a pretty incontrovertible statement among nearly all of my friends.)

* My purpose, for the foreseeable future, is to tell stories, through music, about God and those who have been shamed from his presence, and their epic journeys toward reconciliation. These are radical retellings of the old stories, or invention of new stories, or the telling of real-life stories that I know. To me, they are fascinating, complex, tragic, comical, and lyrical. Those of you who've known me longest know I've always been inclined to write, and to write songs. What's held me back is that I didn't feel I had much to say. But I've finally found stories that I can't NOT tell. This work is what I do when I'm not doing schoolwork, and sometimes when I am.

* I found this purpose in seminary, and am grateful for that. But sometimes it feels like seminary is standing in the way of this purpose.

Looking back at those bullet points, I'm kind of pleased. That's a lot to know, even if it is subject to change. And there's more that I know, or at least suspect.

* I suspect that the religious community I'm currently in is the right one for me, because of its specific mission, its unique role (more on this later), and the platform it may allow me to tell the stories.

But do not be fooled. There is a whole set of very serious concerns I have around these things, and those concerns will be the subject of a later post.

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