Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Casual Fridays

You may recall that I wrote earlier about the need for and the challenge of reaching out to friends and colleagues about my Christian faith. As I said there, I am hesitant to do the "evangelizing thing" because the right-wing wack-jobs seem to have "patented" the Christian name.

A new visitor has weighed-in on that thread, and I welcome her remarks. As I've pondered them this evening, they led me to this additional reflection.

In my leisure times, and on casual Fridays at work, I typically wear one of my many shirts with the TEC shield or my parish logo or my Manner of Life shirt. Many folks around here know I'm gay. Living in a part of the U.S. where "gay" equals "infidel," "apostate," and/or "heathen," I wear the Christian and Episcopal shirts in hopes that it will provide a "door opening" for folks to ask me about my faith.

I remember a friendship nearly 20 years ago. I had a good friend and colleague, whom I knew to be an Episcopalian, and whose faith and spirituality I knew to be important to her. At that point, I had completely given up on Christianity and the church. I well recall an evening sitting out on the deck where I was vacationing with her and her friend on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, when I blurted out (no doubt violently and angrily and insolently): "How the hell can two such smart women as you continue to worship that old white god?" I was pissed. I was angry and hurt by religionists. But these women engaged my question tenderly and thoughtfully. And they kept talking with me through several years of our friendship – despite my anger and my approach/avoidance belligerence. Several years later, I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. One of those women was the priest who led me through the catechism and preparation for confirmation; the other sat in the nave that spring day when I recited my promises and was confirmed.

To this day, I credit those two women with saving my life. I was on a downward spiral of spiritual despair. When I blurted out my antipathy at their "old white God," they didn't beat me over the head with a Bible and tell me I had to accept the Lord Cheezus as my Personal Savior. They engaged my question tenderly and respectfully, in a conversation that took place over the course not just of that week, but of several years to come.

And so I think again about my habit of wearing my Christian/Episcopalian shirts. I wear them in the hopes of being an open door. I wear them in the hope that somebody may ask me – as I asked those friends back in the early '90s: "How the heck can you be gay and a Christian?" I keep hoping it will eventually give me a chance to talk with them about Christianity outside the neanderthal mindset that so hideously dominates our American culture.

I think some of those conversations do occur – though perhaps not as dramatically as I might hope. Sometimes, people who are hurting or struggling do seek me out. And I speak with them as honestly as I can, out of my full humanity and out of my full, flawed faith. I can't say that any of them have shown up in church the next Sunday to accept Cheezus Christ.

But I didn't run to church the next Sunday after Nancy & Pam talked to me of their faith, either. It took years for me to talk and listen and slowly be converted.

I want to offer other people – especially the "outcasts" – the kind of faith and hope that I have found in the church. I wish all of them would come to my healthy Episcopal parish this Sunday, and that they would "taste and see" as I have tasted and seen. But I suppose it doesn't always happen that quickly and easily.

So, meanwhile, I will continue to wear my polo shirts and t-shirts and sweatshirts with the Episcopal shield … in hopes that doors will continue to open and that folks who feel beat-up by the religionists may get a hunch that we're not all close-minded bigots.

Know what I mean?


Blogger Barbi Click said...

Don't worry, Lisa. One of these days, someone will ask you and you will indeed be ready.
You are a witness.

11/21/2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger Caminante said...

Gee, I think I know the two people of whom you speak -- until they moved away, they would to Vermont and spend a day or two with us yakking and yakking. Glad that they saved your soul as it were.

11/21/2007 10:25 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

It was lovely to hear of your faith story. Seeds are planted and who knows when they'll flourish? That's what you do when you wear those shirts.

11/21/2007 3:56 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, y'all.

Caminante, I suspect you do.

11/23/2007 1:46 PM  

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