Yesterday, I was a little down. This is my second “holiday season” as a single man, a relationship status not of my choosing, but is mine nonetheless. As a single man of a certain age (!), it’s not always easy constantly encountering the sights and sounds of family togetherness and happy couples holding hands, knowing that the vast majority of my own time is spent by myself and not with the person I had hoped to share life with.
I am self-aware enough to know that this was part of the reason for being down (or “low energy,” as a dear friend euphemistically describes it); and also self-loving enough to do things to get out of myself and become more engaged with others and the world. All this notwithstanding, I also began to realize how very angry I have become. Angry not only because I had little say in my now being single, but especially at the Church, that is, the institutional Church and its officials. Looking through the many Twitter feeds, blogs and news sources I follow, I felt my anger in a way I hadn’t felt before.
Oh, I know I’ve been angry at bishops and others who claim to speak for the Church for a long time. I love the Church; it is and always will be my family. But anger is a natural response when the family you love denies your full humanity, says you are “intrinsically disordered,” and uses its power to maintain your status as a second class citizen by denying you the civil rights your straight brothers and sisters have. Anger is also a natural response when such exclusionary positions are embraced precisely by those who claim to be shepherds, called to bear witness to the presence and love of Christ.
And so I prayed. I prayed last night that this Advent might help me find ways to respond to this righteous anger not by denying it or letting it rule me, but by allowing the Spirit to transform it into something good. How can I not see the reading from today’s Morning Prayer as a response to that prayer, filling me with hope?
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall flames consume you.
For I, the Lord, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.”
Your statement makes me think of the “It gets better” activity. While it is aimed at adolescents, I think it is a message for all of us. Jimmy Carter told us life isn’t fair and when we have those lonely, impoverished, unloved moments, angry at the world moments, we need to remember that it does get better. They are valid feelings, but as you showed with a little patience there will be a message that eases our pain. The key is patience and working toward solutions even when they seem unlikely. Winter is always followed by Spring.