28 January 2008

Psalm 27

I just returned from an Appalachian immersion class in eastern-central Kentucky with 16 other people from different area seminaries. I was both inspired and humbled by our group’s dynamics and by the rich, first-hand experience of Appalachian culture. While studying the injustices of the coal mining industry (i.e. tearing apart the land with mountaintop removal, failing to see or respond to problems made by coal monopoly in some of the poorest counties in the nation, disrupting forests and leaving sludge pond waste for the locals to contend with), we were hit hard with the reality that this same mining was providing jobs to Kentuckians and electricity to us at Columbia Seminary through Georgia Power Company. I am still trying to process and understand all that I have seen in these 17 days in Appalachia.

As I traveled around to different settings to get a feel for this place, I was also struggling with the question, “What do people who are not straight do when they live in very rural places, disconnected from LGBTQ community and support?” I seemed to be the only one in our group asking this question. (Although when I asked our Kentuckian guide, he said he was very open to gay people - especially his best friend, who is partnered.) When I asked the other folks, I heard things that were familiar to me from other rural places I’ve lived: because of the emphasis on religion in the area and the lack of connectedness to larger cities, most folks reject or do not know how to love LGBTQ people.

The lack of reflection with our seminary group about this issue and my fear to even bring it up made me very sad and confused. I never quite figured out how to integrate the part of me that is bisexual into our blended seminary group. I was well aware that for those 17 days something was missing - affirmation so desperately needed from someone else with a shared experience.
The road from isolation into community is not an easy road. In fact it is seemingly impossible at times. But since the retreat last June, the affirmation I have found from Presbyterian Welcome and friends has been life-giving. Presbyterian Welcome has given me courage to be me; and to be me in a community that is earnestly seeking the very face of God. Thank you. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Prayer from Psalm 27: 1, 4-9 from the Lectionary (NRSV):
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
…One thing I asked of the LORD, that I will seek after:
to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will set me on a high rock.
Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,
And I will offer in his tent sacrifices and shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!” Your face, LORD, do I seek. Do not hide your face from me.

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