Monday, February 24, 2014

Donut holes with the enemy

As winter fades into spring, I am attempting to do some (more) inner work on myself. It's actually a plan without an end. Once I get a bit of control over one fault, another bubbles up to laugh at me. Haha! Yes, you're sober now, but you're still a bitch at home! Tee hee! And hypercritical? Yeah, that's you! Also, did I mention lazy? 

What's bubbling right now is that ol' tendency I have to be judgmental, when I encounter something, or someone, that I don't like. This falls within a wide range, and covers everything from bemoaning others' right-wing political opinions to laughing at those Walmart pictures of chubby women in stretch pants and skinny tops. Equal-opportunity condemnation! And it takes place mostly in my head, which is undoubtedly a bad thing. It means that I avoid situations I don't like, but I condemn them secretly.

A few posts ago, I recounted my speechless, liberal shock-and-horror when a relatively new person in our congregation, offered a suggestion that we should all support Chick-Fil-A in its corporate dislike of LGBT people. As a "progressive," I was way out of my comfort zone, and didn't even try to deal with her on a personal level. I certainly had enough to say out of her earshot, however. And none of it was nice.

Anyway, she has turned up again in church. Another choir member spotted her yesterday, and pointed her out to me. This is apparently not the first time she has returned.

"Love your enemies" was one theme of yesterday's Gospel reading.  This made me profoundly uncomfortable, which is probably the point, since the Gospel is intended to burn before it soothes. And burned I was. I got to coffee hour, and there she was, at a table by herself. No one had bothered to sit with her. This is something that never happens at our church -- we are a really loving bunch of people, and we make inclusiveness our goal. But no one approached her. The problem was, as my mother would have phrased it, that people "didn't know whether to shit or go blind."

I miss my mother. She called it like she saw it. She never bothered with secret condemnation. She would tell you right off.

So down I sat , after having cranked up my flagging courage and gathered a few donut holes on a plate. The woman  (whom I will call "Molly") was pleasant enough as I reintroduced myself , and we passed the time of day.  We vigorously approved the coffee-hour treat selection, and the large group of adorable kids in the first-communion class. We talked about good thrift-shops we had discovered in the area. Then I asked her if she had found a job yet, referring back to a conversation we had had a few weeks ago, and the waters closed over my head.

"Of course not," she exclaimed. "Those immigrants are taking all our jobs! I won't find a job until they close the borders!"

Well, I hope they don't do that, I thought. That would be a bad, bad thing. I think I made a sympathetic, noncommittal croaking noise, however.

"Let me ask you," Molly continued, "Do you read the Bible?"

"Of course," I said. I probably should have been more specific: I read the sections of the Bible that are called for in the Daily Office (and usually only the Gospel, since I read Evening Prayer from an app on my phone). It's not what I think of as "Bible-reading." But never mind.).

"So you know what it says about homosexuality?" she persisted.

Oh, here we go, I thought. Is this where I get up and start screaming? "You mean the Sodom and Gomorrah story in Genesis? " I asked mildly. "Everybody likes to use that as an anti-gay proof-text. "

She looked at me expectantly.

"Well ... um ..." I mumbled. "Don't you think Genesis is a little .. um .. late-bronze-agey for us?" You know, a little outdated, like the Nicene Creed,  said the howling voice in my head, written by 4th-century dead guys. It could use a tweak here and there, too. Along with a lot of other doctrine. I could go on ...

She looked at me reproachfully. Before she could reply, God took mercy on me, and we were joined at the table by another parishioner, a dear friend who happens to be gay. The talk turned very general at that point (a very good thing), and it soon became time for me to leave to help with a home communion. We all departed together and went our separate ways. "See you next week," I said to the woman.

Will she come back next week? I hope so. Despite our being so liberal, there is obviously something here in our church that she needs.  I hope she finds it, or it finds her. And I hope to stay out of the way of that, and to allow her her own opinion, whether I like it or not.

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