I cried through church today.
This is not all that an uncommon occurrence, though it hasn’t happened in a good long while…which was nice.
My dry eye streak ended this morning.
And I wasn’t even wearing waterproof mascara.
I have a lot on my mind lately, with the election looming, and fighting for the passage of Carlisle’s non-discrimination ordinance, and gearing up for the holidays….and that doesn’t even scratch the personal crap going through my busy little brain on a daily basis.
Sometimes, a good cry is cathartic.
Sometimes, it’s necessary.
And sometimes, you cry because you realize that you missed an opportunity to live out your worldview/faith/beliefs, and you’re kicking yourself in the ass for fucking up and not living up to your own theology.
And *THAT* was what sent me over the edge into a puddle of pew-tears this morning.
I fucked up.
Last night, I had an opportunity to live out the core of my belief system — that every person on this planet has inherent dignity and worth, and should be treated accordingly, even if you disagree or don’t see eye to eye — and I didn’t act that way.
Believing it is easy. Living it is harder.
If you follow me at all on social media, you’ll know that I’ve been very vocal at city council meetings in regards to our local anti-discrimination ordinance. It would guarantee the rights of all Carlisle’s residents [particularly Carlisle’s LGBTQIA residents], and it needs to be passed.
There’s a particular member of our city council who has been more than slightly opposed to this piece of legislation, and she’s made her disdain for LGB, and especially T, people plain during council meetings, to the point that I called her out by name at the last meeting for her rude behavior while sitting on the council bench, asking her to put her phone away and actually pay attention when we speak.
She boils my blood.
And she showed up at my church’s annual charity auction last night.
Ms. “I don’t think discrimination exists, LGBTQ people don’t need equal rights, I’m going to play on my phone while transpeople talk so I don’t have to listen to them” showed up to a charity auction at a Unitarian Universalist church.
Oh the irony.
She was surrounded by the very people she is refusing to include and protect.
She was invited by a member of the congregation.
And I was PISSED.
My first thought, upon seeing her, was “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT WOMAN DOING INVADING THE ONE QUEER FRIENDLY CHURCH IN THIS TOWN?!?!?”
She’d invaded my sacred space. Brought the fight [just with her presence] to the place I consider my sanctuary from all the fighting.
If I hadn’t been emceeing the event, I would have bolted. I didn’t want to be in the same room with her.
And then, as I sat seething behind the set on the stage, I had a realization that gave me a swift kick right in the conscience.
I heard the words of our first principle in my mind…
“We affirm the dignity and worth of every human being”
And I heard Aija’s voice, as she greets us every Sunday —
“You are welcome here. You are needed here. You are wanted here.”
And that meant her too.
I wish I could say that I came off the stage and greeted her. Welcomed her to the auction. Welcomed her to UUCV. Told her that I hoped she had a good time. Offered her a glass of wine.
But I didn’t.
I had an opportunity to live out that central tenant of my faith, and i blew it.
Instead, I sat on the stage, hoping she didn’t see me, repeating “everyone means everyone. Inherent dignity and worth means everyone” over and over like a mantra.
Near the end of the night, I looked around the room.
She was gone.
And it was then that I felt that kick in the guts feeling.
You know what I succeeded in doing?
I made myself miserable trying to avoid her all night, AND I didn’t do anything to make her feel welcome.
I’ve been stewing about it ever since.
If ANYONE in the history of ever needed to walk through our doors, it was her.
She needed to see us all there, feel what inclusion, what radical welcome feels like.
Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything.
But maybe it would have.
And I had the opportunity to be part of that change.
And I blew it.
I wish I could say that I got it right. That I live out my faith perfectly every time.
But I don’t.
And I royally missed the mark on this one.
[And now I have to figure out where to go from here.
Faith can be a messy thing, especially when it’s a faith that is an orthopraxy, and is more about how we treat ourselves and others than in belief in a divine being.
I didn’t get it right this time. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself for that.
So I had a good cry.
And if I see her in the grocery….I’m going to say hello…and mean it.