“What follows has led me to this place where I belong with all erased.”
Today is Wednesday, 6 March 2019. It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of the liturgical season of Lent. Lent is intended to commemorate the gospel story of Jesus of Nazareth spending 40 days fasting and resisting temptation in the wilderness.
Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I learned that Lent was a time when we were supposed give something up. Sundays and Holy Saturday didn’t count, and could have the thing we were denying ourselves on those days. I would try to continue that practice when I joined the United Church of Christ in 1988.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a call to change our Lenten sacrifices. Instead of giving up something we love, I’ve seen calls to give up something that causes harm either to ourselves or others. I’ve also seen calls to take on a new practice to deepen one’s spiritual life.
Today is Ash Wednesday, and I’m completely unprepared for Lent.
Last month at PantheaCon, my spiritual limits were pushed beyond my limits. But, I forced myself to stay as calm as possible due to the work that needed to be done. What was that work? Sending the message that trans people are not only people who deserve their places in Pagan settings, but that we deserve our places among the living as well. That work to an immense toll on me. The recent decision by the voting majority of the United Methodist Church to exclude TBQALG persons from full life in the church did not happen in isolation. Methodists can be found in all places in society, and their church just told them that the Great Commandment and the second half of the Golden Rule can be applied selectively. This, too, will affect people like me because of the fact that Methodists vote, run for and hold public office, can be medical professionals, are hiring managers. Their church has now given them permission to persecute us. And, the Roman Catholic Church has basically said that not only can sexual assault survivors be held responsible for what happened to them, but that Confession must remain inviolate and Confessors don’t have to reveal who among Catholic clergy are predators.
With all these weighing on me, it’s no wonder I haven’t been able to think about what my Lenten practice would be this year. Maybe there are others who are more mentally healthy than I who can endure things like this and still make a commitment. Great! That’s wonderful! I can’t, and I’m done justifying my abilities or lack thereof to others. I’m not as strong as a great many others, and to quote A Clockwork Orange, I offer “no appy polly loggies to thee or thine for that!”
My Lenten practice this year will be to survive. Maybe even to thrive. And with that, I leave you with the following “plainclothes hymn.”
Amen, and Blessed Be.