Here we are. The first post.
I’ve blogged before. For a while I wanted to be a journalist, before the performing arts took their hold on me. Words have always gripped me, grappling with my heart and dancing across my mind, filling my thoughts with conscious and unconscious brushstrokes of freshly-formed metaphor, imagery, allegory.
Remember these chains – taken from the words of Paul when he wrote to the Colossians. He was in prison, probably malnourished, probably dying. He had a thorn in his side, but all he could repeat was the grace and the glory of God. But at the very end of his note, after some teaching and some words of advice, he quivers.
Paul signs his name. I Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. I imagine him shaking, astounded that he’s even alive to write this letter, trusting that he won’t stay in prison forever but with no real idea of what tomorrow will bring. In my mind, his memory races back to the day he was blinded, the first time he ever saw clearly, his first day of freedom.
Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
And before he can change his mind, he seals the letter and sends it. Remember his suffering, remember what he aches and longs for while encouraging you, building you up. The first leader of the church, the author of most of the collection we’d later come to call the New Testament. The most famous of the saints, his body stripped and beaten, his body physically weak. But his resolve as strong as ever.
Remember my chains. The words echo around my mind whenever I read them, haunting me, sending a shiver from the cradle of my skull right down to the base of my spine. These words, at least, are not mine. They are almost 2,000 years old, a memory that has passed its way through countless battles for freedom. Paul could never have known the extent to which we’d remember them.
I am not the Apostle Paul. I am not claiming to be anything like that. But I am here, I am bruised and broken, and I, like so many before me, and so many to come, remember what freedom felt like.
I am still free, really.
If I wrote a letter to the Church about what I’m doing here, it would go something like that. Something like this.
I’ve already said too much.
The internet and I are not strangers. Nor am I a stranger to the Church.
The most beautiful and flawed group of people I will ever meet. The Church. The assembly of saints, gathered to praise the King of Kings, to glorify the name of He who Saves.
But don’t we spend just so much time fighting?
I refuse to start hating you. I will not crumble and I won’t relent, but I refuse to start hating you.
You are beautiful.
You saved my life. Well, Jesus saved my life, but He used you for that glory.
You hurt me. Stabbed me with your lies, pierced me with your glares, derided me with your mouths.
But I refuse to start hating you.
We’re all learning. We see now dimly but we shall know fully. We haven’t got it all figured out. We’re lying if we pretend we do. i haven’t got this all figured out yet. Somewhere in my soul a tide is churning, waves rising and I cannot hold them in any more. There is a voice pounding against my chest. I don’t know what it sounds like. I think it’s a male voice. But I’m listening to it.
I will speak against you, and I will keep tripping. Each time I fall further and I fall harder but each time you catch me. When it boils down to it, you always catch me. I love you for that.
Listen, I know that right now I’m not your favourite person. You love me, of course, but you love me like you love murderers and fraudsters. You give me the same narrow-eyed look you give them, as if I might jump you at any moment. Not that we are supposed to look at them any differently, but we do. We haven’t got it all figured out just yet. We’re learning.
I’m learning how to phrase this. Learning how to put this into words.
It doesn’t sound as impressive as “I’m gay,” does it? But that’s what I am. I like men. I really like men. And even though I still like women, I think I’m probably going to end up marrying a man.
If you let me, that is.
You’ve told me before. About Adam, about man, about companionship. Leviticus, Sodom, Paul. The big picture. The Bride and the Bridegroom. The greatest love story ever told. I heard you whenever you told me. I hear you now when you tell me again.
We’re still learning. I think we got that one wrong. I really do.
This is my notebook. Will you help me write it?
It’s easier if I don’t tell you my name. It’s just, I might get distracted. Saying things to please the people in tomorrow’s world. If you don’t know my name you have only my words. Dancing, grappling, shooting around your mind. The voice breaking out of my chest, spilling on to this page, these pages.
I’m still figuring this out, and I’m still understanding it all. I know what I believe, but I’m not sure how to make it happen.
But this is my notebook. Help me write it. Learn with me. Listen with me. Speak with me. Stand up. Fight.
You are a very good fighter. You have fought and fought to keep me silent. I know that. You continue to trip me, to push me, to slam my face in to the dirt. I was with you, once. I agreed with you. Things change. We learn anew. We see now dimly, but we will know fully.
I am nobody’s spokesman. I am not here to do that, I am not here to give voice to the people. But this cry that is bursting forth is one I share with millions more.
I’ve already said too much.
For now I’m nameless. Anonymous. Mute. You did that to me.
But I refuse to start hating you. I refuse to ever hate you.
Remember these chains.