Over the weekend, I pondered on the words that Severus Snape said to Harry Potter as he was dying. "Look...at...me..." Harry caught up the silver strands of memories dripping from Snape, stored it, and later looked at in it Dumbledore's pensieve. Before that moment, no one had ever truly seen Snape - his childhood, his young adult life, and later his adult life as a double agent. He was a misunderstood soul right up to the end. "Look...at...me" The real me, the me I was when no one else was around.
In _Speaker of the Dead_, Ender learns all of the dead person's life, the good, the bad, the ugly, and then tells it as it is, without apology or embarrassment.
There is something so profound about the simple thought to, "Look at me." To see the great whole.
I have been interested in such things since I was at least 11. I remember asking my mother to come outside and talk to me. As she gathered up her cigarettes, lighter and her glass of water, I ran outside and got 2 camping chairs and set them up. When she came outside, I asked her to sit down (very proper, I was) and then proceeded to ask her to tell me about herself. (What child does that?!) But it was important to me. It still is. I love to discover things about people that explains why they believe the way they do and do what they do. People are complex, and an event that happened 30 years before could be haunting or inspiring them still.
Yesterday in church, one of my growing up moments flashed back to me. When I heard the words “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him," I lit up. This was one of the first places that I discovered God; one of the first time that I ever read scripture on my own. It took me back to the summer of 1985, back to the very beginning of my spiritual awakening. Up to that point: I prayed. Sometimes. I had faith in God. When my mom reminded me.
That summer when we were at family reunion, I found my dad's Bible in the camping trailer and I took it outside, sat down on a camping chair, and opened the Bible to Matthew 25 purely by chance. My dad happened to walk by (I think he'd been fishing, but I'm not positive) and asked what I was reading. "The Bible," I answered. "Why? Are you that damn bored?" was his response. LOL :) My dad wasn't much of a religious man until later on - about '99 is what I'm remembering. We all have our own spiritual awakenings happen exactly when we're ready for them.
My dad didn't hang around, but came and left fairly quickly and I got back to reading.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
That passage hit me so hard! It resonated with me on a level that I didn't yet understand. I was so excited that I shared it with my step-sister Jalene; it didn't resonate with her like it did me. I had found a treasure.
That passage sums up how I feel about religion more than any other. Heck, it sums up life more than any other!
A stranger. A prisoner. Naked. Sound like someone that we want to walk right up to and take care of? No, that's why so many don't. Me included, many times. It is uncomfortable. It is scary. It isn't what is done. But it is what is asked.
Over the weekend I've thought of my vows for eternity. It feels like a secure place to be, after you are part of a ceremony that ties up your eternity with pretty bows and ribbons. But into my mind comes the other thoughts. The ones where LGBTQ are tolerated, and even loved and accepted as long as they don't act on their gayness. Where women can be separate but equal; if they are loud about wanting to just be "equal", they will be "counseled with love" and if they don't back down, they will be stripped of their eternal salvation - their family ties broken, their covenants as though they never existed...
In church on Sunday, a couple sat in front of me. Two men. I always see them together at church. Are they just friends? During the offering of the Peace, they hugged. Hugging is typically what husbands and wives do during this part of the service (though I'm sure some people are huggers with others). Huh. Cool. People saw them hug. I'm sure the priest has seen them hug before. I assume that they are together. I assume that others assume the same thing. And the people came and shook their hands and smiled at them anyway. That isn't part of what the Master hung salvation on in that passage: smiling and shaking hands with two gay men, but in my head it applies.
After a week of thoughtfulness, melancholy, anger, frustration, I was at the pinnacle of my own belief system: God insists that we love each other as ourselves. He insists that we show kindness and mercy. He insists that it is important, even if it is uncomfortable, scary, or against societal norms. When asked what the great commandment was, Jesus answered,
37 ...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Although it is simple, it is not easy.
In church yesterday, I saw this happen. I witnessed it with my own eyes. It made my heart full.
P.S.(And I sat in front of the stained glass window again. My day is made so much "gladder" when my program, Book of Common Prayer, and Hymn book reflects the colors of those windows :) )
P.S.S. As I read this over again, I realize that the first part about Snape, about Ender, and about my mom seem a mash up, but really, this new awakening I'm having, this metamorphic journey that I'm on, is a part of me that feels very vulnerable. It feels like the dream where I show up to school in my pajamas. Because there are many who will be saddened or upset that I'm looking at things in new ways that don't go along with the old, I feel like I should hide and keep quiet. But there is a part of me that wants you to "Look at me" long before I'm gone, unlike Snape.
I've heard that the only way to live wholeheartedly is to be vulnerable. To live as honest and open a life as you can. I agree. To live in fear of how others will view you, to keep those things hidden away attracts the things that live in the dark: fear, guilt, and shame. I have no desire to live that way. Also, for the most part, I really love the journey I'm on. It is hard and uncomfortable sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it. And I'm so thankful to the Lord for shining light on my pathway as I walk along.