Today has been a long, hard day. Not a bad day - I try to remind myself that there is no such thing as a bad day, only a day of challenges and hard moments. But it was certainly full of those, and I have shed tears.
I lied today. A lie which did little damage, but changed the shape of the universal web, and a lie which was simply that - a lie. It did no harm but was still not right. I am sorry for that. As part of a conversation on sin within UU beliefs, Franke recounted a memory of her father’s view on deceit - that it simply wasn’t useful and thus did not merit use. I feel like a coward at this point, but sometimes, I need those little white lies. I will become stronger and try not to. It is something I must work on.
However, since I have started writing here, I have become perpetually conscious of my environment, more so than before. This is the source of the title of this post - the man who danced. I was sitting in a coffee shop, attempting (and failing) to read various articles for next week’s work, when I happened to glance up at those around me. Directly in front of the table was a medium-tall young man, with medium length, blonde hair, who was jigging, miming words, and stamping his foot surreptitiously. He was smartly dressed, a suit and conservative looking tie. However, my gaydar twinged slightly at his movements, and his smiling dance was so infectious, that I soon found myself smiling too. I saw a mixture of reactions; some stepped away awkwardly, some glared, others attempted to ignore. The man simply didn’t care. He knew that beyond the music of his headphones was a world of vague and undefined condemnation of such strange practices as a grown, suited man dancing in the queue of a coffee shop, but for him, that didn’t matter. I need to learn to live despite people’s judgements, and not be controlled or suppressed by them.
I am repeatedly shocked by the views of many of the people I am surrounded by here, namely due to my living in a very conservative area. My roommate freely expresses condemnation, and despite professing adamantly to not being a homophobe, these tendencies are clear. She judges and justifies her faith via her judgements, and life for her is simply black and white. Repeatedly, she has told me that she does not have the right to judge who goes to hell, but only is certain of her place in heaven, along with all those who believe in the traditional image of Jesus Christ. To be honest, I shudder at that heaven. However, I also fear her vision of hell, and fear ending up there, despite not actually believing in such a place. Rather, it is the hell that she has created and in which I have been placed that I fear - I do not wish to be condemned to even one person’s eternal damnation, within her heart. That is not fair, just or merciful. I fear her. So I have moved to have my own space - unfortunately, pettiness has ensued. I honestly believe that I am not at fault, but long story short, I feel judged, damned and she simply wishes all elements that infer my previous presence removed, despite their cost. That hurts, more than I can say.
Tonight was also interesting - a religious book meeting I attended that is normally intensely provocative and rewarding, left me feeling cold. I am simply feeling stressed from this whole roommate issue, and some of the other battles of life. The topic of conversation turned to how we can effect change in our world and I expressed the difficulties I had had volunteering for groups based here. I was reassured of people’s generosity and open-heartedness, and welcomed to at least two voluntary groups within ten minutes.
But there was one surprise I had not expected. After the meeting, I was approached by an elderly gentleman, Doug. He asked me what I studied, and where - I answered him simply and honestly. At this point, he knew these answers, my name, a love for volunteering and an interest in trauma studies. He then asked me if I was considering ministry. Very curt, very short, very kindly spoken.
“Are you considering ministry?”
Such a simple question, and I have no idea how to reply. At the time, I said that I had not really considered it as a viable option up till now, and that I had to consider such questions further when the need arose. But here was a stranger, who knew so little about me, and yet saw something that caused him to ask that question. I didn’t think about the impact of this tiny question when I spoke, but now, I wonder what caused him to ask. Our elders often have wise words and vivacious advice to give - what did he see? There was another man in the coffee shop today who was speaking with a deaf elderly lady, who, he told me, was the wisest person he knew. If only I could see my choices with wide eyes, and see what lies ahead on the road of life.
I think at the moment, my answer to this four word question is… “Yes”. I am terrified, but overjoyed that someone might have seen enough in me, even as a stranger, to acknowledge that I might actually have a home as a minister within a church community. That I might have a gift for surrounding others with a sense of faith, in whichever form that may appear to them.
I feel blessed and valued by the strangers of this world, and judged by those closer by. How am I to understand that?