Posted January 10, 2014 by Marg Herder
This post is part of my series on the 2014 Gay Christian Network conference. EEWC-Christian Feminism Today is partnering with GCN to present GCN’s 2014 weconnect Women’s Retreat. Complete information on the conference can be found here. My introduction to the conference and the weconnect Women’s Retreat can be found here.
I’m going to be crying a lot this weekend.
Lisa, my partner, taught me to cry. For years, I was a trying-to-be-butch lesbian who somehow equated toughness with coolness. So I tried hard to never cry in front of people.
That all went out the window when I started hanging around with Lisa.
Lisa cries all the time. I don’t mean that she’s constantly unhappy. Her tears are most often empathetic or spiritual. Lisa cries at the tender stories people sometimes tell on TV; she cries at movies; she cries watching those Budweiser commercials with the horses; she cries when she sees dogs and cats in shelters; she cries when she says hard truths; she cries when someone sitting with her says something beautiful; she cries when I tell her I love her, or when everything lines up and she can feel how important and astounding this one life is.
When you live with someone that close to the emotional experience of being here, it draws you in.
I used to be able to ignore the affective undercurrents swirling around me. Just never paid attention. Went on living my task-oriented life. But once I got around Lisa, who is always aware of how life tugs on her heart, I started noticing how my own body responded to the same situations.
There are Christians who talk about the Gift of Tears. They say that the Holy Presence comes upon you, fills you up to overflowing, and the excess spills out of your eyes. I love this concept.
Earth-based religions equate water with emotion. I suspect tears inform this equation in some way.
After just a few years with Lisa, I realized there was nothing real or attractive about being someone who was so “strong” that they never cried. Given clarity, I chose to stop ignoring the gentle river that flows around and through my heart, and I now find a great deal of comfort in letting my body move within that flow. I have learned to surrender to the tears, whenever they come.
My Gay Christian Network conference experience began on the drive to Chicago.
I listened to Seal’s music on my car stereo, a little louder than most people might, and thought about what this weekend could be for me. As I imagined myself in community with several hundred gay Christians and their allies, I could feel a pull of deep emotion. I reflected on my own struggles with Christianity, and imagined how this was related to the struggles of each of the people attending the conference. I remembered the loss of what I thought my life would be when I came out and no longer felt welcome at my church. I thought about the years of being wounded by unkind words and thoughtless actions of people proclaiming that the injury inflicted on me was the will of God. I considered the careless way equal protection under the law has been denied me for fifty-two years.
I cried. I cried for me and I cried for everyone I was going to meet. I asked Divinity to be present with all of us as we sought and found a way through our pain and longing to reconnect with Her love. Not just Her love for us, but Her love for everyone, especially those who cause our pain.
After I arrived at the hotel, a wonderful bellman named Allen showed me to my room. As we chatted on the way up in the elevator, I recognized in him a kindness that didn’t come from a need to please or a desire for a tip. I felt that Allen’s kindness came from a belief in his own sacred practice of living with love. Kindness is one of the ways we prove to ourselves, every day, that life is a holy undertaking. Allen reminded me that each of us can find a way, in every moment, to be and create love in the body we are given, in the life we are leading.
And yeah, I cried again.
Related Content on Where She Is:
And There Was Singing (Sunday)
Rachel Held Evans’ Presentation Summary (Saturday)
We are Broken (Friday)
weconnect – Introduction to GCN Board Chairperson Susan Shopland
weconnect – Interview with Susan Shopland, Part 1
weconnect – Interview with Susan Shopland, Part 2
weconnect – Introduction to Featured Speaker Reverend Audrey Connor
weconnect – Interview with Audrey Connor, Part 1
weconnect – Interview with Audrey Connor, Part 2
weconnect – Interview with Audrey Connor, Part 3
Introduction to the Gay Christian Network’s weconnect Women’s Retreat