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Waves of Great Change Are Always Moving Us Toward Love
“There’s a river of my people. And its flow is swift and strong.” —Pete Seeger
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” —Socrates
When I recently attended the Indiana House of Representatives Hearing on HJR-3 (the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana), I discovered something I hadn’t expected. I learned that people who lovingly support a cause (or oppose a cause) likely do not fully grasp what it’s like for the individuals who are living the issue, day in and day out—for 50 years or more in some cases.
That insight hit me as I was standing near friends and the House voted to delete one sentence banning civil unions from the proposed amendment. It was an important partial victory for those in attendance. The next thing that happened surprised me. A close friend began sobbing, a body-racking, heart-felt release welling up and pouring out from a place deep within. It was humbling to witness her vulnerability and raw, uncensored human emotion. It was as though she had been holding her breath, sealed off tight in a protected vault somewhere, and someone had finally told her it was safe to breathe.
I am legally married with two daughters. I came to the House debate and vote to support friends and family members in the LGBT community. But I realized something important during those moments of celebration: I don’t know what it feels like to have parents who refuse to accept who I am or a family who does not love or support my partner; I don’t know what it feels like to love my church and love God and then get kicked out of my religion for being who I am; I don’t know what it feels like to drive or walk though a town where a gay man was beaten, chained to a fence, and then left to die; I don’t know what it feels like to hear people arguing about my legal rights as though I am not as worthy as other individuals or as though I have sinned against God just for loving who I love; I don’t know what it feels like to hide who I am for fear of rejection or to face scorn and condemnation when I’m unable to hide; and I don’t know what it feels like to be alienated from family members who harshly judge me or who cannot fully accept me for who I am.
I don’t know what it’s like to live that life.
I also don’t know what it’s like to live as a racial minority who carries ancestral scars of slavery and lynchings. I don’t know what it means to watch President Obama and his family walk into the White House, and for the first time in American history, obtain true representation in the highest office of the United States Government. I also don’t know what it’s like to be Jewish or Native American or Hispanic or an immigrant living in this country.
But I understand better now, after holding my friend while she sobbed, that my friends are harboring deep wounds and that healing is desperately needed—in our families, in our political system, in our media, in our culture, and in our country. To quote Nelson Mandela: “The time for healing of the wounds has come . . . for the birth of a new world.”
Where do we begin?
In Buddhism it is said that Right Understanding is needed for Right Action. Right Understanding begins with the ability to listen, with compassion.
Rather than arguing, fighting, or judging, what would it be like to invite a gay couple into your home for dinner? Not to preach or explain your views; but rather, simply to learn by listening. Perhaps you could invite your LGBT son, daughter, neighbor, parent, grandparent, uncle, aunt, sister, brother, or cousin over for a chance to get to know them a little better. Ask them to tell you their stories—their joys and sorrows. Ask them what wounds need healing. Listen from your heart. It all begins there.
We don’t need a law or a book or a specific religion to learn how to love. We just need to open our hearts . . . a bit wider.
In joy & gratitude,
Diana J. Ensign
Thank you Diana. So much.
ohhh my thank you Diana
Diana, you may remember the same thing happened when our former church voted over a decade ago on whether or not to become a Welcoming Congregation. It’s a heck of a thing to put to a vote whether or not you and your family are welcome at your own church. We had done a lot of groundwork to prepare for that and chances were it would pass overwhelmingly (which it did) but the moments leading up to the vote were incredibly intense and the emotional release afterward was just as surprising and ultimately very healing.
It reminds me of something the Rev. Meg Riley posted in response to an affirming statement President Obama made for LGBT equality. She said when she heard those words coming from a sitting US president, places deep inside of her that she didn’t even know were broken, started to heal.
Every time we inch toward full recognition, another place deep inside begins to heal. Thank you SO much for being there to hold me together while I cracked open a bit last Monday and let another place inside start to heal.
Namaste, my friend.
We are a long way from tasting the victory described in the article below, but I wanted to post it for inspiration. Folks, the struggle for equality is good. It’s based in love. It is worthy of our time and attention. And victory is sweet. Read the Rev. Meg Riley’s reflection after the victory to defeat the constitutional amendment in her state of Minnesota: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-meg-riley/on-tuesday-minnesota-voted-on-my-family_b_2096002.html
Thank you Jenni, Eric, and Lori for sharing your lives with me..it’s an honor! I learn so much from the people in my life…and am learning still.
Lori: That is a great article by Rev. Meg Riley. Thank you for sharing the link.
LOVE & hugs ~
Thanks for your beautiful reflections, Diana. Liz, Grace, and I were at the Statehouse this past Tuesday making our presence known, and Trinity Church (along with Bishop Waynick and many other Episcopal congregations in the area) have expressed our opposition to HJR-3 in no uncertain terms.
As always, you make compelling suggestions. I must admit, I have mixed feelings about what is happening at the state house. I want full marriage equality for all of God’s people…maybe it would have been better if the Indiana House would have left the sentence in, and thus, empowered more people to vote against this amendment, but then again, I’m not much of a political strategist! Blessings to you!
Thank you Tom. How wonderful that you and LIz took Grace! I’ll have to stop by the Trinity Church sometime and say hello! I know people REALLY appreciate all the Interfaith support from the Indiana community standing against HJR-3!
Charlie: Thanks for your comments. HJR-3 needs to go away…no doubt about that!! One empowering thing people can do is contact your Indiana Senators and urge them to reject HJR-3.
For things people can do NOW to help, check out Freedom Indiana at: freedomindiana.org
I am very proud of Diana, and to be her husband! 🙂 ~Dave
Diana, I applaud you and your work. Thanks for sharing your love!
Dave & Rexene: Thank you! Receiving support and love for what I do makes me realize how important it is to support folks we love and speak up for them when they are hurting.
I am so grateful–and honored–to have such quality, loving, intelligent, fun, caring friends in my life. ‘Gay or Straight’ isn’t the issue when it comes to human dignity and worth. And I don’t believe when people die God is going to be asking: ‘Are you straight or gay?’ I’m guessing the questions might go a bit deeper into how one lived out love with others while here.
not sure how I miss this when you posted it. Glad I found out tonight.
Thanks Eric. Glad you found it! : )