It has been so long, I’m not sure I remember how to do this blogging thing. Once upon a time I wrote frequently and furiously about being queer and Christian in America. I got to speak about my experiences at a few gatherings, including a few Wild Goose summers and a small Pride in Chattanooga. My calling also took the shape of leading online communities of faith, from planting a progressive Christian congregation in Second Life to co-leading the United Church of Christ’s online church, Extravagance and finally hosting weekly spiritual practices online with Thin Places. Through all of these experiences my own faith ebbed and flowed like the seasons of our earth: sometimes lush and warm like early summer in my beloved south, often stifling and unbearable like later in those same summers, occasionally as a delightful cacophony of autumnal colors and more frequently than I like to admit, like a steely winter, hard and bleak just before the peeping hope of a pale purple crocus strain through the frozen ground of disillusionment and disgust.
And now I am here, a southern gal of a certain age living in The Netherlands with my wife, A Couple A’Broads. Things are so different here – language, culture, commerce, healthcare (thank the Lord, the healthcare!) the weather (good Lord, the weather!) and of course religion. I had hoped to gain perspective that would engender a new appreciation for my life back in the States. I truly imagined time and distance would foster a renewed fondness for my country. Instead it’s dawning on me that for the 40+ years of my American life I was in perpetual culture shock – by my own culture. Never truly fitting in with extreme capitalism, rampant racism, celebrated misogyny and fear based, monetized religion, I see now I was constantly trying to create a flourishing life of faith in patches of fallow soil. Where my heart and soul did take root were in temporary, counter-cultural spaces like Wild Goose and Intersections and at a little congregation in Atlanta called Kirkwood UCC. These are places where people of all walks of life are truly welcomed into sacred spaces where they can experience, if just for a moment, a possible Realm of radical grace and peace. But these are the exception and not the rule, eh?
So in the largely secular world where I’m now setting down roots, I find a few contradictory thoughts and feelings nipping at my soul.
– When I look back across the pond at American Christianity, it looks both small and monstrous. Monstrous in the carnage of hearts, minds and bodies. And it is so small in it’s navel-gazing inability to see each other or outside of America without fear and loathing. As I said before, there are indeed many manifestations of good, compassionate communities of faith who seem to be cooperating tirelessly with the God of love to bend the arch of the universe toward justice. It just seems like they are fewer and further between the muck and mire.
– I find that the further away I travel from the centrifugal force of the American mindset, the more I long for simple spiritual practices in community with others. I am drawn ever more toward Celtic spirituality. More on this later as this path continues to unfold before me.
– I still feel the call to facilitate opportunities to gather, either online or in local Leiden pubs, with people of faith. The still small voice continues to call me even though I have tried to stuff devilishly delicious Stroopwafle in my ears. I need to be with others who are inclined to explore, share and care for one another as we try to better understand our relationships with the created world and Whoever we understand God to be.
So this is why I’m here – to relearn how to do this with the folks at Intersections, faithful folks who have huge hearts that seem to be hungry for truer, deeper and wider expressions of our love for one another and Jesus. I hope some of y’all will come along for the journey so we can guide one another through this crazy thing called faith.