Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Church, A Proposition, A New President, and A Baby

My beautiful wife and child

I became a member of a church today, standing in front of a crowded sanctuary full of mostly unfamiliar but kind and welcoming faces. The sleeping baby in my arms was the only thing that held the dam of tears at bay. Tears of grief and tears of relief, welling up from my heart, mingled together behind my eyes. For the first time in a decade, I joined a church as the wife, the mom. Those are my titles, my first impressions in this congregation. Not pastor, not teacher, not leader. Standing there this morning, Abby in my arms and Shannon’s loving hand on my back, was the final letting go of what has been. It also means there may just be space to move forward, enough release to see what is next for me, where God is leading on this winding road of following. Grief at losing what has been; relief for the push to move ahead.

Proposition 8 passed in California. It made the news here, of course, but not in huge ways and certainly not on the front page. There was no big outcry of anger outside of our living room that we could hear. I didn’t sleep, obsessively checking the Chronicle for results through the night. It was pretty clear by morning that a slim – but enough -- majority of California voters were determined to take away the rights of some of their fellow citizens. Why does it matter to me now, people have asked. North Carolina doesn’t recognize our California marriage license anyway. But it does matter. We took those legal vows in front of the County of Santa Cruz, friends and strangers, in a room overflowing with hope and joy and love. It matters a great deal that Prop 8 passed, saying that no more people ‘like us’ should experience that kind of hope and love and joy. The entire state should be completely outraged and embarrassed. And I wonder what I could have done more of while I was there, and even here from the other coast. I wonder why there wasn’t more outrage before November 4, why wasn’t I more outraged when the whole process began months and months ago to get Prop 8 on the ballot? I should have been mad a year ago, instead of assuming others would be and that there’d be no way such an insidious ballot measure could possibly garner enough votes. There are, of course, lawsuits and vigils happening all over California. It’s not over. Separate but equal will not rule the day, not in the end. Those lawsuits and vigils are beginning to happen in other places, too. And someday, even, our marriage license will even matter here in our home state. It took me a day or so to remember that I believe in the resurrection: the impossible happening against all odds.

Barack Obama stood in Grant Park at midnight Tuesday, and I know more than one person in the crowd of many colors that gathered also believes in the resurrection. It is no small feat to overcome prejudice of any kind, and certainly not the deep-seeded racism that is still found in far more places than most of our country wants to admit. Was this election about more than race? Absolutely. It was about change and hope and the need for certainty that there can be a new day in the United States of America. Will Obama be able to deliver on all his promises? Not a chance. Does the Democratic party have the magic keys to this new day? Not by a long shot. I’ll admit, though, that I do feel more hopeful than I have in several years about how the citizens of the U.S. might reach across the aisle, or around the corner, or even across the table and care just a little more about each other. There’s been a huge shift in this election, and I’m daring to hope it’s a shift toward one another, a move to come closer to true community.

And the baby. Abigail: our nearly 6-week-old daughter who’s sleeping right now, as is her other very tired mom. Everyday, at some moment or another, I’m still in wonder that the hospital let us take her home. She’s beautiful (I know I’m biased, but she really is), and does something new everyday. The Sunday evening before she was born, I cooked Shannon’s favorite dinner, knowing there wouldn’t be too many more days before our child came into the world. She finished those leftovers a week later, watching Abby sleep. Last time I wrote a blog entry, I was waiting. Waiting for her, waiting for God to make it crystal clear what my life here will look like without a robe and stole. Sitting in the present moment is my greatest challenge, always. And I’m still waiting.

But now I’m waiting for Abby to wake up, enjoying the sound of her breathing and her tiny hands waving around every once in awhile while she sleeps. I’m more tired than I’ve ever been, and Shannon even more so since she’s the one providing the food every few hours. It’s been a more than full 6 weeks. And I wouldn’t trade a minute. The name Abigail means joy. And every time I look at her, I remember that new life is sometimes a long time coming. I remember that new life explodes into the world in the midst of chaos, and even pain beyond measure. I remember that I believe in the resurrection. I believe in Jesus’ resurrection, in all its mystery and hope, and I believe in the big and small ways new life comes everyday. Abby reminds me when I forget. So does her other mom. And tonight I remember that my cup overflows, and am sitting in gratitude.


Rebecca L said...

This is very beautiful, Heather. I hope it will convince you to blog more often. You are going through some huge transitions. Maybe writing can help you figure it all out. Meanwhile, the rest of us enjoy witnessing the journey...

Hang in there!

Franzi said...

I wish I could reach over there and give you a big hug. There's so much to process, and you are making a great effort to define your present, and be in it. Peace to you my friend.

welcomingchurch said...

What a beautiful blog Heather. Andy was playing the piano--a beautiful song while I sat reading this after a very long day at work. Your writing has brought much peace into my evening. I miss you and Shannon dearly! Kristen

Rachel said...

hey friend - thanks for blogging. Reading it was like having you right down the street to talk to again! Keep sending those thoughts - they are beautiful.

lots of love to you three

Heather D said...

Lovely, and so heartfelt. I'm so glad you in my life, so glad you are parenting, so glad you are MARRIED, and mostly just glad that you ARE.

HD (the other one) :o)

Anonymous said...

lovely. Just lovely.