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Joy in the Mourning

This morning I saw a headline saying Marjorie Taylor Greene has been appointed Speaker Pro Tempore of the House of Representatives. This was the latest in a line of events over the last few weeks that have made my eyes roll, my stomach turn, and my anxiety about the future of this country rise. My heart hurts a lot these days. There is so much pain and fear. So much grief.

An older lesbian friend was sharing that they are afraid to be out in public with the rise in hate toward the LGBTQIA+ community. They shared that it felt very familiar and so sad all at the same time. They won't go to bars or openly queer spaces because of the spate of mass shootings over the past few years. A Trans friend was commenting that they are considering going back in the closet, so they don't have to be a target in public. Those who transition later in life don't have the opportunity to avoid some of the physical milestones that solidify the maleness or femaleness of their birth gender, which is why gender affirming care for young people matters so much.

Listening to a re-broadcast of The Takeaway, an NPR show hosted by Mellissa Harris Perry, on aging while queer was another reminder that those of us in the LGBTQIA+ community are not just targets at bars or in schools, but that our elders receive the worst treatment when they need home healthcare, supportive living, or skilled nursing care the most. I think about our LGBTQIA+ elders and how they have struggled to maintain dignity as they age here in Salem. Are there any homes specifically for queer elders? Is there any education and support for our elder care agencies so they can bring compassionate care to our aging queer family members?

From the criminalization of Drag in Kentucky and other states to the full-on fascist ideology of Ron Desantis, we are facing a period of danger in this country, and the world, that so many people who study authoritarianism have been warning about for quite some time. It is a move to ban, cancel and eliminate anyone that doesn't conform to the ideology and worldview of the authoritarians who are ascendant. This is an old playbook and one I never thought would be playing out here in the USA.

From school boards to the senate, White Christian Nationalism is seeking to take control of the US. It comes under the guise of "freedom" and "patriotism" as well as "parental rights", but these are Trojan Horses used by powerful people to convince our neighbors to do things that, on their own, they would never do. Those decrying the loss of parental rights when it comes to banning books are the same people seeking to deny the parental rights of parents whose kids are gender nonconforming and trans. Those who scream that their religious liberty is under assault are the same ones who wish to make a certain kind of Christianity the national religion. Those who believe teaching history should be "unbiased" are the ones who are ok with scrubbing people, events and entire communities from the record because it doesn't conform to the narrative they want to hold as the "truth".

The wear on my Spirit these days is palpable. I find myself mourning the advances that we, as a society, have made over the last 50+ years. I grieve the loss of civility, decorum and basic common sense in our legislative systems. I grieve our common understanding of the past and the loss of "third spaces" where we, as communities, gathered despite our differences. I grieve that so many people feel they are under siege by "them", anyone not in their social media/news/age/culture bubble. I grieve....

And yet, there is so much to celebrate if we just look!! Did you hear the story about the kids who wanted their differently-abled classmates to join them on the playground, so they raised over a million dollars to make their school playground completely accessible? Did you hear about the Florida church that is teaching the AP Black History Class that Desantis banned? And on a very personal level, have you seen the daffodils blooming, the songbirds in your neighborhood, rainbows between the sun and rain?

To live in a world where there is so much to grieve means we MUST seek out the places where joy exists, waiting for us to tap into it. We must stop and listen to the streams gurgling. We must feel the rain on our faces. We must celebrate the smiles, the laughter, the opportunities to serve, the moments of grace that happen in our lives. And we must notice when those around us are unable, for whatever reason, to find joy in their lives. We need to help each other remember that, as the Psalmist writes, "Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning."

Being there with each other is the way we remain "woven together in love." When was the last time you spoke to your neighbor, a friend who moved away, someone across the political divide? When we can see and remember the humanity in the people we find most abhorrent (Marjorie Taylor Greene?), holding our mourning and joy side by side, we can be Christ-like for a world so in need. Jesus reminds us that it is easy to love our friends. It is when we can love and show kindness and compassion to our enemies that we invite joy between us to bloom with a riot of color!

So, mourn what is happening AND seek the joy that is there as well. This is the meaning of resurrection.

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