In trending news, the Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, has decided to (continue to) defy the Supreme Court in order to uphold “God’s definition of marriage…” I am assuming that she is not referring to God’s definition of marriage in both the First and the Second Testaments that allows men to have more than one wife. Or the one that insisted that men marry the widows of their brothers and get them with children so that their (dead) brothers would have heirs. Or God’s apparent approval of the two daughters of Lot lying with him after his wife turned into a pillar of salt, so that they could beget children who became the progenitors of great nations. (The last is presumably not ‘a marriage’ since there was no one (else) around to issue a license for it.)
I am breathing deeply. I am breathing deeply and slowly.
I am reminding myself that we tend not make decisions rationally, we tend to make decisions emotionally (see: Free-Thinking). Ms. Davis insists that her stand is “about marriage and God’s Word (sic)” which may seem a little ironic since Ms. Davis is on her fourth marriage following three divorces. As soon as I stop breathing deeply, I can hear the little voice in my head saying, “Okay, you want to quote the Bible, I’ll give you some Bible to quote!” And I want to march into the Rowan County Building, sit Ms. Davis down, give her a pad of paper and make her copy Matthew 7:1-3 one hundred times in long hand.
Which proves conclusively that I am deep in emotional territory.
So, I thought this might be a good time to ponder the work of harvesting patience. Almost everything I know about patience, I learned from my daughter. From being a mother to my beloved daughter. The congregations with which I have served over the last almost 30 years have all benefitted enormously from Philippa’s steady coaching. As has my husband, my extended family and my wide circle of friends. This coaching began while she was still in utero, in early preparations for her black belt in Tae Kwon Do (I didn’t realize this was what it was at the time…) It continued through all the ages and all the stages of childhood development, and it is still on-going in her young adulthood.
And what I have learned so far could be summed up in the words of the Buddhist peacebuilder, Daisaku Ikeda, ‘With love and patience, nothing is impossible.’
I have older ministerial colleagues who marched in Selma. And one, the Rev. James Reeb, who was killed there in 1965 – one hundred years after the end of the Civil War. And our black sisters and brothers were still being treated like non-humans. I lived through Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination. And I continue to live through re-entrenchment and backlash, then a few steps forward, and then Ferguson, MO. I worked on Barack Obama’s campaign and have resigned myself to him being called ‘our first Black President’ when, in point of fact, he is bi-racial. There is a long way still to go. There is chronos (calendar time) and there is kairos (divine time) and some arcs of movement require us to lean into kairos. Patience doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing, but it does mean steadfastly staying the course, and believing, and working for what I believe. And trying not to demonize the Birthers.
I graduated from high school less than a week before the Stonewall Riots in Manhattan. I attended more funerals than I want to remember for friends and theatre colleagues who died of AIDS before it really had a name. If you had asked me in 1969 or 1974 or 1981 if marriage equality would happen in my lifetime, I would have wondered what planet you came from. But I watched the country tip from a culture of silence to a culture of witness to a culture of acceptance. This does not mean that everyone has reached acceptance or that everyone ever will. Patience doesn’t mean I stop speaking or witnessing; rather, it means staying the course, and believing, and opening up conversations with people like Kim Davis.
Patience means not giving up on the vision even when it is invisible in the fog…any more than I gave up on Philippa voluntarily relinquishing her Nuk, or deciding she was ready for big girl panties, or learning to read, or memorizing the multiplication tables, or cleaning her room, or…
And so I invite you to gather your patience this week. You may find it as crumbs under the seat cushions, or in unexpected places (like gum on the bottom of a table), or in shattered shards on the floor. There is a famous pericope in which the disciples gather twelve baskets of the left-over pieces of the bread from the feeding of the multitudes. Those scraps have value. So does your patience – even in the smallest bits. Gather it (Yes, into your journal. Write it down so you can acknowledge it and feel gratitude and grace).
Remember how it carried you through a trying time.
Remember how it silenced words you would have regretted.
Remember how it kept you from acting without integrity.
Remember how it startled you into laughter at yourself and your foibles.
Remember how it gave you the stamina to start over, and over, and over.
Remember how it allowed you to let go and trust.
And here is a blessing on our memories and on our patience,
May we breathe in the limitless love of the universe.
May we breathe out confidence in renewing life.
May we breathe in the steadfast assurance of strong friends.
May we breathe out compassion
for those who consider themselves our enemies.
May we breathe in faith in the healing of all wounds.
May we breathe out non-judgment.
May we be patient now.
May we be patient here.
May it be so.
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015 Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: All three sets of Lughnasadh cards are up on the website Store [click here]. Two new pieces are up in my Etsy shop — one is a fiber art piece (‘Wholeness’) and one is a limited edition canvas print of ‘Matrix’. We are now in September. Only three weeks left for the Lughnasadh Give-Away and I have not received any names yet. Here are the instructions.