Last Saturday, I stumbled upon a new documentary, "Wish Me Away", about country singer Chely Wright, and her process of accepting her sexuality and publicly coming out as a lesbian. What I watched, however, was the story of a woman denying grace for so many years, until she finally recognized that the Incarnation dwelt within her all along. Is that not the task set before each of us in this season of Advent?
"You are my child. More than that, you are myself. We are one, linked forever. What you feel, I feel. What I know, you know. We are love incarnate. We are life."
The Church has long taught that God became human, so that we could become God. But I say that Jesus came to open our eyes to a divinity that already coursed through our very souls. That awakening is what we should be preparing for this Advent, for it is the gift our family needs most this Christmas. The many ways we abuse our siblings, as I have written about the last few weeks, certainly testify to that.
Perhaps the depth of this need is why I was so powerfully moved by Wright's film. Her story begins with a childhood prayer that becomes a daily mantra asking God to take away her gayness. Such pleading led her where it leads too many of our brothers and sisters, to put a gun in her mouth. But then she makes one last prayer, for peace, and finally hears what God has been whispering to her all along: that she's already exactly who they created her to be. And she knows she has an obligation to speak this truth, to share it with all her siblings who still have their fingers on a trigger.
Wright's truth is this: homosexuality is not a "deep wound" needing to be cured; it is a beautiful part of God's design that demands to be embraced. Her witness is evidence of what I tried to convey last June in "The Gift of Homosexuality" post, that our LGBT siblings have much to teach us about love. The most important lesson of which flows from the Incarnation: love trumps biology and everything else.
There is also in Wright's story a general reminder for all. Her childhood prayer did not spring up out of nowhere; it had a source. Corporate religion loves wounds; they keep its version of a hospital in business. Unfortunately, that means it often inflicts the very damage it claims to heal. Is there one among us who hasn't suffered from friendly fire? But that is why God became one of us, so that we might be able to see the difference between our rules and their truth, and to know what really harms our family. That is the grace, the peace, that we wait for so longingly during this time of Advent.
"We are the song of life, of love, of a mother and father who made us by sheer force of will. So much of life is a paradox, but it is there that we find God the most. It is there, in the confusion and that mess that we must dwell. It is there that we experience true beauty, true joy. It is there that we can see something wonderful, something that sends a chill down our spine, and puts a smile on our face and a laugh in our heart, where we know with certainty who and what we are and why we are here in this time and place. It is in that moment that we are at peace."