CW: Pulse shooting, grief
“The thing is,” my friend said recently, “Jesus can’t really help me with the way being human involves making mistakes. Because They never made any.”
But Jesus did die once, maybe twice, depending on who you say Jesus is. So They know something about death.
And then, approximately fifty people, mostly Puerto Ricans, were murdered by assault rifle in a shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Unlike Jesus, they do not have a promise of returning to us in this life.
But they do have the promise of remaining with us.
We remember the loss and the hate that brought it with clarity and we are immovable.
To the power of being human. We bear witness. To the beauty, the risk, and the glory of being queer, we bear witness. We are queer and we are gorgeous.
In one of Their most famous sermons, Jesus talked about all the ways humans are wonderful, and all the ways in which being connected with God and with Everything is splendid.
Splendid are those who grieve deeply over misfortunes: The more deeply they grieve, the stronger they become.
Splendid are the gentle: The world will be safe in their hands.
Splendid are those who have a passion for justice: They will get things done.
(Quick sidebar: I don’t share these words to say that everything happens for a reason. In fact, I believe that some things happen for no reason, as this shooting, but that as we make meaning of it, as we care for one another, the fruit of our sorrow grows and becomes evident. Strength as a possible fruit of grief makes sense to me, but do not worry or wonder if you are wrong if you can only grieve right now. The fruit is a possibility, not a requirement or a burden. Your grief is real. You are doing it right.)
Jesus went on to say this: You are like a lighthouse built to make travel safer in a dark world.
The response to the hate in the United States today, the willful misunderstanding is singular. It must be your love for each person you encounter. If you are queer, trans, bisexual, lesbian, gay, or another orientation for which you have a specific name or lived experience, it is your light that is the answer. You are the lighthouse, and you are the gift.
But, for now, let your grief be felt. Find the place in your body where your grief sits. Put your hand there in an act of tenderness and care. Drink cups of tea and cry with your friends. Write angry poems, songs, and letters. Use the fire inside you to turn up your beautiful light and destroy the darkness. Use your light to direct the next part of your journey. Use your grief as a tool for dismantling and creating if that gives you power and comfort.
Splendid are those who grieve deeply.
You know that sometimes people talk about wholehearted crying as an ugly cry. And Jesus, the One with their act together, also cried when Their friend died.
So, some people said, “It’s obvious that Jesus loved their friend deeply.”
Don’t get it twisted. When you tell the truth with your tears, it is beautiful. There aren’t so many easy answers, but there is love and comfort in Beloved Community. Let your grief bring you to being together with others.
Scripture quotations are from, Good as New: A Radical Retelling of the Scriptures by John Henson who has created in Good As New, a translation that confronts and unseats homophobia.