Friday, June 21, 2013

Out of the Closet with...the What?

There was this book that was going to be written, but never became reality.
Rev. Linda Calkins
The reality became a life, and that life is mine. The title was going to be “Out of the Closet With the Collar On”; but a number of years later, the closet no longer exists and the collar…well, it’s still there.

I had the privilege, really the existential trial, of coming out in my late 40’s. Not the best time in anyone’s life to announce a complete and radical divergence from the direction that already existed. Life had already been lived really well, but something, well, lots of things, were missing. An undercurrent of sadness had existed for years, a sense something was not quite what it should be, but what that was did not open itself to me until it all fell into place. And I thought, “Dear God, NO!!!” And God’s answer was “Dear Soul, YES!!!”

And in the midst of that complete overhaul, the Episcopal Church I loved was there, especially in the one person, a friend and colleague, who kept me safe in her care and in her offering of her time and counsel to me again and again. I went to a diocesan clergy gay and lesbian potluck, scared to death of what others might think. They had known me in the before; what would they think of me in the after? And I need not have worried one bit for there was love and protection and an offering of peace I didn’t expect.

We all have out ‘closets’ that we are afraid of coming out of. As the Gospel lesson for Proper 6 has shown us, Jesus dispels shame and offers forgiveness and love immeasurable. All we have to do is enter to where he is reclining, almost as if he were waiting for the woman with the alabaster jar to come and anoint his feet with tears and ointment. Jesus does wait for us to come in even though it’s very scary, even though we might think everyone knows our past. He does not care what happened in the past; his concern is this moment, this time, this present reality.

And that’s what we can offer each other, a present reality that is done with shame and that embraces kindness, forgiveness, tenderness and joy. A moment that says no matter what the person looks like, what or where the person has been, who the person is with, they are accepted for who they are. We all judge each other even when we think we don’t. And it’s high time to put that aside and invite the closet to be open and invite the person inside to come into light and life, into Jesus’ loving presence. For we all need that, no matter what your closet might look like.

Linda Calkins is the rector of St. Bartholomew's, Laytonsville. This blog is part of a Saturday series on LGBT and faith topics in honor of LGBT Pride Month. Share your thoughts and reactions on Facebook.