I am sorry, I broke a connection with the usual monthly post. The thing called life took over and then we traveled in early December, where we noticed a theme of community. Now we are right here at the end of the year. Thank you for being here, I appreciate you and look forward to sharing some new things coming out in the near future.
In the seasons autumn and at the end of the year, it is a time of letting go of old and bringing in new. In our lives with saints and outcasts it may be a time to let go of past limitations that have been outdated social expectations. The acts of many saints and mystics took, was to move themselves to the outside, recognizing that until someone walks a similar path it is not understood. This action also is a removal from the material distractions that can create a feeling of scarcity. Not only the material distractions, but the socially constructed hierarchy that can create opposition with individuals or groups. Then if we think about it, that is the opposite of the abundance of love that God offers each of us. This love is without limitations or possibility of running out.
In the life experiences I have had, of both my own and in witness sitting with others, is that our childhood and youth often set the foundation for our future. For those of us as outcasts, whether that is or is perceived as different from society can set us apart, can include homelessness, addiction, being LGBTQ or any other traumatic life event. In that setting apart, we then have to find our own value, often in a world where it may be easy to see opposition more than abundant acceptance.
Our churches or spiritual homes, are often the first places where we can offer that place of acceptance, but sadly it is often the first place that exclusion is experienced. An important part of our spiritual communities is to be able to hear the needs of the members and participants, that make up a part of the whole church. In truth it is the marginalized groups or excluded individuals that can help know where we can become stronger as a whole.
One such organization, that goes to the fringes to say, “you are loved just as you are, do not let the hate destroy you” is The Naming Project. They recognize the need for marginalized LGBTQ youth to have representation in the spiritual home they provide with a camp. This is done through leaders with the ways they educate and uplift each participating youth.
It is often with LGBTQ youth and even adults, that are excused from their spiritual home. An action that may take years to overcome that betrayal, which often they first lose their birth homes and second in their spiritual home. There are a lot of lost sheep, that nobody went or goes to look for.
As we have shifted through autumn and now shifting out of a calendar year, may we look at how we can embrace, the purpose of religion and spirituality which is to bind us to something. The unfortunate reality is that we have chosen to live from a place of fear and scarcity within both, which has us binding together to fight against each other.
It is Jesus who flipped the tables in the temple calling out the hypocrites, because sacrifice was a thing of the past. It is now that I say the goal of donating to a place that reaches the spirituality of all, excluding nobody has been eye opening. I took a look at different organizations I support either through volunteering or donations, to see if anyone is excluded at their table.
The table is what The Simple Way, has done to reach people in need, in need of an community and of the Eucharist. I became familiar with The Simple Way after reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. This is an intentional community that meets the needs of a community that did not have a church, where there was a need for food, community and the Eucharist.
This community like Jesus went to the edge of Philadelphia, to start a community. They listened to meet the needs as best they could for each person. That is how a I have come to recognize the difference between including and affirming. Those on the fringes can be included, while affirming is taking it to the next level like The Naming Project and The Simple Way, through creating programs, camps, dialogue and resources for all of God’s Children.
As 2019, draws to a close, I am grateful for this opportunity to give to different organizations and learn more ways that people are helping one another. I do have to remind myself from time to time not to get hooked on the negative. That there is a lot of good in the world and I have to remember to be awake to notice. This year has done just that. I do plan to continue this giving into 2020, along with other things.
Where would you give that does not exclude anyone?