This was written as part of Vine & Fig’s Sunday Scripture reflection project.
When Jesus sent out his Twelve, He told them: “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.
Last week, a friend of ours in the Vine & Fig community asked me to proofread a letter. It was addressed to her parents, and it asked, in the calm voice of a young woman embracing adulthood, whether or not she and her female partner could count on the same respect, dignity, and love that she saw flow from her parents to her siblings and their partners. Our friend and her partner had just moved in together, and things had gotten serious enough that an introduction was in order, even for her huge anti-queer Catholic family.
The letter asked, and it did not barter.
“Oh, this is not the first draft,” she tells me after I compliment her vulnerability and bravery, “the first one was me basically begging to be loved.” From where I’m sitting, I can see that this isn’t the first time our friend has had to beg. Her father and mother never seemed to have gotten this whole queer thing. They’ve been waiting for “this phase” to end for years. In their household, there is simply no “love for the gays”. It took a conversation with our friend’s future mother-in-law to make her look at her parents with her eyes open a little wider.
“You don’t need your parents as much as you think you do” the woman had said.
I imagine our friend crawling out from under the rubble left by the type of guilt only a Catholic parent can channel. I imagine the many lives in our community, with varying degrees of urgency, transforming as we come to understand the difference between a hurt that grows from love and one that grows from neglect.
I imagine all of us building a home, knocking on doors to see who will help us share love the way we see it, and learning to shake the dust off our boots and moving right along, even if it requires making a whole family from scratch.