Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Can There Be Miracles?

Making our bed on a Sunday morning, I was pondering this question while listening to the Mariah Carey song on our CD player. I recalled my Old Testament class professor saying that there were two main periods of miracles: one in the time of Moses and one in the time of Jesus. It made me sad to hear that because it meant that the time of miracles is over.

Obviously because of Christmas and my new nephew's birth, I was marveling how miraculous birth really is. In a way, miracles like birth and new life mean hope for us. Hope that things can be different than they are. A new dawn. A fresh new year in which to live.

Prior to this, I had been feeling in need of spiritual rebirth. I didn't feel like I was growing at all. Remembering a wall-hanging my Great-Aunt had on her wall ("If it feels like God is far away, guess who moved?"), I decided to go to church without my partner. Since he wasn't coming with me, I decided to try the Metropolitan Community Church.

Previously, I had tried to go to an MCC service when I was living in Kansas. I planned it all out and drove half an hour into the city of Wichita. Unfortunately they were on summer hours so when I arrived, the service wasn't being held at all! This time around I was more successful after a very brief streetcar ride down College & Gerrard Streets. I was amazed to find myself in a beautiful old church with a U-shaped wood balcony, filled to capacity.

Many things stand out to me about that first service. One memory is of the special music. This woman sang "Feels Like Home." I had never heard this song before and, put in a religious context, all the efforts to restain my tears since the start of the service, failed me miserably. Especially the final line, "It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong." Torrents of tears.

The second memory was a line from the sermon that Rev. Hawkes gave. He held up the Bible and said something about how many people have been hurt by the words inside this book and have chosen to have nothing to do with it or what it says. He said that this was a tragedy since there were so many good lessons we could get from it. An example he pointed out was the story of Jesus walking on water. To a fundamentalist, this would merely be a story about how Jesus had authority over even Nature. But to Rev. Hawkes, it illustrated how miracles don't happen while you are still in the boat. It's only when you take a risk and step out of your comfort zone, that's when God starts to do amazing things with your life.

That's when I realized (in an admittedly hokey way) that my whole life, up to this point, has been a miracle. My parents tried for five years to conceive me and then, on a single income from a small rural parish, somehow managed to feed and clothe me. Through work and scholarships I graduated from university owing only $5K in student loans (which were forgiven by the government by teaching in a low-income school district). I traveled the world and have many incredible friends. Coming to terms with my sexuality, I had strong family support without which I would have been like many other GBLT people who suffer great emotional trauma. Against the odds, my partner and I were able to immigrate to a country that offers us equal protection under the law.

Reflecting on this journey and facing the year ahead, I'm reminded of a song by the duo "Mary Mary." I just can't give up now. I've come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy and I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me.

Last Sunday I returned to the same church and ended up registering for the membership class. And on this visit, I remembered to pack the travel tissues!


sassiekiwi said...

Mmm ... thoughtful post Dan. Thanks. I have been feeling quite dry spiritually. I guess in Korea I have given up on finding a church home. I have learnt to dig my own wells but am still finding myself in a place at the moment where I feel like I need to stop and start afresh with God and I. Good to see you finding a "home'.

I also like that your life is a miracle. It is. Each of our lives is but all too often we don't see it or acknowledge it. Thanks for sharing.

Jolie said...

I think it's a miracle that we were blessed with two Danifesto posts in two days. I might toss around the word miracle a bit too easily (as you know), but when something good happens unexpectedly, I call it a miracle. Granted these aren't the walking on water miracles, but labeling good fortune as such allows me to appreciate the moment more. It becomes special and important. We all need more of that in our lives.

I'm so happy that you have found a potential home church. I know how important this is for you. You have been looking for a long time. I could feel your joy when you emailed me about your experience. I would call that a miracle.

Connie said...

Good post. I know exactly the feeling that you describe, about finding a spiritual home. It took me 20-plus years, but I'm back in the denomination in which I was raised as a child, after a tearful experience much like you described. I feel so very much at home there. I don't feel like the other worshipers are judging my attire, my financial contributions, my hours of attendance or participation, etc.

I think it's a miracle of sorts that God waits patiently while we wander, seek and then try out different forms of spiritual homes. Like you said, it isn't God who wanders away from us, but like the prodigal son's father, God is there for us at the end of whichever road we travel.