I finally got the videos of the ordination uploaded. They are embedded below. If you are still wanting to know more about the North American Old Catholic church, I really recommend you watch video three. Bishop Ben Evans offers a bit of really helpful history in his homily. He also responds to folks who say that the NAOCC isn't Catholic.
It's hard to put into words what my ordination into the diaconate of the North American Old Catholic Church means to me. There was a time when I wasn't sure that I was going to make it through any ordination process because of the cost, my trans* status, and my theology. And then along came the Old Catholics. We met on Twitter and it felt right from the start. And now here I am.
And I don't really have the words to say what all of this has meant to me. Maybe I don't need words. Instead I'll offer these photos and a video of the ordination as I continue to struggle to express my gratitude and awe over all of this.
Up first is a photo album of the event. These are casual photos taken by friends. Still waiting on the professional photos.
I had to split the ordination itself into several parts. The first couple videos are the processional and the actual ordination, the next several are the celebration of the Eucharist.
I've been having one of those weeks where I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself. You know those weeks: The ones where you feel invisible, like no one notices the work you do, like you're being constantly overlooked, like no one appreciates you. It feels as if I am constantly being silenced. (I didn't say it was pretty, just how I'm feeling.) I've been feeling frustrated and a little lonely.
Today Matisyahu released his newest album Spark Seeker. I was listening and heard this song. It was as if I could hear God saying, "I see you. Just keep doing the work." I'm trying to listen.
I hope if you're having one of those weeks this song is an encouragement to you as well.
Edited to add that the entire presentation is now live! Just scroll down!!
While at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference I had the wonderful opportunity to present a workshop with Joy Ladin and the Rev. Dr. Lynn Walker. It was called "Encountering Sacred Texts." I'll be uploading videos throughout this week from that panel (I'll continue to update this post so they are all on one place). Be sure to check out Joy's new book "Through the Door of Life" and her volumes of poetry. You can also check out the interview I did with her for the anarchist reverend podcast (in it she reads some of her poetry).
I unabashedly love Bruce Springsteen. He's got a new single out and I think it's wonderful. Take a listen, and really pay attention to the lyrics:
It's written as a lament. A story of the United States gone wrong. But I also read this as a tale of the church gone wrong. Toward the end of the song he sings:
Where the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where the hearts, that run over with mercy
Where's the love that has not forsaken me
Where's the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where's the spirit that'll reign, reign over me
Where's the promise, from sea to shining sea
Where's the promise, from sea to shining sea
Isn't that the church's job? Isn't that what we're supposed to be about? Where are our hearts running over with mercy? Where is our message of the love that won't ever forsake? Why aren't we giving people work that will set their hands and their souls free? This is what it's supposed to be about.
This is the kind of community I want to be a part of. This is what I want to be creating in my own life and in the lives of others. But I want it to be even bigger than the song: Not just taking care of our own, but taking care of everyone.
But I guess in some ways that is the call of the Gospel, realizing that everyone is our own.
I've been listening to my friend Antje Duvekot's new album this week. It's called New Siberia and it's amazing (as usual). One of the songs on the album struck me this morning as I was waiting for my bus. The song is called "Glamorous Girls." It's not meant to be a trans* song, but there was something about it that spoke to my feelings of alienation as a kid and I wanted to share it with you:
The line: "But you will find a place in the sun. You'll be shining when the time comes. And if you knew this you wouldn't trade it for the world; for any of those glamorous girls." It's so true.
I wouldn't trade this life I am currently living for anything in the world.
(this is the second in a series of posts on the Wild Goose Festival. The first part can be found here.)
I love Over the Rhine. They are one of my all-time favorite bands. Their music is beautiful, thoughtful, and profound. They are amazing live performers; excellent musicians, flawless bands, soul and heart, everything you could want in a performance. I was so excited about getting to see them play again at the festival.
I have seen them play over the years, but each time they haven't signed autographs so I had never gotten to meet them. And I wanted to. Not because I'm a fanboy (although I totally am), but to apologize. So when I heard they were signing at the festival I went and got myself in line. And this is what I told them:
"You probably don't remember this, but I was introduced to your music when my college uninvited you from playing a show at our school." They asked what school and when I told them, to my shock, they remembered the incident well. There was a photo within the liner notes: The photo in the liner notes was black and white. It's a statue in the Musee D'Orsay. It was this photo that got them uninvited.
I continued: "I've always wanted to apologize to you for my school's actions. I know that I don't have to apologize for them, but it's always bothered me." They then officially forgave my school and we all chuckled.
I told them that I was a transgender man who survived that school. That when my school uninvited them I had a small epiphany: If we're uninviting someone over something so ridiculous, going back on an invitation because of something so innocuous, what else is happening here that is wrong? It was a chink in the armor; it was another moment of doubt about the way I had been living.
It also introduced me to a group who would help to spiritually sustain me for years to come. They would walk with me through the pain of leaving my church, leaving my community, leaving my marriage. They would bring me Jesus when I couldn't go to him myself. I would listen to this song and feel like maybe they were speaking the truth, even though it didn't feel at all like everything was going to be all right: Such was the power of their music.
It was healing to finally be able to tell them this story, to thank them for their influence on my life. It was powerful to be seeing them in the context of a Christian event; powerful to be seeing them with me standing there as my authentic self.
Over the Rhine and Jennifer Knapp are both bridges for me, bridging my life from my fundamentalist days to where I am now. Jennifer was one of the only (possibly THE only) Christian musician that I was able to listen to after I came out and once I began transition. Every time I reached for my guitar I would play one of her songs. There was something in her that reached out to the very deepest places in me.
I quit listening to Christian music around the same time she dropped out of the scene. I hadn't heard the rumors about her sexuality, honestly I didn't even really know she had quit playing. I was shocked and excited when she came out a year ago. Excited that she was going to change conversations simply by being herself.
I had the honor of interviewing Jennifer this weekend (look for that in a couple of parts later as I manage to get things edited) and she is thoughtful, kind, and talented. I didn't get to tell her about the impact her music made on my life, but maybe she'll read my words here.
It was healing to be able to listen to her show in the context of this space. Another bridging moment causing me to feel like I was in the right place at the right time. Helping me to come back to myself just a little bit more and to reconcile the disparate parts of my journey. She recorded an "It Gets Better" video from the stage and I was so choked up that I couldn't even join in with the crowd as they shouted out. It was a moving moment. She asked for the crowd's permission before she recorded. There were conversations throughout the weekend that were fraught with tension around the issues of queer inclusion and yet in this moment the crowd was on board and willing to say those words. It was powerful.
I am thankful for her presence at the festival, thankful for her witness and her artistry. I am so thankful for her new music which is reaching me yet again.