The Passion of the Lady Novelist from Newark
Her Friday, June 16 entry is a masterpiece of melodrama and snivelling self-pity, as she walks through the Valley of the Shadow of Death carrying the sorrows of the world on her back.
I should be in bed right now. I promised myself I would go to bed early and get some sleep. I’ve been averaging about 3-4 hours per night. I know I’ve got to pace myself through these next few days. Every time I lay down and try to rest my body, my mind becomes a whir of thoughts and my heart becomes flooded with emotion.It was a dark and stormy night.
So, I got up. And, I started to write.My dearest Isabella will, I know, forgive her unfortunate Elizabeth for this disjointed and untimely missive. But my heart, o'erburdened with a nameless woe, must needs relieve itself in words, else crack.
The solid money is on the fact that tomorrow (Saturday the 17th) or Sunday (the 18th) – by Monday (the 19th) the absolute latest – there will be blood on the floor of convention. I’m not a betting woman (Oh, I have other vices, to be sure. This is not one of them), but I’d put money down on this one. Big money. And, I’d win.Isn't cockfighting illegal...?
Thus far, four days into the legislative session, we’ve been so polite. So veddy Episcopalian. So erudite and cultured and above-it-all. Very meet, right and oh, so proper.Tremble, as an explosive story of volcanic passion shakes the screen!
But, the signs are all there. The explosion is about to happen. It’s like walking around and feeling the earth tremble before the earthquake strikes or the volcano erupts.
Emotions are running very high on all sides. At the Integrity Eucharist tonight, Gene Robinson gave a humdinger of a sermon. He could barely finish it, so chocked as he was on his tears.A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, I perceive.
We were all sobbing with him – that entire church knew and understood his story, his pain – the love he has of God and Jesus and his absolute trust in the chaos of the Holy Spirit to do a new thing – all of which was his answer to the question he is most frequently asked: How can you do this? How can you do this with such grace and calm assurance?Oh, truly, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man!
I came home after the Eucharist. I couldn’t go to the festivities afterward. I started off ready to attend, but I found myself walking the 9 blocks home to my hotel.No, common diversions are not for such a sensitive soul as I.
I went directly to my room, got into my gym shorts and Boston Red Socks tee-shirt, put my Pink Flamingo flip flops on my feet and my Boston Red Socks hat on my head and headed down to the bar where I got a glass of chardonnay and a chicken quesadilla appetizer.That's more like it!
There I was, minding my own business. My emotions were neatly folded up and tucked into my heart. I’m fine. I’m eating my quesadilla and drinking my wine and reading my book.The calm before the storm.
Look, Ma, I’m fine. See? I’m fine. Really, I’m just fine.
And then, from out of nowhere, she came to my table.Some enchanted evening...you may meet a strangerrrrrr.....
She’s an attorney. Very sharp. African American. Progressive on social issues, but with a tendency toward the conservative because of her relationships with the African immigrants in her congregation. Most importantly, she is deeply, deeply compassionate. You can see it in face, but her eyes are a dead give away.Those eyes, like limpid pools of infinite depth, looked into mine and struck deep into my soul.
“Hey, yourself,” I said. “I’m fine. I’m just fine.”My struggling soul lay naked and helpless beneath the all-encompassing gaze of this powerful stranger.
“Really?” she asked, in that way that you INSTANTLY know she’s seen right through your crap and you’ve got no where to run, no where to hide.
“Nah,” I heard myself say, hating that I was being honest with this woman I knew only every three years and only in a social and/or work setting, feeling the embarrassment of being so vulnerable, so transparent, the emotions welling up in hot volcanic larva, emanating from the pit of my stomach and moving in searing hot waves to my chest, erupting in an unexpected lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.'Yield, you fool!' cried my heart, as my mind, overthrown with anguish, strained to conquer this sweet weakness.
She pulled up a chair and sat down. She held my hand. She looked into my eyes. I knew that she knew. And, I cried. In great, painful, heaving sobs. Right there at the bar.I've never been able to order a banana daquiri since.
Suddenly, I couldn’t stop myself. I knew that I could trust her with my tears. I could reveal my pain to her and she would honor it. Everything started to spill out – and over.There, there, dear. That's the last of the quesadilla - you'll feel better now.
My voice was hoarse and croaking. “It’s just that, when this thing blows up – and it will blow up soon (she nodded her head in agreement) – either tomorrow or Sunday – (more nods of acknowledgement) and I know. I know. I know,” I began to sob even more deeply, “We’re going to split. They are going to leave. That it will be my fault. All our faults. That every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in the church will be feeling the heavy burden of grief for the split in our church. We also know it really isn’t our fault. But, we know we’ll be blamed anyway. And, it hurts. Oh, God, it hurts so bad to be hated so much.”It's so LONELY to be God's chosen people!
She held me in her strong arms and said, in a mother’s soothing voice, “Let it go. Let it go.”I was rocked in the peace of Mother Gaia.
And, I did. For the first time in five days, I allowed myself the luxury of crying. Of letting it all go. The grief. The pain. The shame. The blame. The tangled knowledge that it isn’t my – our – fault. And yet, feeling the burden, the sharp sting of the accusation any way.Because we're so innocent and sensitive and complicated - just like Jesus!
“Let it go,” she crooned, “I’ve got you. You won’t fall,” she said, as I felt myself tilt off balance in my chair, “ I’ve got you.” And she did. And I didn’t. And it was okay. And, it was absolutely awful. And, I cried and cried and cried.You are a chiiiiiild...of the universe...no less than the trees and the stars...you have a riiiiight to be here.
Finally, when I could speak again, I saw that she was crying. “I can only imagine what you are feeling – what this must be like for you. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say that will help. But I can promise to pray for you.”I know it sounds shocking, but we really did it. We PRAYED. Right in public! We weren't embarrassed or scared the people would think we were a coupld of Baptists or anything!
“Oh, yes,” I heard myself say, “Please. Please do pray. For me. For us.”
And, she did. Right there in the bar. Right in front of God and everyone there.
I can’t remember what she said. I only know that I took her words into my ears, and they flowed like warm mother’s milk down the side of my head, and flowed into and around my aching heart and brought deep, deep comfort to my wounded soul.And did I mention that we both started ovulating right then?
I found some healing tonight. Unexpected healing. Healing I didn’t even know I needed. On one level, it’s not going to change a thing. It’s still going to get ugly. There will be blood on the floor of convention. Of this, I have no doubt.Well, when women and fluids get together, what can you do?
There will be a split in this church that I so dearly love. I – and every other lesbian, gay man, bisexual and transgender person in the Episcopal Church – knows that we will be blamed.Does this crown of thorns make me look fat?
And, we’ll also know that it’s not really our fault.
My enemies will hate me. Lord have mercy, how they will hate me!
But now, having been held as I cried, I think I can love them anyway.It is finished.
Labels: The Swan of Newark