Our time at General Assembly has come to a close and we've returned to the places from which we came. Many of us find ourselves asking the question: What's Next? I've been asking myself this question in many avenues. What's next on my queer journey? What's next in my spiritual journey? What's next in my new home of Raleigh, NC? I am elated to share that today I began to find some answers. While at GA, some of our team members and I ventured on over to an Emergent Church BBQ at Lake Nakomis Presbyterian Church. While at said BBQ I had a very brief but promising interaction with a very energetic man who I can only assume has adult ADHD. Before he was distracted by someone's pair of shoes, he told me about a worship community in the Raleigh area called The Emmaus Way. Once I had the chance, I looked them up and made the easy decision to check them out. Luckily for me, they gather on Sunday evenings. So after catching up on sleep (I didn't get out of bed until after 3 pm today...) I joined them in a time of worship and conversation. The theme, so to speak, of our gathering was that of both consolation and desolation. This really spoke to me and met me where I am right now after our time at GA. We were asked to respond to the questions: What has been a time of consolation for you? and What has been a time of desolation? I shared with my small group some of the times where consolation and desolation both stood alone and coincided while at General Assembly. I saw the Grace of God multiple times each day with our team as we gathered for reflection and for worship. I saw so much love and hope for our church. But I also saw times of desolation. Times when that hope felt lost. Times when I felt sadness and anger and hurt. But it didn't take long for that Grace to reappear as we continued to share time together. As we gathered for worship on our last day, we affirmed one another and our spirits were once again caught on fire. As I witnessed the Spirit shine brightly through each of us, my hope was overwhelmingly restored. As I joined The Emmaus Way this evening, I continued to be in a place of consolation. We also spoke on being in a place where a season, or a journey, has ended and a new one has begun. We spoke on how, when a new journey commences, we don't see all that is ahead and that can be frightening. How wonderful to hear a message that spoke to exactly where I find myself. Many of the songs that we sang together this evening really rang true and spoke to me. I'll share some of the lyrics with you now, in hopes that they will speak to you as well.
From "Leaving Seattle" by The Basics: While the road up ahead is all curved and I'm frightened At the way that the future will be And somehow I know that there's fire in the telling But the ending is hidden from me The sounds are a silence, my tears are a dryness That spring from the wasteland of lows While each passing mile says I'm closer to home I know there's further to go
From "The Long Defeat" by Sarah Groves: And I pray for a vision and a way I cannot see It's too heavy to carry and impossible to leave
And this next one especially reminded me of our team and our time together. (Though, parts of it may or may not be kind of cheesy...) "Laugh My Beloved" by Peter Himmelman: Laugh my beloved, wipe the teardrops from your eyes Laugh my beloved, the sun is on the rise Sing my beloved, for God is always good Sing my beloved, that this may be understood May you always remember the place from which you came May God bring you blessings to flow from your new name Laugh me beloved, may you always stay secure Laugh my beloved, may your heart be clean and pure Sing my beloved, for the day is sweet and long Sing my beloved and may your life be like a song Dance my beloved out in the autumn air Dance my beloved with the wind rushing through your hair May you always remember the place you're eternally bound May God bring you blessing, even greater than the ones we've found Laugh my beloved, so sweet my newborn one Laugh my beloved, the journey has begun
What a blessing for me to have quickly found a new place of worship. A place that welcomed me with open arms and joyful greetings. And a place that will be using visual art in worship next week! And a place that has asked me to work with them in that vein! Woo Hoo!