Over the past few weeks I have been fighting a bad cold which has been accompanied by a wicked cough. Sometimes during the day, I find that I can barely squeak out the words I have to say. Sometimes, it's better not to try to talk because I start coughing all over again. My doctor has given me several things and I am on the road to recovery. But not before I have had the chance to experience losing my voice, and reflecting on what really losing my voice might be like.
There is a good possibility, I learned Friday, that I will not be included in the Lambeth Conference. I was notified that because I do not have a full-time job, and because I am not called an Assistant Bishop somewhere, I am disqualified from participating in Lambeth. The circumstances that led me to this situation and this place are complicated, but suffice it to say I have been writing a book full time for the church and have been actively participating as a bishop, as well as actively seeking employment as a bishop. Lambeth meets every ten years, so if I do not go this year, I will have to wait until 2018. My voice, squeaky though it may be, might be lost from Lambeth. The rest of the bishops of the Anglican Communion might not want to hear from the only Indigenous female bishop, but I do know that the other women bishops, and the other voices around the communion do not want to be silenced.
Well, I may lose my voice at Lambeth, but I refuse to be silenced on behalf of those who have been given no voice. I will never be silent on the issues of full inclusion. There are wonderful people who are gifts to the church and the world who have been silenced because they do not fit in to some rigid understanding of faithfulness. I will never stop listening and fighting on their behalf. This process of losing my voice, may also become the process of finding my voice. I could just walk away right now, but in fact, the possibility of loss has ignited my heart and solidified my resolve. My personal hurt is real, but even more is the pain suffered daily by those who have been excluded and shunned, those who have been victimized by a church that fears their insights and difference. May God give us all the resolve in these days to tell the truth and keep speaking, even in the face of closed doors.