Monday, May 12, 2008

Teach Your Parents Well

My daughters have learned a great from me, both by word and example. They can imitate me better than any one on earth, and can tease me mercilessly because they know me so well. And, they have taught me much more than they can ever imagine. I had four degrees but they have been my most effective and knowledgeable teachers - they know and love me and want to encourage my capacity more than anyone in the world. Some times for parents, me included, it is hard to accept our children's teaching. And yet, their lessons, so intimate and loving, are the lessons we most need. The hardest question I have to answer from my daughters is this - Why do you put up with that? I have taught them well that no one and no institution has the right to treat them like less than a full participant, but I often fail to challenge the church and others in the face of blatant discrimination and exclusion. I have worked for so long to bring inclusion to so many that I sometimes overlook it when it happens to me. And I think it is hard to be one's own best advocate.

But I have taken in the lesson of my daughters. I may not be able to answer their question fully today, but I do understand where they are pointing me. They are directing me to be clear and vocal in the face of careless exclusion. They are teaching me to raise my voice when it might be easier to be silent and compliant. They are teaching me to be the fierce and honest woman I have taught them to be. So, I hope that people will be patient with me as I grow into these new learnings. My daughters have taught me that if I accept misbehavior towards me then I am accepting bad behavior for many others too. If I truly want to empower others, I have to be my own best advocate. The Church and other institutions (and individuals) might not like to hear it, but it's true. We all need to face our corrupt power, our racism, and our willingness to ignore the marginalized. A few in the Church have tried to marginalize me because I don't fit a particular mold, theology or political ideology. They want me different or off to the side. But I am here, smack dab in the middle of the church I love and I am not going anywhere. I will "take my place in the councils of the church" because not doing so would be dishonoring my vows as a bishop.

I do not know yet where their lessons will lead me. I do not know what actions I will take. I know I will keep praying for God's guidance. I know I will keep believing that God is active in my life, that the Holy Spirit is stirring up a new mission, and that Jesus will not leave me but will lead me to the next place. May we all take courage in knowing that the people who love us want desperately for us to thrive. And may we know that God's constancy and activity is for our thriving. May we learn the lessons of our children and know that God is actively seeking our full inclusion, our full voice, our dreams fulfilled.

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