Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Glorious Day, and Invisibility Cloaks

Is God not genius? Has anyone looked outside today? The colors... there are no names for these colors. They are ored. They are yellange. They are impossibly beautiful and heartbreaking. I want to be out in it, yet it's actually a little too much for me. In the first church I served after being ordained, the women in my bible study fretted all fall that I would simply drive off the road, I was in such constant raptures about the foliage.

I've been thinking a lot about folks in my congregation (nothing new there) and the issue of my sexuality (nor there). I had a dream recently that I did something rather outrageous, in full view of my congregants (I was at an open house at one of their homes). Suffice to say, were I to do this thing, the cat would be out of the bag, down the street, on the highway and halfway to Fresno.

I think one of the things I've come to realize is what a powerful cloak of sexual invisibility I've had in my weight. Believe me, that was the point. For many years I fell in love with women from the safe distance of behind the fat. And I felt protected, in one sense (the sense that no one would ever be attracted to me), but not in another sense (I kept being sad). Now, I'm shedding that cloak, and... yikes! There's a woman under there! (A middle aged woman, true... which brings with it another set of invisibility issues. But a woman nonetheless.)

Today I had lunch with a bunch of colleagues. I guess I dressed up. Long dangly earrings, lipstick, a skirt that has a sort of a jungle print on it. I look like a woman, folks... a woman who cares how she looks. A... dare I say it?... sexual being. I find myself wondering whether this in itself could set people to wondering.

A friend (also closeted) who pastors a church clear on the other side of the country said to me recently, "I know they wonder about me. How could they not? But in the final analysis, I think they love me, and they just don't care one way or the other."

Which brings me to my other invisibility cloak: the fact that I've been married to a man. I really think this is the one item in my resume that will keep people from wondering the longest. Despite evidence to the contrary, it just doesn't occur to people that people either change in their self-understanding, or that they have been hiding their self-understanding. The truth is that I've known I was at the very least bisexual for more than 20 years; there was just no reason to shout about it. Within these last years, that has shifted. I now think of myself as a lesbian. I love women... I love a woman. (You are what you do, my Beloved says.) I don't see myself... under any circumstances... ever choosing to be in a romantic relationship with a man again. This is my natural way of being in the world. But because I was married, it just won't occur to people.

As I drove home from my lunch I thought of my invisibility cloaks, and how they've served me, and perhaps kept me from being who I most authentically am. Then, the leaves took over, and I lost myself... again... in the genius God who has made such a world. Such a world!


Cynthia said...

This is such a wonderful entry. I know my weight has served as an invisibility cloak for many things, including just the fact that I am a sexual being, regardless of orientation. This aspect of the entry alone got me thinking, but I loved how an appreciation of God's creation took you both out of yourself and deeper into yourself at the same time. That's one of the little miracles I love.

August said...

A friend just returned from your neck of the woods in awe of the colors. I'm jealous! Wonderful thoughts on invisibility. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah S-D said...

this is lovely.

and i so wish we had such color here now... at least its cool today.

Fran said...

Another heart-stoppingly great post.

Thank you. The concept of invisibility cloaks will remain on my heart and in my prayers.

And for your real self to keep emerging with this amazing beauty, power and grace.

Jane R said...

What a beautiful post, Cecilia. I think many of us can identify - I remember putting on weight during my first year of college, far away from home, in a new country. Though some of the tendency to put on weight easily was genetic, the over-eating was for comfort and protection, I'm sure. Some of it had to do with sexuality, some with sheer emotional vulnerability. I think the appreciation of Godde's creation through your senses is also a way to the beauty and goodness of your body. What a gift to see and appreciate the beauty around you! May Godde continue to reveal and unveil your holy human beauty to you.

On a not quite related but related note, this is a national week for women to appreciate the body they have now. Eileen and Fran have both posted on this, very movingly.

It's paradoxical for me to post these links, since they do not speak of the visibility and unveiling of which you write. But I think the matters of self-love and incarnation are in both reflections, yours and the one initiated by women this week re: the way we talk about and look at ourselves.

There's also the tension between health and beauty re: weight - but again, they do meet when we view them and our bodies through the deeper and more whole perspective of Creation.

Blessings, and thank you again for this beautiful meditation. And praises to the Holy One for ongoing revelations.

KJ said...

Great post!

As one who grew up in the church (conservative), continuing to have church community after my partner and I were together was important to me (Not so much to him but that's a topic for a different post.). Anyway, though I had never been Presbyterian, one night I dreamt that my partner and I showed up at the local Presbyterian church wearing shorts and top-sider shoes while everybody was dressed in black robes. When I woke up, unlike other dreams, I did not have to wonder what the dream had meant.

Later, having found a church to attend, there was a situation during which I very much wanted a cloak of invisibility. I just assumed all UMC churches would be welcoming and affirming, so dragged my partner along to begin attending a large church a couple towns away. It didn't take too many visits to realize we were the only out gay couple there. The pastor, one of the most loving people I've ever met, wasn't "there" just yet, on the issue (But was on the way.). At one point, the music director came out, throwing the church into a time of chaos. Most members were supportive, but a very vocal minority made their angst well-known. Having received a letter sent to the entire congregation by the detractors, we backed off and stopped attending, but the music director contacted us to let us know the Sunday that the senior pastor was going to direct the issue from the pulpit.

The sermon was moving and supportive, while acknowledging that not all were in agreement. However, I longed for a cloak of invisibility for myself and my partner, as I felt completely exposed. Of course, all my partner's presumptions of church nonsense were confirmed in the process, so eventually, we moved on (The matter is resolved at that church now, where the music director continues to serve.).

Next stop was TEC where no cloak was needed nor desired, though serving as an acolyte, I do wear a white alb on some Sundays. ;-)

sharecropper said...

Invisibility cloaks are handy when you are fearful, but they get too hot and heavy when you're comfortable. They are especially uncomfortable when we use to deny parts of ourselves. Weight, sexuality, physical limitations, fear of intimacy. Good to hear about others' cloaks.