Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
I am currently reading Outside the Lines: How Embracing Queerness Will Transform Your Faith by Mihee Kim-Kort. In her introduction she describes queerness as three things:
First, it is a posture which transgresses boundaries, specifically around gender and sexuality but also beyond these.
Second, it is playfulness, it experiments, it recognizes “the Holy Spirit in our wildest imagination” and makes room for our humanity, all the ways we stumble and fall.
Third, it is a practice. “It is always an act of protest, a revolt, a demonstration, a rallying around people’s humanity and dignity when larger institutions threaten it. . . it is allyship.”
She goes on to describe Jesus as embodying queerness, as someone who challenged the realities of his world on multiple levels and subverting dominant ways of thinking through his teaching, parables, and acts of healing.
As a contemplative, I have always been drawn to the monastic way of life, especially as a witness to an alternative way of being in the world. In a culture that celebrates speed, productivity, and busyness, contemplative practice calls me to see beneath this narrow vision of our humanity to something far more spacious.
The monk is called to transgress boundaries of the way we define our value. Rather than through striving and achievement, the monk finds their value in presence, in touching the eternal moments, in finding the sacred in the ordinary.
As an artist and poet, I am called to playfulness. Living on the west coast of Ireland, I love the image of being on the wild edges – both as a literal reality here on the Atlantic coast – and as a metaphorical reality of allowing the wildness of Spirit to move through me and my life and disrupt my plans and expectations.
As a human being, one rooted in a mystical tradition that teaches Love is the foundation of everything, I am called to be an ally to anyone who experiences their dignity questioned or threatened.
The call of the monk and artist in my life means to embrace those people and places who summon me beyond the confines of my own experience and vision for what is possible. As a collective, when we welcome in the diversity of the human experience, grace is inevitable. The Rule of Benedict makes clear that it is in the stranger knocking at our door that we encounter the very face of Christ. In the persons and experiences which make me uncomfortable or ill at ease or insecure, that is where the divine presence shimmers most strongly.
Abbey of the Arts has always strived to be a welcoming place for those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Anyplace love is found, we need to amplify it. Anywhere there is discrimination and people on the margins, we must be an ally. We must witness through our actions that another world is possible where everyone is celebrated for how they move through life. We must be the fertile ground for authenticity to flourish.
I am delighted that Rev. Simon Ruth de Voil will be leading our community in a mini-retreat next Saturday, August 21st called Queer Eye for Godde, celebrating the ways we live into our call to authenticity. Join us however you identify in terms of gender or sexual orientation. Together we can deepen into the wisdom of this path together. We will explore how queerness can enrich our contemplative practice.
We are trying to lean into challenging conversations this year, into the places where we can grow more and cultivate our capacity to contribute to a more beautiful and just world. If you read this month’s book club selection I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown, join us for our first mid-month community conversation this Friday, August 20th hosted by Claudia Love Mair and myself.
With great and growing love,
Image credit: Dancing Monk Icon © Marcy Hall at Rabbit Room Arts