As is covered in my about page, I went through a phase now more than a decade ago when I thought I was called to be an Episcopal priest. It didn't work out as I thought it should at the time and today I am very, very glad about that. But I digress.
The bottom line is that it was during that period when I came to grips with my... well... 'weirdness'. 'Weird' not in the creep-stalks-young-girls sense. 'Weird' not in the geek-in-the-basement-playing-video-games-and-won't-come-out-except-to-refill-his-stash-of-Doritos sense. 'Weird' meaning what I found (and still find) interesting and captivating and passion inducing isn't exactly what most people find interesting and captivating and passion inducing. Religion, and political thought birthed from my religious beliefs, are passions of mine. They're not necessarily passions, it seems to me, of most other people and so the 'weird' moniker, in those people's eyes at least, tends to stick.
With that as background and context, I want to get into what follows.
The other day, while waiting in the grocery store parking lot for my husband to come out with some last minute supplies, I was stopped cold by the acknowledgement that the many folks entering and exiting that store were my brothers and sisters. I looked at their hair, their clothes, their mouths moving to form inaudible speech. I recognized no one over the other, and no one was of particular beauty, but I was captivated. The lump came to my throat, the tears sprung to my eyes, and my head and heart burned with a painfully acute love for them. In that moment, I would have given my life for any of them. The burden of an empathetic epiphany is temporary but stinging: oh, their collective tragedies! Who is battling what demon, and for how long? Who has lost a child, who is being eaten up by regret or secret lust or paralyzing fear? Who needs urgently to ask for help but for pride cannot? I am impotent in the moment, and then the moment leaves. What is the function of it, this peek backstage, these thirty seconds of reality buried in the middle of my mundane daily illusions? There may not be a profit in it for me, at least not one I can spend now. Not like the theological gain of discovering at last my relationship to Mary, our Blessed Mother, for example, which yielded an obvious profit to my spiritual life. Once I saw her for who she was, once I started looking at women and mothers through the Church’s lens, the profit was immeasurable. But unraveling a key Church doctrine like the identity of the Mother of Christ is not analogous to finding yourself soul mates with the produce manager at your supermarket. Or is it?
As I read Nicole Demille's words (and I think you should read them all for yourself), I'm remembering a similar occurrence taking place years ago in my own life while in the midst of that ordination exploration program referenced earlier. I can't remember the setting except to remember there were a ton of people walking around within eyeball distance. As I sat where ever this was, pondering my future and as I watched these people milling about, for the briefest of moments, I felt a kinship with them that was palpable and strong. In that moment, I felt, like I'd never felt before, that I was connected to each person, wondering what issues and challenges they were each facing and praying for God to intervene in each and every person's circumstance. I distinctly recall becoming emotional. Of course, it was fleeting, and that sense of awareness soon faded. I've wondered since then if this was some odd barometer of sorts measuring how in tune I was with divinity And after reading Nicole Demille's piece, wondering it all the more.
Thinking through this even as I write these words, it occurs to me that we live in the 'weird' when we don't live in that empathetic moment of epiphany.
We live in the 'weird' when we don't live in the reality that is God's will.
In the eyes of the world, I live in the 'weird'.
In the eyes of God, it's the 'weird' we need to escape.
Lord, help me, help us, discern the 'weird' from your reality.
*Image from here.