Last weekend I attended the Anglican Queerest and Dearest camp for LGBTQ2S + and
friends. I was honoured to be asked to participate as one of three elders to talk about
growing up queer in the time that we did and how our faith figured into that. Most of the
questions for me were about how my faith fit into my life or affected my queer identity
and it brought me home again to my own story.
As many of you know I was called to this community by the Goddess. In my 40’s and
early 50’s I was part of the Reclaiming Community practicing Wicca under the teachings
of Starhawk. Wicca is a revival of a feminist pagan earth tradition. Wicca is derived from
a word meaning ‘wise one’ and is another way to say witch. It was during this practice
that I offered my life to the Goddess to be used in Her service. And it was like she said
“oh good! I need you over here.” and she sent me to Christ Church Cathedral. I resisted
this call for 2 years and worked hard at discerning if this was a true call or not. I was
happy where I was, thank you very much.
I surrendered to the call during worship on a Sunday in October of 2001. After the
service I went downstairs and signed up. Then my work really began. I became a
Christian, an Anglican when I was 53 years old.
So I don’t have an Anglican identity. My Christian practice is informed by many years of
seeking and learning in psychotherapy, Buddhist philosophy and practice, and in
working with earth energies as a pagan.
Worship and prayer requires a lot of translation for me and over the 2 decades I’ve
learned to appreciate the gifts of the wisdom teachings of Jesus our Christ. In my
studies at VST I was astounded as the psychological and spiritual sophistication
expressed in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament were opened to me.
Universal wisdom teachings, such as:
Do not offend others, as you would not wish to be offended. Buddhism
Is there a maxim that one aught to follow for all of their life?
Surely the maxim of peaceful goodness:
What we don’t want done to us, we should not do to others. Confucianism.
Hold as your own the gains of your neighbour, and as yours their losses. Taoism.
What you don’t wish for yourself, don’t wish for your neighbour.
This is all the law, the rest is only commentary. Judaism
Not one of you will be a true believer, who does not wish for his brother
The same that he wishes for himself. Islam
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the
prophets. Christianity Matthew 7:12 Otherwise known as the Golden Rule.
The Earth traditions make it even more explicit with the Rule of Three. It states that
whatever energy a person puts out into the world, be it positive or negative, will be
returned to that person three times.
In our reading from Ephesians today we hear Paul teaching us just how it looks if we
are following the Golden Rule. This reading is actually titled Rules for the New Life in the Renovare Spiritual Formation
translation of the Bible. I’m going to read it again - it’s short - and offer an interpretation
after each quote.
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours,
for we are members of one another.
Do not lie. We are connected as one so a lie can hurt us all.
Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not
make room for the devil.
Anger is normal but don’t act from it. Don’t let it fester as it will do harm.
Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their
own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.
Again our own behaviour affects the whole community.
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up,
as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
Slandering others to make ourselves feel better is destructive to ourselves, to the other
whom we are slandering and to the community. Words matter. Use words to build up the
community, to encourage, to support and to be kind.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal
for the day of redemption.
Keep faith, even when circumstances are difficult.
Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander,
together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one
another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
That’s clear. Remember it is almost impossible to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving
of others unless we can offer that kindness, tenderness and forgiveness to ourselves.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ
loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Be imitators of God. This is work that takes a lifetime. We don’t perfect ourselves by
reading, thinking or understanding. it is doing - practice.
The work of spiritual growth and formation is active, it is changing my world view and is
evident in my language and behaviour. Real spiritual development is nothing less than
transformational. I say real because we can be seduced by the idea of ourselves as spiritual without
doing the psychological work that makes transformation possible. This is called spiritual
We can meditate for 20 years and without a manifest visible change in my presentation
and behaviour, that just says I meditated for 20 years.
It doesn’t come only through theological study and accumulation of knowledge and
It doesn’t come only through memorizing and quoting Scripture.
It doesn’t come only through having liminal or spiritual experiences of God.
It doesn’t come only through attending church, having the right beliefs, participating in
liturgy, learning from sermons or appreciating the music.
It can come through any of those practices if we do the psychological work of knowing
ourselves. Know thyself is another spiritual teaching that runs though all the major
Psychology helps us to understand how we were formed in this world. Formed by the
circumstances of the environment we were born into. The family, the culture of the place
in the world we are born; the timing; all contribute to how we learn how to survive and
stay safe; how we experience love, or not. This formation results in barriers to knowing
God in all of us.
Imagine the barriers as rocks in the stream; some are boulders and some are pebbles;
different for each of us. And as we remove the rocks the stream becomes more clear
and freely flowing. We are now open to transformation.
Be imitators of God.
This is the bread that Jesus speaks about in our lesson from Gospel of John.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry,
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. …
It is easy with this language to interpret Jesus as a gatekeeper to God. Come to me…
through me you will find God.
I am the bread… eat of this bread, that is follow my teachings, you too can know God.
Do what I do, listen to what I say.
“No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that
person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by
God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” Jn 6:44-46
Jesus knows that a person must have capacity to or consciousness to access the realm
of God. Some are called through an experience of God and come to Jesus to learn.
This says a lot to me about Jesus as a teacher.
Why is this so critical to know for us today?
Our world is changing. Our social and political structures are disintegrating, climate
catastrophe is upon us, wars go on and on, viral illness and death threaten our
healthcare systems, our financial security and our social cohesion. Change is
happening and we can resist or align. These events are not the change, they are the
effects of the change.
The old external forms of power, the ability to manipulate and control now threaten our
survival. A new internal form of power is being birthed as we recognize how connected
to each other we actually are. Sharing breath in a closed space can infect us with a
deadly virus. As we get burned out or flooded out of our homes in wildfires and
overflowing river banks, we have only each other for help to recover. How many of us
sent money to help those who lost everything in the wildfire in Lytton? In the
unprecedented heat we must depend on each other to check and make sure we are
safe. Governments and insurance companies will not save us.
Humans are becoming aware, new perceptions and insights open up to us. Time and
change seem to be on an ever faster and faster cycle. We, as a species are growing in
consciousness and our five senses no longer limit us. The science of physics has taught
us, or proven to us that other dimensions that we can’t see or touch do exist. When I
hear Kingdom of God, I also hear Quantum field, where time and space do not exist and
anything can be created.
This internal power requires spiritual development. We must be self aware and have
mastery to regulate our own feelings and behaviour. We notice that the fear and love we
see in the world are the fear and love we carry inside ourselves.
In the words of Fr. Thomas Keating of the Centering Prayer movement:
"Our ultimate goal is to integrate the active and contemplative dimensions of reality
within us and around us, which some mystics call ever-present awareness,
enlightenment, or waking up. To handle the details of living a human life without being
distracted from this primary vision is not attained through thinking, but through what
might be called the practice of just being. To take time just to be, which is to do nothing
but be in God’s presence for a regular period of time every day seems to be the shortest
access to the mystery that is beyond any conceptual consideration"
—Thomas Keating, June 2021 CAC newsletter
Jesus says “I am the bread.” The apostle Paul teaches us how to participate in the
bread. The Golden Rule reminds us that how we treat each other matters to all of us. As
within, so without.
I’ll close with a prayer.
God of love,
Awaken us to this new way to be in the world,
caring and connected to each other.
Hold us as we turn within to own our pain
and the destruction we leave in its wake.
Open us to let go of our favourite ways of distracting ourselves,
knowing the comfort there is temporary.
Forgive us our entitlement and violence
as we converge with First Peoples and immigrants
and learn together how deeply in need we are.
Restore us to You, even as we are frightened.
Call us by our true names, as we belong to You.