“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Words of Hope
On this day in 2004, a lesbian couple in their 50’s became the first legally married same-sex partners in the United States. For this reason, today is recognized as Same-sex Marriage Day. Though Massachusetts ruled that prohibiting the right to a civil marriage to be unconstitutional in 2003, it took twelve more years for the Supreme Court of the United States to follow and acknowledge the right to a legal civil union for same-sex couples across this country. For those of us that are progressive Christians, sadly many of those who fought against these rights (and continue to do so) invoke the name of Jesus in in their arguments.
As Christians, we turn to Jesus as an example of how to live. So, what examples does Jesus give us for marriage – heterosexual or same-sex? None. We have no record of Jesus’s life between age thirteen and twenty-nine, the period of life when a young Jewish man would likely have married. Scholarship does not agree on whether or not Jesus was indeed married. Given this scenario, if who one marries is so important, why does Jesus not give us better guidance? Perhaps who one marries is not important to Jesus. Maybe Jesus is truly concerned with our ability to open our hearts and love fully no matter our own or our partner’s sexual identity. Maybe it was Jesus who is responsible for the now popular “Love Is Love” phrase.
As with much of scripture, the words of the above Emily Dickinson poem have been interpreted many different ways. Yes, it is about hope. But is it generic hope? Probably not. Emily Dickinson was in love with the woman who eventually became her sister-in-law. Though she knew their relationship could never be, Emily clung to and survived on hope…and deep love for Susan. She wrote these words in a letter to her lover:
“Come with me this morning to the church within our hearts, where the bells are always ringing, and the preacher whose name is Love — shall intercede for us!”
How interesting that Emily Dickinson chose to use the metaphor of the church as she pleads for her lover to join her. And yet, “the church” has been the loudest opponent to such love.
We speak of the power of God’s love, a love that, as humans, we do not have the capacity to fully comprehend. My hope is for a world that can simply acknowledge this, our human limitation, and truly live into the prayer “God’s will be done.”
God of love, I pray that I will never underestimate the power of your love and the ways that it is manifested in my heart, my life, and my world. Amen
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare