Thursday, November 21, 2013

Unconventional (Ruth 1:11-13)

     But Naomi said to her daughters-in-law. "Go back my daughters. Why do you want to come with me? I have no more sons inside me that you can take as spouses. No, you must go back my daughters. I am too old to marry again. Even if I told you that there was still hope for me, if I were to find a spouse and have children tonight, would you be willing to wait until they are grown to marry them? Would you refuse to remarry for this far-off hope? No, if you did that, it would tear me apart, for the hand of the Most High has been raised against me."
Ruth 1:11-13

Many a queer person has been were Naomi is at: where the path forward seems clogged with insurmountable obstacles. We have felt her sense of hopelessness in the midst of mayhem. Life has crashed down around us as it crashes around Naomi. Why even pretend to hold out a thought that the pendulum will swing our way if we bleive the voice of the entrenched that God is set against us?

Naomi's dispair comes in the midst of the bleak reality of a life marginalized and adrift in the culture of her time. First her husband and then her sons died. She is a widow in a foreign land. All she can see is a road that leads to a life of poverty and begging. While Naomi's fate may not be a direct threat to us, as les-bi-gay-trans-queer-intersex-asexual people we also have been left bereft and adrift in the culture of our time. She is a sister, a member of the family, who has traveled the road of the disenfranchised before us.

Naomi's sight is on the conventional. Marriage is the best option, but she is old, and even if she can entice another, the chances of viable children are slim. Even less, is the chance that her daughters-in-law will wait around to be married to them. Woe is compounded with woe.

When I feel my hope slipping, when I lose my expectancy for the future, it is usually because I've set my sight on the conventional. Yet, our hope in the Sacred, as Naomi discovers throughout her story, often leads us into the unconventional. Her foreign daughter-in-law Ruth moves with her back to Israel - unconventional for the time. Ruth - a beggar widow - woos a prominent land owner - unconventional. Ruth will bear a son named Obed, and Obed a son named Jesse, and from Jesse's stem will come David - unconventional.

So it is with queer and allied people of faith, the Divine will goad us into the unconventional. We will be mocked and even persecuted as heretics for our oddity, yet our way forward is not the standard for that has been shut to us. Like Mallet's photo, once the way forward is cut off, we need to perceive the path from a new frame. Excitedly, we find the Great Heart of the Universe leading us into the eccentric, the unusual, the irregular, the "alternative," the avant-garde. And as with Naomi, so will great things be accomplished through us.

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