Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Miracle of the Crooked (Isaiah 40:3-5)

     A voice cries out, "Clear a path through the wilderness for Adonai! Make a straight road through the desert for our God! Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low; let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges become a valley! Then the glory of Adonai will be revealed, and all humankind will see it." The mouth of Adonai has spoken!
Isaiah 40:3-5

A more traditional rendering of the phrase "and the ridges become a valley" is "and the crooked shall be made straight." While this phrase speaks to camel roads meandering through the deserts, today's queer cannot but take notice of this turn of words that the "crooked" is to be made "straight." One time my spouse was approached by a mutual friend about "straightening" me out. I had no clue if he was addressing my theology or my sexuality, but the implication was clear, crooked is "bad" while straight is "good."

In the world of sexuality much failed effort is put into making the crooked straight. Never tempted to seek gay-aversion therapy myself, a few of my friends have. Their personal experience was of being twisted into knots. It was a reversal of this biblical invitation as something as straightforward as love was bent into a crooked understanding of the "bad" self.

I know this text is not about sexuality, it is about the way home, the joyful release of the captive, and the journey to claim God's gift of hearth and home. Historically it is a call to the exiles in Babylon to return to Judah. Still, for many queer folk the way to wellbeing includes a rather meandering path that is often fostered upon us.

Once I was invovled in a meditation on this passage when the facilitator asked, "What obstacles have you placed on your path?" A good question, but I laughed thinking, "What about all the obstacles placed on my path by others?" Our detractors warn us that they are making it their business to block our progress at every turn. Such mean-spiritedness twists and crooks the path we forge.

I admit, I'm befuddled as to how to respond to the invitation to make the crooked straight when I know any attempt will be met by detractor after detractor. I wonder if our call as queer and allied people of faith is not to the task of straightening the course, but rather to the task of humbly accepting God's presence with us on the crooked, twisted, gnarled, warped, and often jagged trail.

Could it be that as God is revealed through the miracle of straightening, so is God also revealed through the miracle of the crooked? Ed Chan seems to think so, he says of his life as a painter, "One gloomy morning … I decided that the world could be a comprehensible colourful and beautiful place." Which sounds to me like a miracle of the crooked. Note how Chan's crooked road appears inviting, even festive as the group heads toward the welcoming sun. It reminds me of the ending of that guided meditation, when the facilitator said, "Ask for the grace to navigate the twists and the bumps. We walk not alone, but with God." 

Is this not the most subversive out loud and proud protest we can undertake in the face of our detractors - celebrating God's presence on the road which twists and bends before us? 

No comments:

Post a Comment