Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Celebrating the Queer Child Within (Isaiah 9:6)

To explore this symbol completely, we must acknowledge that the "child" points us to a deeper yearning and desire which is best captured in the symbol of "before."

For to us a child is born,
     to us a son is given,
     and the government will be on his shoulders,
And he will be called
     Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
                                                                  Isaiah 9:6

There is something innocent about childhood. Little wonder that when the prophet Isaiah wanted to renew the flagging hope of his people, he wrapped the Sacred's message of expectation and audacity in the metaphor of childbirth and all things new and unadulterated in childhood. Children represent our potential future, a future which may actually break with all the miring mud of our present human duplicity. 

Part of the christian celebration of Christmas is the spiritual journey to find the Christ child in our midst, if not within us. The symbols of the season - evergreens, candles, gift exchange - point to anticipation of all things made new, as when a baby is born. It is the reason why this Isaiah passage is often lifted up in worship this time of the church year. "And he will be called…" is another way of saying, "And our future can become…" For christians we enter this time ready to renew our allegiance to the promised future of God's Christ.

This is the symbol of the child not only in christianity, but in all faiths which acknowledge the renewing work of the Holy in the lives of both individuals and communities. To explore this symbol completely, we must acknowledge that the "child" points us to a deeper yearning and desire which is best captured in the symbol of "before." The innocence and purity of childhood exist before the alienation we encounter in adulthood - before the path of betrayal and disillusionment; before the duplicity of separation from the self just to live with our self; before the ego entices us to abandon the "we" for the "I." 

Hence the emphasis of the world's spiritual traditions to become child-like in faith as the way out of alienation and separation. Baptized, to use a word from my tradition, out of the duality of our world into the single reality of life where separation is but an illusion and alienation a distant memory. The realization that God is among us and in us and, in the mystery of Sacred, a part of us. If we cannot recognize the Sacred in us, how can we recognize the Sacred in others and live into our true roles as co-creators of this world?

Those of us who are sexually or gender diverse know full well the pain of alienation. The dawning realization that we fall under the queer umbrella is also the dawning realization that we are separated from confirming with the wider community. This separation has led others to fail to recognize that God is indeed within us as well. The damage that has been done is immense and continues to claim the lives of wonderful queer people, especially queer youth.

The symbol of the child reminds us that we are not beyond redemption. The potential of a renewed future begins today for those poised for healing. Redemption is at hand for those who can celebrate the rebirth of the child within. And when it happens our name becomes wonderful counselor, mighty god/goddess, everlasting father/mother, prince/princess of peace.

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