Thursday, January 31, 2013

Animosity and Persistence (Luke 11:5-8)

Jesus said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, a neighbor, and you go to your neighbor at midnight and say, ‘Lend me three loaves of bread, because friends of mine on a journey have come to me, and I have nothing to set before them.
                “Then your neighbor says, ‘Leave me alone. The door is already locked and the children and I are in bed. I can’t get up to look after your needs.’ I tell you, though your neighbor will not get up to give you the bread out of friendship, your persistence will make your neighbor get up and give you as much as you need.”
Luke 11:5-8

Being Lost by Chen Yang
Picture your BFF and name the reasons this person is your best friend forever. Among the reasons I’m sure are things like “always there,” “helps me out,” “supportive no matter the situation,” “gets me,” “doesn’t judge me,” etc. But now you need to ask a favor of this friend, a favor which will inconvenience your BFF. Yet, due to circumstances beyond your control you must ask for this favor. Hey, if you can’t turn to your friend, then who else can you turn to?

Unfortunately the inconvenience proves too weighty for the relationship. The situation invites animosity into the relationship. Your BFF is angry that you would presume such a thing of her or him. You are angry as your BFF proves to be no closer than an acquaintance with who you speak only about the weather and nothing else. You are a zero. The relationship which supported and nurtured you in the past now leaves you out in the cold night, banging on a bared door.
The sculpturer Chen Yang catches this animosity in Being Lost. While the human figures are physically close - on top of each other, even in each other erogenous zones - they are emotionally distant. Realtiy (represented by the restraining black perameter) has introduced animosity into the relationships of the figures. What should be a strong bonding experience dwindles to frustration.
Those who for one reason or another have been abandoned by their families or friends feel this parable from the inside: that sinking feeling that we are no longer welcome; the frightful realization that the relationship is based on convenience instead of love; the stark reality that the door is shut against us due to our culture's general animosity toward that which  is not heterosexual.
Let me quickly note that not all queer folk face expulsion from family and friends. Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and straight friends add comfort, support, and love to our lives. “Allies” is what we call them. They are the Sacred’s open doors.
As I've written of before, during the period of my initial coming out I was careful about which doors I tested. After all, I was about to find out how good – or not good – my friends were. At the beginning I sent out letters to friends who lived at a distance. Partly to say “here’s what you need to know.” Partly to allow the friendship to dissolve if need be. I admit those were tender weeks wondering how these relationships would prove themselves.

I still remember receiving the first letter in reply, the trepidation with which I opened it, all my insecurities rushing forward. Without needing to look at that letter I can recall the very last sentence “You have a friend in me.” Looking back I’m not sure why I would doubt this relationship. In that exposed moment my heart leapt for joy.
Of course I still have family and friends for whom my homosexuality is a point of animosity. Here the wisdom of Jesus becomes urgent. “Keep knocking.” Where the door won’t be opened by friendship it will be opened by persistence.
Since those days I have taken an active part in terminating relationships due to the “gay thing.”  At those times I felt that I could not hear the words “sinner” or “dumb” again. So I ended the relationships. I am not proud of these actions. They were undertaken more out of a sense of hurt than mutual understanding. In the end they were selfish acts on my part. Now I wonder who is knocking on the doors of my former friends, persistent in the cause of breaking through their animosity.

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