What a month it's been. I don't want to hit replay in my mind because it wasn't an easy month in so many ways. Of course my mom's passing tops the list as the single most difficult yet blessed event. Blessed because I was privileged to be there, to be with her, to be with my dad and sisters at the very end. Blessed because the hospice nurse helped usher mom into heaven, an unforgettable experience which was horrible and wonderful, amazing and terrifying, joyful and incredibly sad. Blessed because I connected with a cousin I hadn't spent time with in years, and another cousin (in-law) who I got to know so much better, finding we had much in common. Blessed because when my aunt and uncle stood by mom's bedside hours before she left us...she perked up and puckered up to receive a kiss. Proof that she was still so very much with us, yet so very close to leaving us. How could you not cry? How can I keep back tears in the retelling? It was very much like a glimpse of heaven.
I've always felt extra sorry for people who lose loved ones close to the Christmas holiday, but for me it turned out to be a blessed distraction. After Mom passed, I had to do the next thing. I had to get on a plane and go home and make Christmas happen. My children and grandchildren would be arriving in shifts. There were presents to buy and wrap, meals to plan, rooms to prepare -- hurry, hurry, rush, rush, Christmas is a comin'! And there are great expectations to be met. Expectations of my own making.
Then there were Christmas services in which to participate, parties to attend, presents to open, sweet time together and reluctant goodbyes, and then a new year to usher in. Good things. Glimpses of heaven.
Soon after the new year began, I was off to an annual conference for gay Christians. My third. Attendees at the GCN conference are incredible people, really incredible. There is more talent, kindness, friendliness, grace, compassion, love and Christ-like behavior -- in one very diverse group of people -- than I've ever encountered anywhere. Glimpses of heaven abound.
Phenomenal speakers, Rachel Held Evans, Rob and Linda Robertson, and Dr. Christine Wiley, blessed with words from heaven. And the music? Heavenly as well, especially the choir numbers at Sunday morning worship. I'm grateful for all who participated, and especially grateful to Ben Shopland who chose the songs, directed the choir, and sang in both a quartet and a duet along with his dad.
Sights and sounds...more than just a glimpse of heaven.
It's not quite possible for me to imagine what it's like to be gay and Christian, but I'm glad for all of these people who are. Glad I've rubbed elbows with them, dined with them, worshiped and communed with them. Here, you see, are a bunch of Christians living out their faith in spite of and in the face of persecution...offering Christ's love, mercy, and grace in return. They love and accept those who are different from them. They love and accept me and others like me into their fellowship -- unconditionally. It can't be missed, they are disciples of God. And you'll know they are His disciples by their love.