Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bridges Built in Love

I think that often we are too “nice”. We worry so about being culturally correct with those from another culture that our conversations are stilted and empty. I hope that this is what the “listening process” is helping to cure at Lambeth.

I have been reading the “blogging bishops” on a fairly regular basis. Some give the “just the facts, Ma’am” while others get down to the heart of the matter. I am deeply grateful for this age of technology that allows these bishops, however lacking in substance, to share their day to day experiences with us while they are in the midst of Lambeth while we remain helplessly hoping for good things to come of this conference.

One thing that is so clear to me – whether ever one likes or appreciates or even understand the Indaba process, I see cases where it is working. There have been several bishops who have blogged about the conversations that have happened in their groups. These that have done so seem to have experienced a new understanding, just as these also seem to think that others in the group did the same.

Which leads me to wonder, when Bishop Daniel of the Diocese of Lui was here in St. Louis last May, did anyone open a discussion about homosexuality? Was it a part of any conversation or was it the elephant in the middle of the room? It is my thought that if there is one bishop from one culture where being gay or lesbian is not only considered sinful but also illegal and there is one gay or lesbian citizen of the United States in the same room, then the elephant is there also – in one mind or another.

If we talk…converse…discuss…which does not mean orate…lecture…teach…if we have these conversations, it means that we are listening. Not listening to our own voices bouncing off the walls but listening to the voices of others as they tell of their pain, their lives, their differences…this seems to me to be the power of the Indaba process.

One bishop brought out the idea that here in the US it is illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians (he wasn’t from Texas!) while at the same time in many sub-Saharan countries it is illegal to NOT discriminate against lesbians and gays. How do we cross that divide?

I don’t think we do. I think it is a gap over which we have to build a bridge. That bridge has to be constructed from understanding from both sides that the gap will not be filled in for a very long time.

By that bridge we can still meet with one another. We can still help one another. We can cross over, one individual at a time. We continue our relationships with our companion dioceses; we support the work of Episcopal Relief and Development and of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. We keep on keeping on with the work that is there for us to do. And mainly…we keep on talking with one another.

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