Some wisdom for the middle of June:
8:26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.
8:27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs.
8:28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”–8:29 for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.)
8:30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.
8:31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.
8:32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission.
8:33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
8:34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country.
8:35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.
8:36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.
8:37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned.
8:38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying,
8:39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.
Quinn G. Caldwell
“As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.'” – Matthew 24:1-2
For me it was The Common Ground in Ithaca, NY, a magnificently seedy roadhouse several miles outside of town. It had a gravel and grass parking lot, a perpetual haze of cigarette smoke, and an all-age cast of regulars you could easily have built a sitcom around. My husband will tell you about The Park in Roanoke, VA, which he and his college friends would drive 45 minutes to get to every weekend, and which they talk about today like it’s a homeland from which they’re in unwilling diaspora.
Ask any queer person you know, and chances are they’ll have a story to tell you about a place like this. They will tell you about how they found a family there, how they found themselves there, how they felt safe for the first time on the dance floor there, how much they learned there, how they found love there, how they learned to be bold there, how they dressed like themselves for the very first time there, showing off their glitter, or butch haircut, or size 13 high heels without fear. That note you hear in their voice as they tell you about it? That’s gratitude, and reverence.
50 dead and more than 50 wounded hits hard any time and anywhere. But for many queer people, what happened at Pulse hits as hard as shootings in churches hit for Christians, as hard as shootings in black churches hit for black Christians. It’s not just the death toll. It’s not just that it was a hate crime. It’s that it happened in a sanctuary.
Here’s a true thing: every sanctuary will be invaded, by madness or death or slow decay, sooner or later. Even the Temple in Jerusalem fell. Even the body of God was penetrated. But here’s what Christians believe: that body is still our refuge and our might. That the lord of the dance(hall) wouldn’t stay dead. That his pulse wouldn’t stop pulsing. That they couldn’t take our Sanctuary away.
So as you mourn and grieve and organize today, here’s what I hope: that you do not let your sanctuary be taken from you. I hope you remember wherever it was you first found freedom and safety, and that you go back there if you can, if only in memory. I hope you go out dancing.
God, you are our refuge and our might. Your sanctuaries are everywhere, and only some of them are in churches. Give us courage to never let them be taken away. Amen.
This chapter is closed now,
not one word more
until we meet some day
and the voices rising
to the window
take wing and fly.
Open the old casement
to the lands we have forgotten,
to the mountains and ridgeways
and the steep valleys,
quilted by green,
here, as the last words fall away,
the great and silent rivers of life
are flowing into the oceans
and on a day like any other
they will carry you again,
on the currents you have fought,
to the place
you did not know