There is a table next to a wall in a large conference room covered in candles and sitting beneath the names of the shooting victims from Pulse in Orlando.
My friend, Corie, had just the day before held back the emotion still sitting just beneath the surface of her vibrant heart as she recalled her days in Orlando working at Pulse.
Time Magazine ran an article putting a national spotlight on Intervarsity Christian Fellowship’s “purge” of LGBTQ affirming staff. The article mentions the mother of a transgender child who lost her job as an assistant director of an Intervarsity chapter.
After co-presenting a workshop on spiritual abuse, I stood face to face with Ginny, the mother from that article. While we talked, she pushed through tears over the loss of her ministry platform and the rejection of the extended spiritual family she recently considered so close.
The faces of “others” are all around us. They are people of color, women in a hijab, and same sex couples walking a promenade hand in hand. These are the eyes a photojournalist hopes to capture in an effort to put an exclamation point on a hard-hitting story. They are the smile coving the pain of a courageous young man who has been told where to urinate at school. Behind the dramatic twists of a social narrative or the perfect angle and lighting are hearts, souls and minds that know great joy and great sorrow.
Going beyond the public agenda or religious politics, we often gather with others who are just as “other” as we are. Within these makeshift sanctuaries we talk about what makes us different and what unites us. We talk about ways to help the rest of the world better understand us and how we can better care for ourselves as we encounter the fears of follies of daily living.
But mostly, we rest in the space created to hold us.
We allow those hearts, minds and souls to fly – even if only for a moment – before we need to once again bring them under the cover of a protective shell. We laugh and cry with complete abandon, knowing that we have found in this space the safety we long for.
Then we light another candle on the alter against the wall: remembering, praying, and hoping.