I have thought a bit about my own "roots", so to speak, and how my origin combines with my individual experience to form an identity. I cannot say the I have ever been privy to the small-town mentality that I was born in one place, one culture, grew up there, will work there, and will die there. However, I do seem to have a connection to my family that others consider unusually (even some have had the audacity to say unnaturally) prevalent and strong, and I have had to mentally prepare myself for a long time for the prospect of being transplanted away from them into new soil. In some sense I know the value in leaving home, in taking risks that may allow me to grow and change and become the person that God is calling me to be, but in another sense I fear losing the foundation that I have and being set adrift on an ocean that I cannot navigate.
In a sermon he delivered at the Integrity Eucharist during the 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson talked about the necessity of reorienting ourselves in life, and the anxiety that accompanies that feeling. He spoke of Abraham, and his experience of always moving from place to place, and trusting that God would lead him in the right direction. Like Abraham, bishop Robinson said of the people of God that we are "meant to live in tents"; that we long for a city with foundations, but every time we think we have everything safely figured out God pulls us in a different direction to a new issue or idea that we have been ignoring. His words, in that time, and in that place, comforted me as I listened, as do the words of an old hymn that my grandfather sings when he's out on the tractor in our family farm in Washington, which my family got to sing together on our recent gospel album, and which I find myself singing often when I am alone and unsure:
The benefits of living, as bishop Robinson says, in tents far outweigh these anxieties, however, as well as the the securities of a life with unshaken foundations. Without fluidity in our own identities we could not change our minds, nor come to comprehend our errors in thinking and move toward truth. It is this fluidity that ended institutional slavery in the United States, that extended democratic principles and equality under the law to women and minority populations, and that even now is working, by the grace of God. to change hearts and minds to offer equitable opportunity to the poor and equal treatment to sexual minorities. We are meant to live in tents. Amen.
To hear bishop Robinson's sermon, visit: