Spring is in full flower in my yard… literally. The last purple blooms of the redbud have fallen to the ground, just as blossoms are bursting open on seven dogwood trees. Yellow daffodils give way to pink tulips, which are succeeded by red azaleas. I breathe in the sweet fragrance of lilacs and the delicate scent of lily of the valley. And this is just the beginning. This is what I’ve been waiting for over the cold, dark winter. The warmth and light of the sun are returning, and the earth wakes up shouting “Hallelujah!”
Too often, perhaps, we take the power of sunlight for granted. I think back a few weeks to Easter Sunday. My wife and I, and a couple dozen other stalwart souls, left home while it was still dark, headed for Jump Off Rock in Henderson County. We held an Easter Sunrise service there where, for the first time in five years, the skies at this mountain lookout spot were perfectly clear. As we retold the ancient story of the dying and rising god, the first red rays of the sun shone on people’s faces. It makes sense, I thought, that the stories of Jesus’ disciples finding his empty tomb all take place first thing in the morning. Transformation, and new life, should manifest themselves in the light.
The fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz had this to say about the power of light (as translated by Daniel Ladinsky):
Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
Otherwise we all remain too
It’s not always easy to open up our hearts, and give to the world all of our queer beauty, and that is a tragic waste. The world is not complete without our beauty: without yours, without mine, without that of each and every person who, the Bible claims, is the living and breathing image of God. Could it be that we could use more of the warm, gentle encouragement of loving light? In my belief system, faith should drive that light – the recognition of the divine light in each other. On a good day, at least, I strive to see, and be, that light, to heal and affirm as Jesus did. On a good day.
There are faith communities, it seems, that can’t bring themselves to cast that light on queer folks. I pity them. Whatever god they serve, it is a god that I don’t recognize. Let me be clear: others have a God-given and Constitution-given right to disapprove of us. But they don’t have a God-given, let alone Constitution-given, right to treat queer folks as less-than. Each of us is a rose with a heart full of beauty, and nobody has a right to force us to close it off.
So, if you feel that divine light encouraging your being, please: share your beauty with the world. Because your beauty will be the light that encourages someone else, and that will encourage still others, until all around us is beauty. And can’t we all use a little extra beauty right now?
P.S. To my Muslim siblings, thank you for the beauty of the Sufi mystics… and Ramadan Mubarak.
The Rev. Dr. Joan Saniuk is Pastor of Sacred Journey Metropolitan Community Church in Hendersonville, NC.
Join us: This story is made possible with the help of qnotes’ contributors. If you’d like to show your support so qnotes can provide more news, features and opinion pieces like this, give a regular or one-time donation today.