Meister Eckhart said: “If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” And “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” I’m not sure of the size of my heart, but I am sure it is filled with a deep and abiding gratitude. So I want to begin by saying thank you....
...[T]o all of you and each of you here. Some of you are my most intimate of friends. With some of you I share the intimacy of the shared work of helping to bring about a little more justice in our world. Being able to gather with you whose passions, commitments and sheer hours of work were shared with mine is a moment in the Realm of
So thank you. Thank you, God. Thank you, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for your movement-building ways.
Thank you, my beloved chosen family and friends.
Paradoxically, I recently heard Dr. Barbara Holmes given a lecture on the Civil Rights Movement in which she warned that singling out one leader in any movement can have dangerous consequences. First, she said, it can diminish the
power of the movement which is always exponentially more transformative than any one person. And, secondly, by
singling out one leader, it makes it possible to domesticate the movement. So while I appreciate beyond words
being honored, it is the radical, untamable nature of our collective work that we celebrate tonight.
In order to engage in that celebration a bit more, let me tell you a brief story and make just a couple of observations.
I grew up the only grandchild of my Scottish immigrant grandmother who took it as her role as my Grammie to tell me
stories about our family. She did so, as she always told me, so that I might know who I am and so that I might
know better how to live in this world.
One of those stories was about my grandfather.
My grandfather was also a Scottish immigrant who came to this country to escape grinding poverty. He was one of eleven children and he started work in the coal mines of the Lowlands of Scotland when he was ten in order to help support his family. At fourteen, he was buried alive during a collapse of part of the mine. Several days later, he was one of only three who made it out alive, but not without both a deep physical scar that ran the length of his back and a profound emotional one.
As my Grammie told it, my grandfather emmigrated shortly thereafter to escape both the poverty and the absolute
disregard for his life and the lives of all the other poor coal-mining families in his small village. When he came to this country, he brought with him a deep conviction that his life was to be lived so that no one should be faced with dehumanizing disregard.
Both of my grandparents were also staunch Scottish Presbyterians. And part of their legacy to my mother and to me has been the lesson that one’s faith and one’s religious practice should be about making life more just, more equitable
and closer to what God would want for all of creation.
My two quick observations are these:
You and I have sought to embody the lesson that one’s faith, religious or spiritual practice should be about making life
more just, equitable and closer to what the Divine would want for all of creation. We have done so within our religious and spiritual traditions by years and years of conversations and grace-filled encounters with those whose hearts we’ve helped transform. It is this hard work, I believe, that created the context in which the tireless and courageous faith work of the marriage equality campaign here in Minnesota possible. And, in real ways, the win would not have been possible without the faith work, our work.
The second observation is that this posture or orientation is not unique to us here in Minnesota. We are connected to the most powerful, amazing colleagues around the country. We mentioned some of the tables of religious and spiritual leaders around the country. Our efforts both draw from and breathe life into the world of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Gay Dharma. There is mystical connective tissue between The (Pentecostal) Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, the Hindu Kashi Community and our welcoming congregations and communities here in Minnesota.
And the reality is that the success we have been given the sheer privilege to witness, savor and celebrate is a gift from
our ancestors, many of whom fought and worked every day to transform their religious communities but died before they saw it come to fruition.
So, thank you for honoring me tonight. I am moved beyond words. But thank you, also, for allowing me to be part of this untamable, sacred, powerful movement that is nothing short of revolutionary.
Let me offer these words, adapted from Dawna Markova, as a kind of blessing to all of us:
May we not die an unlived life.
May we not
live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
May we choose to inhabit our
to allow our living to open us,
to make us less afraid,
to loosen our hearts
until they become wings,
May we choose to risk our significance,
to live so that which
cames to us as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to
us as blossom,
goes on as fruit.”
― adapted from Dawna Markova, I Will
Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and