All day I have discussed the issue of Cardinal Dolan being the Grand Marshall at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I’ll be honest, I have no clue what a Grand Marshall does and I don’t know any history on this parade or any of the people who have fought to carry a gay banner in it.
Like all my posts, this is my point of view, I may be right, I may be wrong. I may be a little of both. The only way that I can really hash things out in my head is by writing, so if you are kind enough to read this, please keep in mind that I’m not your enemy, no matter if you are gay or Catholic or gay and Catholic or hate gays and Catholics or hate Gay Catholics. Whatever, I am just a woman who can’t stop thinking, who is Catholic and loves gay people. I’m lucky to know a lot of them and I call some of them my friends.
There’s so much to hash out. I was asking God to help me figure things out and then somehow ended up at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting full of strangers that I don’t know. I looked over and there was a gay couple holding hands. This is how God answers my prayers.
As some of you may know, I am starting a non-profit named The Red Door Foundation. The whole vision is to have a place where people can come and feel loved. I want to have a library, a 12 step program, tutoring for kids after school, food, a closet, and free counseling. Just for starters. There is so much that I have in mind. First, I need money and a house. Then we can go from there. It’s gonna be a lot of hard work, but it’s something that I know God is calling me to do. I know its God because when I walked into that room tonight I remembered that I hate strangers. I don’t much care for people I don’t know hugging me either. My angel quickly reminded me that I am now technically the director of a non-profit that’s mission is to help strangers and welcome them, so I ought to get used to strangers being around.
I sat down with all these thoughts running through my head about how I didn’t belong there. I’m not a drug addict. I hate drugs. I smoked pot once and thought I was dying because I thought I had forgotten how to breathe. I have had issues with drinking before, I got a DWI in 2009, but it was more of an issue with me making Grey Goose my god than it was with addiction. (There is a difference, I’m just not gonna get into it now.) I haven’t gotten behind the wheel after drinking a drop of anything since the night I was arrested. And I no longer have to drink to cope with life. Either way, I didn’t belong in a group of people who are addicted to drugs. Yet, there I sat.
I felt like I was better than all of those people. Until they started sharing. What I heard when they told their story was that they have lived life feeling like they weren’t loved, accepted or cared for. They found that in this group and in these 12 steps. Each one of them encountered God as they “know Him” and when they talked about Him, I recognized Who they were talking about. Even though they aren’t Catholic, and even though they know nothing about the teachings of the Catholic Church, they have encountered God. They have encountered Him in a non-Catholic place. That encounter is changing their lives. Maybe they are still in a gay relationship, but at-least they aren’t high. Maybe they got high yesterday, but tonight at that moment, they were in a meeting saying they need help from God in a group of fellow addicts instead of getting high again.
I know this journey. It is the journey of redemption. Not getting high, drunk or whatever someone’s greatest vice is a cross to carry. As Catholics we are supposed to help people carry their cross, like Simon helped Jesus carry His, not add more weight to it. Why are these people looking for this help outside of the Church? They each answered that question in their own way without me even asking, because they didn’t feel welcome as they are. That is a tragedy. I didn’t think that people would accept me when I first walked into RCIA. In fact, I tried everything I could to push people to reject me so that I could walk away and say I tried. I don’t know why I ended up at my Parish where the people took me in like a wounded bird, but I did. I owe them so much for everything they did for me.
When you are in that place of chaos you are exhausted and people demanding anything from you is overwhelming. When you have been fighting all your life, you need someone to just listen to you. To accept you, not your actions, not condone your destructive behaviors but just you, and that is how you come to understand what you need to do. You become capable of solving your own problems. You start searching for truth on your own, for yourself. That is when God starts dropping bread crumbs that lead you Home. Kind of like trapping cats with a box. That is why Jeremiah says “You duped me Lord”, because He does.
I followed my bread crumbs to get Stacey to marry me and God trapped me like a cat. He brought me in the house, bathed me, treated me for fleas, fed me and gave me a bowl of milk. Now He is letting me go outside little by little. I know where my home is though because I know where to find milk. The Church is the house, the Eucharist is the milk.
I understand that people do not get why gay people want to march in this parade. I get that people think that Cardinal Dolan is scandalizing everyone by being there. But maybe he is just trying to be a bread crumb for God’s plan. And maybe “the gays” just want a little acknowledgement that they aren’t the scum of the earth in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Someone said that they need to know what the Church teaches about homosexuality. I agree that there is a lot of misconception about that, but one thing is for sure, everyone knows that Catholics believe that homosexual acts are a sin. Everyone. We need to do a better job at explaining the rest of it.
It’s not our job to tell Cardinal Dolan how to discern this situation for him. It is our job to be a witness of Christ. That does not mean doing whatever it takes to prove a point or to be right. There are greater things than being right. Salvation is not about being right, it is about being loved. Salvation is about bringing people into an encounter with God. Where is that encounter in this parade situation? I don’t know. I’m sure God does, and that is all that matters. I don’t need to know everything, He has it covered. I had my encounter with God in a parking lot after hearing a great man talking about how God loved me scandalously. His words opened my heart to be open to that encounter. Maybe Cardinal Dolan taking all this heat from Catholics for not removing himself from this parade will open someone’s heart to be open to an encounter with God. I don’t have to know how it’s going to all work out, I just have to have faith that God can write with crooked lines.
I saw people encountering God tonight. I saw God meet them where they are without condition. I was so wrong to think that I didn’t belong there.