Tuesday, January 08, 2008
"Abby swallowed my wedding ring."
That's what the text message from our daughter Karen said when it arrived on my cell phone at 4:18 PM yesterday.
Abby is my granddaughter. She's nineteen months old and couldn't be more unlike her six and a half year old sister, Mackie (that's the two of them above in a picture taken Thanksgiving afternoon at Llangollen in Rehoboth Beach.).
Abby is almost constant motion. She is curious about everything. And, she's loud. Very loud.
I suspect that one day in her growth and development, she looked around her house and saw her father quietly painting in his studio, her mother sitting quietly in her chair, reading a book, and her sister having a very proper tea party with her dolls in the play room and thought to herself, "Well, that will be just about enough of that!"
It was then that she opened her mouth and let out what we've come to call "The Abby Yell." There is no good, earthly reason to do this, mind you. However, you can always count on the fact that, if it gets too quiet, it won't be too long before you will hear a loud, sharp, piercing sound.
It's easy to locate the source of the clamor. Just look for a strawberry blond imp standing in the middle of the room with a self-satisfied smile on her face. That would be Ms. Abby.
She's not a bad kid. She's pretty terrific, in fact. It's just who she is and how she has learned to be herself in the constellation of the family she is in of which she is the littlest and newest member.
I mention this because, over at HOB/D (the House of Bishops/Deputies Listserv), there's been an on-going conversation about "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin." It's being spoken of as a theological position about LGBT people as if it had validity. As if it were an acceptable theological stance in the church which claims to follow The One who is Love Incarnate.
I have stayed pretty much out of it only because, after more than 30 years, I am weary of that conversation. I don't know why we even allow ourselves to have it, but I don't even have the patience to say that to folks in a civil way. So, I've learned to observe it and wait for it to go away. It usually does.
Lisa Fox over at "My Manner of Life" has responded with this essay. As the Quaker's Say, "This Friend speaks my mind."
I would only add this: Whoever it was who started this . . . 'conversation' . . . on HOB/D, and all those who have commented by means of trying to be helpful, seem to me to be very much like our Ms. Abby. Whenever it gets too quiet in the Household of God, someone's gotta send up a yell, just to make sure everyone is still paying attention. Just because it gives them a sense of power to disturb the peace. Just because it gets attention. Just because their noise creates a place that is all theirs.
It's the theological version of "The Abby Yell". There are others. "Windsor Compliant." "Orthodoxy." "Homosexual Agenda." "Reappraiser / Reasserter." "TEC is hemorrhaging members."
You know. You can make your own list.
What I've learned from Abby is that the kid's just gotta yell once in a while. Engaging her only makes it worse. She'll only yell even more. So, we let her yell. Someone will look at her and return her mischievous smile with a frown. Then, life goes on.
Oh, the ring? The antique gold ring that was her father's grandmother's wedding ring? The simple, small band of gold? The one she wore on her wedding day in Ireland?
The doctor said to give it 72 hours to see if it . . . . 'appears' . . . in her diaper. More often than not, that's how these situations resolve themselves. If not, then he'll have to talk about doing something more . . . 'invasive.'
These things have a way of working themselves out. You just have to have some patience and be willing to wade through some crap before you get your gold back. If that doesn't work, well, only then do you do something more invasive.
This is not to say that I'm not grateful for the newer voices who send out a clear message that "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin" is not a valid theological position in this great church of ours. I am. Deeply. Someone's gotta frown and show our displeasure. It's only to say that I think we can learn a lot about the 'Family of God' just by paying attention to our own.