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Hear the Voice of My Supplication

Kathy Douglass

Scripture: Psalm 116:1, 10-17

I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.


Today is Pride Sunday, in the middle of Pride month, where the Stonewall Uprising is commemorated and we honor the LGBTQ members of our human family, we remember them, we pray for them, as even today, in many circles, their lives and well-being remain threatened. We thank and celebrate them and recognize the impact of their lives and their gifts. All around the world, Pride is marked by gatherings and festivals, events offering resources, education and connection, all to lift up the beloved LGBTQ community, of which I am, gratefully, a part.


I’m a little disappointed today, because if not for the pandemic, Rev. Sara had planned to invite us to gather in the park blocks downtown and be a voice and a presence of love and welcome in the Pride parade. I imagine she’d wear her shirt that says “This Queer Pastor Loves You." Next year, hopefully.


I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.


Supplication is kind of a churchy word to me, not a word I hear often outside of a religious context. So, I did what I do when I want to explore and dig deeper – I Googled it! Supplication means to beg for something earnestly or humbly. I love the Lord because he heard me begging.


When I was a little girl, I wondered if I was different. I was 6, 7 years old, and I had no name for it, no comprehension, I just knew in my little girl gut that something about me was not the same as my little girl friends. This wondering, in time, became a gnawing, and this gnawing, in time, became a knowing. And this knowing, became a secret… a burdensome and sometimes frightening secret that I wrestled with until late in high school when it became clear to me what the secret held: that I am gay.


That clarity came, at first, as no relief to me at all. I was so alone in it, and could not imagine a soul I could tell.


Except for God. And I did tell God, over and over, I talked to God all about it, and my begging prayers evolved, depending on how confining the walls of the closet that I’d hidden myself in felt. The faith tradition I was raised in was not tolerant, certainly not welcoming of a gay teenager. So, I cried out to God: O God, help me keep this secret. O God, don’t let anybody find out. O God, please don’t send me to hell like the pastor says. O God, please take this away. O God, how can I tell my mom? O God, do you still love me? O God, can I still sing and play at church? O God, please help me find the courage to be who I am. O God, please help me live from a place of authenticity, to celebrate, to love who you’ve created me to be. Begging, begging, begging.


I love the Lord because he heard the voice of my supplication, my begging, because he inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.


I didn’t find the courage to tell anyone that I am gay until I was in my 20s. I sat on my corner of Jack and Judy’s couch – side note: if you spend enough years with Jack and Judy, eventually you do get to claim a corner of the couch as your own – I clutched a pillow to my chest, heaved and sobbed and stammered until the words came tumbling out of me.


My story was met with their grace and care that lovingly washed over my scared and aching soul like salve on a festering wound. My secret loosened its grip, and I began, baby step by baby step, to see myself as beloved, not an abomination, not horribly mistaken about God’s love or about my own identity. Thirty years have passed since I said those words out loud, but in some ways, I am still in the process of coming out… giving myself permission to continue to become all that God had in mind when I was knit together, to rattle and unlock the knobs of the closet doors that I still find it easy to hide behind, to settle in deeply to God’s transforming love and show up for my life without hesitation, without fear.


I wonder today, what is your supplication? What you are begging God for? What is the wondering, the gnawing, the knowing in you that perhaps has gripped you in the form of a secret? What is your anger, what is your fear? What is your disappointment? What is your dream, what is your hope, what is your longing? Is there a closet door you are hiding behind, afraid that if the truth were known of how you feel, who you are, what you want, that the revealing of that truth would begin an unraveling that can’t be contained? What is the story that might cause you to clutch a pillow to your own chest and heave and sob and stammer until you could say the words?


I want to invite us today into the freedom of supplication, the relief of humbly and earnestly begging God. It is exhausting to keep secrets, to hide, to pretend, to measure every word and reaction. The closet walls close in and the receding space drains us of life and hope and joy.


I want to invite us to claim our corner of the couch, to tell our truth, to feel in our own gut the power and peace of sacred presence that is inclining toward us, so desiring to hear what we need to finally say.


There are so many longings tied up with this pandemic. So many ways we hope that it will come to an end, that its destruction of lives will cease. One of my hopes is that Pride Sunday 2021 will find us gathered in the park blocks, marching in the Pride Parade, taking in all the wild and wonderful things that Pride offers, embodying the beautiful St. Luke’s welcome to our beloved LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Maybe I’ll wear a shirt that says, “This Queer Liturgical Composer Loves You”. Oh, I do love you. Thank you for welcoming and loving me. Thank you, my beloved St. Luke’s family, for being the answer to my prayer, “O God, will I still get to play and sing at church?” “Yes, Kathy, yes. You still get to sing and play at church.”


I love the Lord because he heard the voice of my supplication, because he inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.


Amen.

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