Roll away your stone, I will roll away mine

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m into the moon. I have a waxing crescent tattooed on the inside of my right ankle to symbolize an increasing towards fullness–a moving forward and a hope of more to come. I got that tattoo two years ago on April 10th–the anniversary of my father’s death–because new life is constantly emerging from pain. This year, the anniversary was on a full moon. I believe in Sunday Resurrections, the transformation that comes from walking through suffering with a patient trust, hope, and surrender. I choose Christianity because of this very cycle of resurrection, because of a God who didn’t so much die for us but is instead continually dying with us–in our pain and in our suffering–as we die to ourselves. In solidarity with complete and overwhelming Love. Richard Rohr says ,”It is always ‘we,’ in our youth, in our beauty, in our power and over-protectedness that must be handed over. Otherwise, we will never grow up, big enough to ‘eat’ of the Mystery of God and Love. It really is about ‘passing over’ to the next level of faith and life. And that never happens without some kind of ‘dying to the previous levels’.”

I read a post from Glennon Doyle Melton which puts it like this: First comes the pain, then the waiting, then the rising. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. This cycle is at the heart of my faith. It gives me real hope. Not just a vague belief that “all will work out,” but rather a certainty that all things have a deeper meaning no matter how they turn out. This cycle allows me to look back at my life and understand, and to live forward with hope.

Because Jesus disrupted the status quo by shamelessly owning who and what He loved, because Jesus trusted in a deeper meaning and bigger picture, I am given motivation and courage to be honest in the same way. You may remember that one thing I let go of for Lent was other people’s perceptions of me. I’ve always relied on external affirmation to validate my worthiness–I think a lot of us do. I don’t think we are to blame. Andrea Gibson says, “It is no measure of good health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.” I was well-adjusted, yes, but deeply out of touch with my True Self, that real holiness we all contain. For Lent, I made a firm and deliberate decision to at least practice re-adjustment. To at least start the process of unlearning my self that is shaped by the world. And to start believing the Love that’s calling my name.

Being honest will piss people off and their reactions can sting, especially when they are tied up in religion or family systems. The truth will set you free but it’ll piss you off first, right? We’ve got to wade through the murky Fridays and Saturdays before Sunday Truth rolls around. It was my intention during Lent to stand strong and grounded despite external forces and practice equanimity. The very intention was enough to make a difference. I was able to tell my truths over and over again. I keep telling them. The cycle tells me that it will hurt, but my God there is hope. My God it will be beautiful when Sunday rolls around. Anne Lamott said, “Easter means you can put the truth in a grave but you can’t keep it there.” With that said, here’s something I wrote months ago.

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal or shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect.” – Audre Lorde

I have so much story that I need to tell. I swallow the truth so often that I’m afraid it’ll kill me, still clogged in my throat, unspoken. It is time for you to know me better. There’s so much of me that I want you to know. There are bridges to be built. I think it’s due time we get on that.

My YAV year has been all kinds of hard and beautiful. I can tell you about intentional community living and my work placement and this crazy city. You will read my blog posts and feel like you’re getting a glimpse into my year. And that’s because you are. I intend to write true and clear. But I feel a disconnect. I feel a disconnect because I’m letting you see true reflections in the prisms of my life, but I’m keeping an essential part of me from you. I thought it was for my protection. Your reactions may wound me. You may feel uncomfortable. You may have questions. You may not approve. I thought I needed privacy and protection from your responses.

Here’s my conclusion: That’s epic BS. My silence will not protect me. Your silence will not protect you. Audre Lorde said that. I believe it, too. Maybe you’ll misunderstand me and your reactions will hurt me. But that’s a hurt I can stand. After all, I am not responsible for your discomfort. My self-inflicted hurt, my own cruel suppression, that’s the real crime.

Listen closely so you hear me when I say that I am loving her. In this moment. She is earnest and kind, thoughtful and deliberate. She has a sense of humor, too, thank God. She is important to me and I want you to know.  We’ve chosen each other and we keep choosing each other. My life is more full with her in it. She has increased my capacity to love. And love will change the world.

There’s the Truth. The truth that’s become too important not to tell.

I’m learning so much this year. So much about communication and social justice and vocation and community. But radical self-acceptance and love is the greatest of them all. Owning my queerness, owning the things and people I love, feels like freedom. Hear me when I say it again. My capacity to love, to love well, has expanded.

Don’t you dare tell me that’s anything but beautiful. But even if you do, I’ll be okay.

One thought on “Roll away your stone, I will roll away mine

  1. Lindsey Windrow says:

    Riley,
    Finding your voice, your true being emerging is beautiful and transformational. Let it roll, with your wisdom and strength to ground you. You are strong and very wise beyond your years. I love you and know that your pain has opened you to much depth and growth. Sharing your journey, your thoughts, your insights – profoundly helpful and inspirational to others. You are helping to provide the landscape of truth, vulnerability and love. ?

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