I, and I think both A & D (I don’t want to put words into their mouths), have spoken quite a bit recently about those glimmers of hope that make things alright and give us the strength to go on. Finding a source of support amongst a gaggle of criticism and renunciation, seeing a play or a movie that gives us hope in the midst of ignorant comments, and finding the beauty in the collectiveness of what is indeed instability, and–in that–surprisingly finding some stability.

I had yet another experience of this, and have been so thankful since.

On Friday evening, I went to a potluck dinner for the Divinity School Women’s Center. Almost immediately, I felt a sense of hope, of safety and solidarity. Here were other women (and men… well, one guy was there) who cared about the voice women in the church have and how that voice is so stifled, women who are strong and do not feel called to be subordinate, women who understand how they have been opressed, and therefore understand how others have been oppressed, on that same basis of gender, and also on the basis of race, class, and sexuality. These women participate in a collective instability of sorts, one that gives them great strength.

During the course of the evening, we shared. We shared our experiences in the divinity school… the glimmers of hope that we have seen and the areas in which we still feel hopeless. I was able to share about my experience of frustration with a classmate over the subordination of women (see past blog: A Day in the Life) to the reaction of stunned faces rather than the reaction of “she’s right!”or confusion. Others were also able to share their experiences… their frustration with those who will only refer to God as “He”, their pain at the lack of interest of their peers at these vital matters of equality, their musings of pain and hope in the years past. We shared, and I felt not so alone.

In this sharing, I was able to share myself… to speak my reality… that I am a lesbian at a divinity school.

It was the second time in the 66 days that I have been in divinity school that I have felt real support and care (shout out to Elizabeth for time #1). Yes, others have been kind, I do not want to diminish the goodness others’ have shown me. The sincere questions asked by those in my spiritual formation group, the outrage at the rock throwing incident by those in my pastoral care class, the genuine questions and wholehearted support of my small group. I have yet to have an experience (minus the stupid rock throwing, but that doesn’t count because I didn’t know them) that was negative. I have received no hostility and that has been a blessing.

But, in a way, I have been settling. Nesting myself in a place of question and speculation. Always wondering… what do they really think of me? Will this effect our friendship in the long run? What happens when I want to get married (this is a long long way down the road, mind you. Gotta find someone to marry first 🙂 ). But, when that does happen, would these friends come to my wedding? Or would that be where they draw the line? And, what do they think of my spirituality? Do they believe that I am living in sin? Maybe this is not the case, maybe I need to give people more credit, but the reality is that many of my friends do not feel the same way as I do about the sanctity of same-sex relationships. And that is TOTALLY OK. I would rather people be honest with me, and that we navigate this controversial issue as friends, and maybe even agree to disagree. I absolutely need those people in my life (shout out to Trigger!).

But at the same time, I need more. I need support. I need to not feel like I am less than. I need a safe place to vent. I need to feel not alone…

I had known coming into this divinity school thing that it was going to be a difficult time and that I would have to fight some battles. What I did not realize was that I could not fight them alone. How silly and arrogant of me!

These moments of hope that I have experienced throughout my time here, they have assuaged my thirst for support. I have had sips of water when I have been dying of thirst, and I am so grateful for those drinks. But this experience this weekend was more than a sip. I found a fountain, and my thirst was not just assuaged, but quenched. I was not just satisfied, but filled.

Appendum: These experiences of support, lack thereof, and everything in between, have been directly connected to my experiences at divinity school. While this tension of opinions also exists at my church (at almost any church), I have felt a great sense of support from people there. (Didn’t want to not give credit where credit was due.)