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Reflections of a Lay Episcopal Lesbian
What a beautiful day we had for Pride Day in Boise, Idaho! Clear blue
skies, nice warm temperatures, no counter demonstrators. What! No counter
demonstrators?! Yes, for the first time in 15 years of Pride Parades we had
no counter demonstrators.
I don't think this was because Idaho suddenly has become a warm, accepting
place for LGBT's. The Idaho Republican Party voted to "use all means
possible" to prevent acceptance of gay marriage the same week as our Pride
Maybe protesting got too boring for our counter demonstrators. Hate became
old hat. Or maybe the hate burned them out.
Hate is the great destroyer. It destroys the object of hatred and the one
emitting the hatred. Those who hate either dry up into empty shells or burn
out. Rumi, the Sufi mystic said of the Muslim fanatics of his day, "They are all
fire and no light. All husk and no kernel."
Jesus was very wise in saying "love your enemies" instead of the old way of
hating your enemies. (Matthew 5: 43,44). He knew that hatred does nothing
to bring forth God's compassion in the world. It also destroys compassion
in the one doing the hating.
The book, Fo-Sho-Hing-Tsan-King: A Life of Buddha, states, "Conquer your foe
by force, you increase his enmity; conquer by love, and you will reap no
It is good for activists for any cause, however right and loving, to
meditate frequently and often on these sayings. It is too darn easy to see
an enemy as an obstacle or worse. Unfortunately this is the common teaching
of our culture. It is part of our cultural conditioning. It will take work
and grace to overcome this.
The good news is, the opportunities to practice love of one's enemies abound
for lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals and gays. This is good news because
tolerance, compassion can only be learned from one's enemies.
The Dalai Lama says, "One of the most important practices is that of
tolerance, patience. Tolerance can be learned only from an enemy; it cannot
be learned from your guru. ... However, when you meet your enemy who is
really going to hurt you, then, at that moment you can learn tolerance.
Shantideva makes a beautiful argument; he says that one's enemy is actually
a good spiritual guide because in dependence upon an enemy one can cultivate
patience, and in dependence upon patience one accumulates great power of
There is a fundamental reality that underlies these teachings. We are all
one. I am not separate from you, dear reader. You are not separate from me.
We are not separate from Jerry Farwell, George W. Bush, the Pope or the next
person we see.
If we hate someone else, we hate ourselves. There is no greater hell than
self-hatred. I know this from personal experience.
The good news is because we all are one, we are one with God, who is Love.
To overcome the hell of hatred, we only need to surrender to Love. In
opening to this Love, who loves us more than we can think or imagine, we can
grow in love for everyone.
Again, I speak from experience. As I have experienced God's love for me, I
have grown in my ability to love others. I have not perfected this by any
means. This surrender is a process, not a deed to be done once and for all.
The thing is to enter the process, to walk the path. Why not enter this
process? It is the path to Joy.
Debbie Graham is a native Idahoan who lives with her beloved partner, Teresa, in Boise, Idaho. She writes a monthly spirituality column for Diversity, Idaho's Monthly LBGT news magazine. She is a Lay Eucharistic minister at St. Michael's Episcopal Cathedral in Boise, Idaho. She also leads a Centering Prayer Group and teaches classes on Centering Prayer and the Spiritual Journey.
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