tonight, after a remarkable mid-week service of healing at Cathedral of Hope UCC, the Voices of Hope closed with an “out of left field” (or so i thought at the time) 90s gospel hymn by Dorothy Norwood, Somebody Prayed For Me:
“My mother prayed for me
Had me on her mind
Took the time and prayed for me
I’m so glad she prayed.
I’m so glad she prayed.
I’m so glad she prayed for me.”
you see, as if the opening music hadn’t been inspiring enough, we watched our friends Jeffery and Katherine act out a scene from Angels in America where the crescendo was in Harper’s comment to Prior, a gay man dealing with life with AIDS:
“Deep inside you, there’s a part of you, the most inner part, that’s entirely free from disease.”
while the play itself dealt with the tragic effects of the AIDS crisis on those who suffered from it, our pastor Jim paralleled this compassionate statement as
“the heart of the gospel.”
you see, a lot of us who’ve grown up knowing we were gay and have been hated, demeaned, bullied, or treated like a second-class citizen, feel as though we’re diseased. we’re encouraged to find a cure–as if it’s something that can be cured–and for many, eschewed if we do not. and those of us who’ve sinned against our bodies or others or against God often feel diseased as well, as if those things are huge millstones we bear around our necks.
while Jim’s call wasn’t about the issue of homosexuality not being a sin (Note: it’s not; click here.), it was about letting go of things about ourselves that we regret–pain we’ve caused others and/or our ourselves–and realizing our inherent loveliness and love-worthiness. And, straight or gay, to put all that past behind us, abandon shame, and ask, specifically, for healing–whatever the need might be.
after the service, i saw my friend Lynn and went to hug him. Lynn was a long-time friend of my biological mother, Cher. when i was going through a tough time as an out gay man, she connected me with him for some advice and counsel. he’s been there for me since she passed and it was quite a surprise to meet him last year at CoH once I started attending.
after our greeting tonight, he just stood there and smiled at me. then he shared:
I sat behind you and watched you tonight. Years ago, your mother had asked me to look out for you. How remarkable it is to know that years later, I would know you and be able to sit behind you and watch your life.
(or something like that.)
anyone who knew Gloria, knows that she prayed for us boys and the grandkids every single day, probably multiple times; and everyone who knew Cher knows that Michael and I were the prides of her life and that we were constantly in her prayers.
how remarkable it is to see the prayers of my mothers lived out in front of my very eyes. to know that i am thus shielded–even to this day–by the powerful words they uttered thousands of times on my behalf. connected to so many wonderful people placed very deliberately–specifically–in my path and the paths of my sons. my mothers’ love was unconditional and their resolve to love me unshakable. they didn’t always understand me or know how to cope with me but they always loved me.
like Lynn shared with me in reflection of Jim’s message, we are all of us good, just like our mothers thought we were when they dressed us up for and took us to church. sure, we’ve made mistakes along the way, but ultimately we are still good. they knew that part inside of us that’s “free from disease,” free from any pain or heartache or mistake.
and they always, without ceasing, prayed for us.
i’m so glad she prayed for me.