There was one other thing that was a little unexpected for me last night. As I sat and listened to Peterson’s presentation I was thinking I was home and dry – it wouldn’t affect me as I had heard it already….. or not, as the case may be.
I was listening to the end of one the extracts that Peterson was performing, talking about Lazarus coming out of the tomb and being carefully and gently unwrapped by the disciples. I found myself weeping at this story, recognising that for me part of the role I feel fulfill for my gay Christian friends is this unwrapping. Helping them to reveal their true self; the authentic, congruent, honest, genuine, open, gentle, beautiful self that God has truly created them to be.
This story has helped me to see more clearly that like the women who stood at the tomb and wept over Lazarus, the depth of sorrow that I feel for my friends who suffer in the tomb of their denial and fear is just as profound. So often I question my place to stand alongside people, knowing that I haven’t faced the struggles they go through, that I cannot possibly understand the complexities of emotions and their fears. Yet, I cannot deny that God has called me to such a place as this.
Helping to unwrap the grave clothes of an individual does not mean that we know what the person is going to look like underneath, but God doesn’t always tell us what to expect when we follow his instructions. For me, the call has been to stand alongside, to be supportive and often to painfully reflect back honesty and truth with love, compassion and integrity.
On the website Beyond Ex-Gay Peterson includes a poem he wrote called Grave Robbers. He concludes his play Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House with it and says I end the performance by reciting this poem dedicating it to all the people who helped me to become me.
Whilst these are Peterson’s words, they are also my story.
Lazarus came forth, gleaming white,
A pillar wrapped tight outside his tomb.
Jesus looked at us, Take off the grave clothes,
And let him go.
Panic twisted my gut like a wet washrag
Wringing out courage.
Who knows how to undress a mummy raised from the dead?
Does one start at the heart or close to the head?
We circled him as if he were a bomb to diffuse.
Then we began in earnest,
Unbinding, tearing, speaking comfort as we went.
The crowd pressed in hurling advice like stones.
Lazarus stood like marble, cold from his grave,
While we sweated in the cruel sun,
Unwrapping his trappings.
But suddenly, (or did it take years?)
It was complete.
Mary and Martha washed their brother in tears:
He was free — naked and in his right mind.