Rooted in Recovery and Reconciliation

He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” -Ezekiel 37:9, NIV

Once, I wandered in the desert, and while I still wander, I no longer wander aimlessly. Now I wander purposefully, seeking the spaces I am called to inhabit, seeking the people calling me to the spaces I will inhabit. Heady shit, let me tell you.

I could probably write another two thousand words like those, beautifully flowing from one phrase to the next, obscuring what I want to say with what I think I need you to hear. So I am not going to do that.

Instead, I want to talk about where I am at, what’s in my head, and how it is not all right with my soul. Let’s get sticky, shall we?

I had a lateral ligament reconstruction, with a side order of arthroscopy, on my right ankle exactly three weeks ago today. I’ve spent the majority of the last three weeks relatively immobile, and almost completely subsistent on my wife, friends, and family. It has been hell, and I’ve got three more weeks to go before I can hopefully start to return to normal activities.

Those three weeks end on 9 August, right between two conventions, MuseCon and Rooted. I am the chair of MuseCon this year, but I am going to talk about Rooted, because it is a bit more germane to the situation.

When I registered for the conference, I had trouble choosing between the “Laity” and “Clergy” options on the registration form. I chose the one that was appropriate for a seminarian, but as I did, I reflected on the grace that brought me here.

Seminary will leave no part of your soul untouched. For many, the first major hit comes in CPE, as the realities of spiritual caretaking become more than academic theoreticals. When your hands are literally touching the soul of another in the last moment of their life, there’s going to be some fallout. Dealing with that is why you are there, and that is why a full unit of CPE is requirement for ordination. As it should be.

I am not doing my CPE rotation this summer as I had planned, largely due to the aforementioned ankle surgery. My summer has instead become a time of literal and metaphorical brokenness, a song of frustration screamed into the Void at two in the morning when the narcotics wear off. My voice has become as shredded as the ligaments they took out of my ankle. My soul has been forced to rely on the generosity of others, and I have been humbled.

Which brings us to Rooted, a conference for transgender and gender-expansive Christians, hosted by the United Methodist Church’s Reconciling Ministries Network. The same church of my youth, and the same church that once told me “Choose yourself, or choose the Church.”

Attending the conference means the metaphorical reconcilation I have processed will meet the reality of actual reconciliation. To reconcile my past in this way is to build a better future by being in the present, and doing it within the actus fidei of covenant. I am both anxious and excited to be this liminal space, and when I look at it in a larger view, this conference is a microcosm of the liminality I currently exist in: the liminality of recovery, of reconciliation, of transformation.

Grace may have brought me here, but Grace didn’t do it all by itself. Grace, my friends, is not anything but the circle we choose to unbreak, and I am glad to be unbroken once more. I am glad that these bones have learned to dance as they wander in faith and service to the promised land of our consciences.