Once upon a time, in a land not far from here, there was a little boy who lived with his sister and his parents in the country. He tried to be a good boy, as boys are wont to do, and one of the things he loved most was Sunday mornings.
He loved Sunday mornings so much that he would leap out of bed at first light, get dressed, and read quietly in his room until nine am – because he knew that he must not disturb The Parents. Only once he did try to creep downstairs early, and he heard noises from the bedroom… and decided to never ever ever do that again.
When nine o’clock finally arrived, this good little boy would creep downstairs, fix himself a bowl of cereal, and settle in to watch Star Trek. Eventually everyone else would come downstairs, and then his father would make pancakes. Or egg sandwiches, both of which were equally good in the boy’s eyes.
All of this changed one morning, when his mother told him there would be no Star Trek, that he should put on A Suit, and that they were Going To Church. The boy didn’t know what this meant, having never been to a church before, but he did as he was told.
There was no more Star Trek and pancakes on Sunday mornings for a long time, and the boy became resentful. His heart hardened, and he just didn’t have any energy to expend in trying to be a good boy.
The boy grew older, and still he Went To Church on Sunday mornings. He had made friends with other kids his age, and so enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow sufferers. He was never happy in this place, but he made do as best he could.
During his senior year in high school, the new pastor of this church befriended the boy, and they began to discuss Things of Import. The Pastor believed The Boy had a call to ordained ministry, but The Boy wasn’t so sure. So they talked, and they talked, and they talked – and The Boy realized that he did have a call, and so began his journey though college. He still didn’t particularly care for the church, but he cared for The Church.
The Boy had A Secret though, a Secret so grave that he kept it locked away next to his heart. The Secret sat closer to his heart than anything else – even Star Trek and Sunday morning pancakes. It was a terrible Secret, and in his second year of college he said it aloud for the first time.
“I am not The Boy,” he said to a pastor at his college. “I am The Girl, and Psychology called it Transsexualism – and that there is a process to fix the discordance between me and my body.”
The College Pastor nodded slowly, deeply in thought. “There is, yes.” The College Pastor pulled a book called “The Book of Discipline” from a shelf, and pointed out a passage, saying, “but it would mean you cannot be a minister. You’ll have to choose one or the other.”
The Boy was distraught. He was as lost as an old baseball in high weeds, and he went home to talk to The Pastor. The Pastor was gone, and The Boy became many things: soldier, correctional officer, HVAC technician, data analyst, and programmer. The Boy was also a poet, author, artist, and storyteller – all of which were skills he once hoped to use elsewhere.
After a couple of decades, The Boy decided to live true to himself. Everything he struggled to do, The Girl did effortlessly. Whereas he tried to be a good boy, she genuinely was a good girl – except she had a ferocity and tenacity of spirit born from the long struggle against herself.
She lived, and she thrived. She reclaimed the faith of her youth, found a welcoming congregation, one that accepted her and her wife as they were. It was in that congregation that The Girl found a home – and the encouragement to do the work she always wanted to do, the work she was made to do.
It is her great joy to be here, on this road, with all of you today. My name is Andrea, my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am an aspirant to Unitarian Universalist ministry, a servant with a heart born of the Social Gospel, and a first-year seminarian at Meadville-Lombard Theological School.
Ed: She may be reached via email at andrea at ourladynhytefall dot com