This is not an indictment. This is not a call to action. I don’t write to accuse, myself or others, or to condemn. I don’t want to use this space to discuss issues or strategies. I am not an activist, right now, or a critic. I am a writer, a Namer, and this is a Naming.
His name was Michael and he died two nights ago on the steps of Old South Church. His name was Michael, the name of the archangel, the name that is a question: “Who is like God?” His name was Michael and he was 57 years old, and he was the Beloved child of God.
Last June I walked up the steps of Old South Church, worn out and bedraggled after a ten hour nanny day, and hugged four dear friends for the first time. Laura, Mary, Glennon, and Amanda sanctified that space to me, inviting me to the front, to sit in reserved seating and to cut in line and join them at the meet-and-greet at the end. I’ve never felt so special and included in a way that somehow included everyone at the same time. My four friends have magical arms, open wide enough to wrap around hundreds at a time, leaving no one on the fringe, no one left out, no matter how tired or bedraggled. Everyone in that church was in the inner circle, everyone, and everyone outside, too. Glennon and Amanda, Laura and Mary are creating ever widening circles, arms wide, and teaching me to open my arms, wide, too.
Michael died on those church steps on Wednesday morning. I don’t know if he had family or friends, I don’t know who else will write a lament for him. I do know that Rev. John Edgerton remained with his body to keep vigil as the ambulance was called, throughout the time the police and medical examiner were present, and until the body was removed, and I know that Old South Church together with Ecclesia Ministries – Common Cathedral are working on an outdoor memorial service for him, so I know that he will be named and mourned there. But I wanted to tell all who will listen that his name was Michael and he died on sacred ground. His name was Michael and he is part of the inner circle. His name was Michael and there is place up front saved for him, and open arms, and I know this, I know, because there was a place saved for me.
And you, reading this, what are you doing in the back, lingering in the shadows, when there is a place saved for you, as well? Come, come in, you are welcome here, too. Even if you have broken your vows a hundred times. There is a spot for you in the very first row, carefully marked with your name only, carefully saved for you. Come, come again, Beloved, child of God, come.
Rest in peace, Michael, Beloved, child of God. Rest in peace in the wide arms of God.
*October, 21st, 2016 – I went to hear Eliel Cruz speak in Boston last night, and he extended the same wide-armed invitation to all the beautiful LGBTQ folks who may be not feel that they are being offered a place in their community. Beloved, child of God, come to the front where you belong.