Monday, October 13, 2014

Blurring Faces (Exodus 3:1-6)

So it is with queer spirituality, any encounter with God is first and foremost an encounter with Self-love that leads us into honoring and calling as worthy all which we were told to fear and even loath about ourselves.

     Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn't the bush burning up? 
     When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, "Moses, Moses!"
     "Here I am," he answered.
     "Do not come closer," (God) said. "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then (God) continued, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Exodus 3:1-6


     Gazing at the picture of Nick Field I am brought into some mystery. His hidden face both reveals and conceals who he is. He's a performer, possibly gay given the context of the website I originally found the picture on, other than the fact that he happens to be Caucasian and bald there is little else I know about him. All else is hidden. Is he content with his life? What brings him joy? What makes him sad? How heavy are his anxieties? These are hidden away. To be honest a picture of Nick without his mask would tell me no more than the one above. I would need to enter into a friendship with Nick to understand what makes him tick.

     The call of Moses follows a similar path. Upon encountering the Sacred, Moses wants to hide his face. Through a series of exchanges which follow this passage, the Holy in Moses seeks to motivate him toward the task of liberation. At each turn Moses demurs pointing out a fault within himself that prevents him from acting on these inklings and prodding of the Spirit. An entire people wait in slavery to be liberated but Moses is busy hiding his face.

     The temptation to blur our faces when times are tough and ornery is strong. Concerns over being rejected and over personal safety cause us to pause. One does not exit the closet without calculating the risks. Although attitudes are changing, people still treat us differently when they become aware of our place in sexual or gender diversity. Certain religious voices still teach that how God treats queers is very different from how God treats straight people. So it is natural that we might hide our faces, blurring them, as on some amateur video, so our true identity is concealed.

     It seems that the Sacred will have none of this. One way of understanding the symbolism of Moses removing his sandals is so he might be grounded in his own holiness. A holiness not created by Moses, but rather of which he partakes as he enters into all that is sacred - even sacred about himself. The call of Moses is a call to Self-love, to honor and see as worthy that which he has feared and loathed about himself. So it is with queer spirituality, any encounter with God is first and foremost an encounter with Self-love that leads us into honoring and calling as worthy all which we were told to fear and even loath about ourselves. 

     There is a strain of spirituality that indicates that to know God is to know ourselves for there is no exploration of the Sacred outside an exploration of ourselves. For many a queer person that exploration has been denied us due to our sexual and gender diversity. The story of Moses is an invitation to move beyond the voices of this world and to listen to the voice of the Heart.