How did I get here?
How does a feisty south Jersey girl, an academically-minded English teacher and divorced mom of three, start reading the Bible and writing about God and Christianity and confessing she fell in love with Jesus?
Dear God, what the hell happened?
A lot. What felt like too much, at times. It took losing nearly everything that mattered to me, a completely shattered vision of my future, to break me down, to make it so I had nothing but faith to get by on. And that faith kept changing. That concept of God kept becoming questioned.
It got so bad that I had nothing left, and I knew it was my faith in a Higher Order that was keeping me alive, that was making me strong. It was my belief in unabiding love, and being able to acknowledge that love was coming to me even in my darkest moments, even when I was in the midst of terrible despair. It was my mother sticking by me, doing whatever was in her power not to let me fall. And my mother is kind of disgusted by all this talk of God.
For pretty much my whole life, I carried anger and resentment about the way religion was handled, and I wanted no parts of it. I didn’t grow up in any church setting, but I watched from the sidelines, and I saw the way people used religion for their own ends, to judge people, to push agendas. Politics in this country is a mess, and the weaving of Christianity with the political process makes me want to throw up. And the very people who say the name of Jesus and pronounce their faith and Christianity are often the people who worship money and leave the poor homeless, who worship their own bank accounts rather than giving back to those less fortunate. So while I knew in theory this was all hypocrisy, and that Jesus was about love for your neighbor instead of stepping on your neighbor’s head to get into your fancy garage, I didn’t want to associate myself with anything to do with religion, Christianity, or Jesus. I didn’t want to be in that group. So I stood on the sidelines and watched and went to Quaker worship instead. But Quakers, while I love them (and I belong to a community of really wonderful people), also by and large suffer from a paternalistic attitude of “we know better, we do better than the rest.”
The people who inspire me most are people who live according to a personal compass of kindness and compassion without clinging to any ideology. Those are the people who teach me, again and again, that God has nothing to do with an organized structure, with a bunch of words in a book. God is just in everything, the gold that is spun at our fingertips in every interaction. And you don’t have to put a label on it to make it so. And you don’t have to say the word “God” to be full of goodness.
Yet, despite what I know—which is that many people within organized religion are no better, no wiser, no closer to God than anyone else—I am me: a seeker of understanding, a writer, a teacher. And the one thing that has held true for me, no matter my stage in life, is my desire to go deeper, to unfold, to understand and make sense of the way human beings operate, the laws that govern the universe. Karma, goodness, love, energy, healing. I’m fascinated. I love people. And if I were to let go of this kind of seeking, I would let go of the essence of who I am.
So here I am. This is me. Reading the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.
When we push the buttons of Scripture instead of being scared of it, when we approach it from a basis of deep contemplation/meditation that is folded into the fabric of our days, it opens its doors. What else is like this? It is as though we have many layers inside us, and God, the Soul Mate, the Life Partner, meets us wherever we are. If we are literal-minded, looking for clear-cut answers because we struggle with personal discernment, we will find clear-cut approaches when we read. But as we go deeper, asking intense questions, genuinely seeking understanding in all areas of Life, Scripture becomes what St. Teresa of Avila calls the interior castles inside of us, temples and temples of opening doors to understanding. Reading with a hard head doesn’t get you beneath those arches. Only contemplation and meditation does.
So when the Lord is talking to Jeremiah about big plans for his future as a prophet, we see a young person feeling pretty insecure, feeling like he’s not up to the challenge of this calling in life.
And why would we assume Jeremiah has a penis? How do we know Jeremiah doesn’t have a vagina? Or both?
I think Jeremiah may have both.
Jeremiah is perhaps a hermaphrodite, one of the most brilliant of God’s creations, because within a hermaphrodite is the seed of wholeness, of the merging of masculine and feminine energies within one body and spirit, which leads us to the promised land.
And those who are transgender, transsexual, hermaphroditic, have so much to teach us about the ways of the New World, the New Word, the place we are going that is going to save us all from the wretchedness of what’s currently happening in this country and beyond.
God has big plans for Jeremiah, the transgender prophet. Jeremiah who was born perceived as a girl, but who identifies as a boy, and who is dressing up for school in boy clothes, and is being made fun of all the time, and who is an outcast, and who is told by a lot of creepy types that he/she is a problem, a freak of society.
God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
And Jeremiah is like, Woah, that’s intense. I just want to eat my cheese sandwich at the lunch table with this girl I like.
So Jeremiah responds, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But God says, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”
And then God reaches out and caresses Jeremiah, touching her cheeks and her lips to remind her how beautiful she is. And God says, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah shakes her head. Tall order. I just want to be me.
What she doesn’t realize is that in being totally, truly herself/himself, she is speaking a message. She is living the New Word/New World.
So Jeremiah starts trekking through her suburb, and her city, and she pays more attention to her surroundings than she used to.
So God checks in. Okay, love. Tell me what you see?
“I see a pot that is boiling. It is tilting toward us from the north.” In other words, Things are getting intense. All hell is breaking loose!
“Yes, God says, and sighs. “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms. Their kings will come and set up their thrones. They will come against all her surrounding walls. I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me. In burning incense to other gods, and in worshiping what their hands have made.”
Who are these other gods, you ask? Just turn on the news. I think there’s an impeachment situation happening. And other stuff that is a mess.
Jeremiah is shaking her head, like, This stuff is just crazy, can I just go play video games?
But God reminds Jeremiah who she is, why she’s special.
“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.”
Jeremiah is like, Jeez. Okay. Fine.
So Jeremiah keeps doing her thing. And on her journey, she discovers there are many more like her. There are those who were born one thing, and discovered they were something else. There were those who are gentle and kind, but they don’t fit in, because they don’t look the part. The more people Jeremiah meets, in fact, the more she sees and uncovers this beauty that’s everywhere, in all creatures, but was for a long time hidden. And these newly revealed people are brave. They show up as all of who they are, and they persist, and they don’t back down, and they don’t hide in a corner, even when small-minded people hiss and snicker like living shadows.
These brave ones, these ones who stand strong in their skin, are our prophets, our beauties, our emblems that show a necessary falling away of the old, and a rising of the new.
Sweet Jeremiah, chosen one. May you take steps that heal the world. We really need it.