The summer after I graduated from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, I was in the running for a grant that would have paid for most of my schooling at a Baptist seminary where I was enrolling in the fall. I was in the National Guard, and one of the state chaplains suggested that I consider the chaplain candidate program. As soon as I was in school, I could jump up to being a second lieutenant chaplain candidate.
All at once I had a nice path to a career, a life. It made sense and was something I knew I was totally capable of doing.
All I had to do was pretend I wasn’t a woman, that I wasn’t trans.
God gave me a push. Instead of attending a Baptist seminary, I moved to Boston, joined the Episcopal Church, and transitioned.
In today’s reading, we have Mary headed off on an adventure that she wasn’t expecting. It’s one thing to be told by an angel that the God of the Universe has shown you special favor to bring His son into the world, but it’s another thing to be a pregnant teenager on the road to the hill country of Judea, totally unsure of what’s going to happen next.
There was a moment in the spring of 2008, I was living in a poorly insulated attic in Brookline, Massachusetts. I had $15 in my checking account, and I had just found out that the Army had extended my contract without my consent through the stop-loss program, and that I was going for a tour in Iraq.
Times like that, on the road or in the attic, it is extremely hard to see the Holy in your situation. The trick, I think, is that we get to see the Spirit in each other. I kept meeting people I loved, people like my friend Becky, who I call my sister; or like Cameron, one of the first trans people to be ordained a priest; or like the people in my congregation at Saint Luke’s and St Margaret in Allston, Massachusetts.
Mary comes in and sees Elizabeth, the growing child leaps for joy, everyone knows they are blessed, that the Holy Spirit is moving, and that the world is being reshaped into something new and strange and wonderful. Mary and Elizabeth see the work of the divine in one another, and in that see hope and joy.
It can be hard to remember that we are all agents in God’s breaking into the world, but we all get to see each other as the blessing, and in seeing one another, and knowing how we are seen by each other, understand how we are the work of God, how there is always a hope toward which we move.
Dear Lord, thank you for not putting us into this world alone, but instead surrounding us with love and hope.