Pastoral Letter

8699828939_8a53b785ab_bBy Laurel Dykstra

in those days before the flood
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage

My scarred and raging
weary-eyed beloveds

ordinary defiant
with your teaching-outfit selfies
purple hair
fancy waistcoats
songs in a new range
carpentry projects
magic card tricks
raspberry canes

You are magnificent

Like mountain peaks
like hospitable oak trees
like shy deer and uncurling ferns

The beauty and courage of your terrified first kisses
rainbow binders
new names/reclaimed ancient names
longing glances
outpatient visits
angry truth-telling
patchwork families
joy in your bodies

Stops me in awe.

But the powers are fallen
you knew that, right?
they live to serve themselves, and cannot do otherwise
The Prophet exists to sell itself, you silly girl.

Of course the institution does not love you,
it is a machine
that can only love itself
and appear to love what feeds it.
Remember what Sinead and Jesus told us?
if they hated me they will hate you.

Your tears
swell the glacier water rising
staining your gown
grandmother’s lace
While seabirds choke on deflated balloons never released

The church
(and truth be told, we also are the church)
stand Mute while
Attawapiskat water is twenty years poison
BSA agents card and detain brown bodies on Toronto streets
cedars dry out and turn brown, even the lofty cedars
red dresses flap in breezes, unseasonably hot
and the blood of Colten
cries out to heaven from the ground

Beloveds, Sacrament is all around you
and all those croziers can claw back is the outward and visible
that blesses those who resemble or can conform
Blessed are those who pass
A benediction cheap as plastic pride beads
and stained with the same exploitation
Conferred on those who have one to choose
or have chosen only one

The brocade shouldered shrug off what they think they know
but they cannot deny what you give yourself to
who you love
how many
or how often
nor the rag-tag fabulous, made-up family that carries your love

They cannot

Like Lewis’ dwarfs blind in the dark
they are fighting over a bit of old turnip

So remember their yes (and our celebration of it) could only have been
for those most able to conform
a children’s table seat at the collusion of church and state

So cry, rage weep, storm
Your sweet, hurt hearts open enough to offer them your hope

But know that the trees
the water
the land
embrace you
surround you and hold you up
they always have

Fall into that and be upheld
and then come
outside-be gay do crimes-
into the freedom you are promised

lose everything
and gain it back
one hundredfold
and over

they call it outer darkness
because they don’t know
Jesus is here
And Colten
And Sylvia
fierce and waiting
a foxes’ den home
for your love and rage.

In response to the failure the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod vote to amend the marriage cannon to explicitly include same-sex marriage (July 12, 2019) I started a pastoral response to my extended Wild Church community Salal+Cedar. It turned into a sort of poem/rant/oracle full of scripture and popular culture and I stopped writing for fear of harming hurt people more. In light of the seeming reversal or local option (July 15, 2019) which allows those bishops and dioceses that wish to, to move ahead with marrying same-sex couples (whatever that means), it felt even more important to me, to respond.


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