Today is the feast day of Francis of Assisi in the Roman Catholic and other liturgical calendars, and I'm re-reading what I wrote on the pilgrimage Steve and I made to Assisi before Christmas last year. At the shrine of Francis, Steve bought me a simple little olive wood tau cross as a pilgrim memento, and I wear it (now rough and cracked from my daily showers) tied together with a Celtic cross he got for me when we made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. David in Wales a number of years ago — reminders of both pilgrimages and the prayers I prayed at both places.
Prayers that begged God to open doors long slammed shut in the churches in the faces of those who are gay — doors to welcome and inclusion of those God has made gay, doors that need to lead also to the churches' repentance for their savagery in abusing these children of God for so long . . . . At St. David's shrine, I left a prayer request saying all of this on a little slip of paper that I tucked into the shrine of David's mother St. Non out by the Pembrokeshire seacoast, a prayer request I also dropped into the boxes gathering such requests at both the Anglican and Catholic shrines at Walsingham.
I keep praying.
Here's what I wrote this past December after praying at the shrine of Francis in Assisi:
Francis, where are you? In this "new" church of a pope who has your name, whose message is supposed to be about a gospel of joy, about not judging those who are gay . . .?
I find it hard to see your face in this church, even now. When we went to your shrine today, it was so shrouded by winter mist, we could hardly discern its outlines inside the fog. As a follower of Jesus who happens to have been made gay, I've spent much of my life waiting and watching for the church to emerge from the mists — the church of joy and welcome, not the one of censure and judgment with which many of us have lived so long.
I'm still not seeing that church emerging from the mists. Francis, where are you?
I keep praying.
The photo is one Steve took at the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi on 21 December 2013.