I woke up the morning of December 19 for work with my shirt soaked with tears. It is not a normal occurrence, but my son had a rough night of emotional pain and crawled into bed and couldn’t stop crying. Why you ask? Well that is an intriguing story that actually started a reminiscence for long time readers.
A few years back when I was editor of socialist paper, I had a column dubbed “View from the Pew” where I would ruminate on the crossroads of the spiritual and political. As those in Canada know (or may need to re-learn) that the progressive movements started over coffee and tea in church basements in trying to build our just society.
A society that a spiritual centre dubs in their Metro paper ads as “inclusive” and my son learned far to devastatingly that this was false on the morning of December 18, which led to the tears overnight.
It was a secondary response from a pulpit that was anything but inclusive, and sadly so different from what he, in his joy, was used to feeling/experiencing. Our world is not comfortable with those blessed and experiencing the world differently abled, we like to sidebar or over see or exclude. As some may realize, my family is not like that, when we speak of an open door for anyone, and even to loss of spiritual homes we have lived this.
So a few years back, we were attending and about to join the Roman Catholic church (I know shocking with their conservative theology, but bear with me on this)…and my sons joyful noise was addressed from the pulpit during High Mass, and y’know what the Priest came back with? Hallejuah that there is someone so alive with love and the Spirit here today, that is how we all should be in our faith and living of love.
A faith home, that also had leadership that essentially stated all were welcome, all ages were welcome, and those raising complaints would be dealt with by the leadership for not including all God’s children.
Fast forward a few years and we are a family in a spiritual centre that speaks of inclusion, that never raises any issue with my son’s joyful noise. One time, the av guy had to come speak with us, he was respectful needing us to move from the back to the front so the sounds did not overcome the recording microphone. We got it, and even though the stadium seating stair case at SAIT Orpheus Theatre are not easy for someone with Cerebral Palsy to move down, supported by me, that is not always the strongest of backs, we made it work.
Then as my son in his grief cycle of loss, got to the point he wanted to go back to “church” to hear music, and hear about Santa…we went. The morning music was about Santa, he was rocking in joy, and excited with pics of his buddy (Santa) up on the screen…when it happened.
The Minister decided it was time to attack as he was taking a moment to gleefully calm down. Asking him to move to the back or not make a noise while she talked. My son said No. He knew there was no option to move to the back, and by asking he was being kicked out. With the next noise he made in glee…my son and me left. It was a hard walk up, as he did not want to go, but I could not deal with any more spiritual assault from the pulpit to my little boy. Eyes were averted.
Of this great spiritual place that boasts 9 other “deeply trained” practitioners and ministers, none followed, no members of the congregation that always said how they enjoyed my son followed to see if we were okay…sorry check that…one loan lady came running out in tears pleading for us to go back in saying he wasn’t bad, but that’s all my son could repeat:
Santa thinks I’m naughty. I spent time calming him, soothing him, reminding him no he was not naughty, this is the ugliness of prejudice that he is far to young to experience.
A few members came out to use the washroom or get a drink, he would say hi, they would not make eye contact and hustle past completely ignoring him. We were waiting as I did not want my daughter to feel the pain of being cast out to by pulling her out of Funday early.
But as we waited,
I watched the sparkle leave my son’s eye. His joy fade to a pale facade, as each of these “holy” people ran away…
my little boy who a few years earlier when we became members thanked this place for loving him…looked at me and said, “Daddy they no love me.”
Was there an outreach for an apology? A feeble attempt of the, it was handled badly moments…made worse by the centre believing they could post the video unedited of the talk, so that I actually had to contact them to deal with it in a respectful way…because that act in itself tells me you saw nothing wrong with the actions as a community, and do not see him as a full person.
But it was the ringing silence that morning that struck me…one person whose heart is bigger than her, but no one else, and those that did averted like you think we had the plague. That is when it hit me. The progressive spiritual movements were in shock when someone like Trump road a wave of lowest common denominator to the presidency and in shock asked how?
Sunday Morning December 18 when my little boy was asked to leave a spiritual gathering over joy in Santa, and all but one person in a 100+ person gathering remained silent. Sat in silent solidarity with the most vulnerable being cast out…that is how a USA 2016 election result happens, you are now part of the tipping point to the opposite of love and inclusion.
This is my humble view from my pew (or in this case padded seat in an Orpheus Theatre to a wooden bench in the SAIT Student Centre).