You know textured windows? Not just frosted glass, but textured windows, with bumps and lines and squiggles. The kind of window that distorts the tree outside so much that you only know it’s a tree because you have been on the other side of the window. You wouldn’t want to have a house with only textured windows because they give you light, but they don’t let you see. They cloud your vision to the point of only allowing you to “see” what you already know is present. You could look out and “see” the tree in front of your house, but not notice the robins on the branch because you aren’t really seeing the tree – you are seeing the fragmented green and brown and blue sky behind and black car on the street because you know it’s there and not because you can see it.
And how much of that is our life? How much of our life consists of that textured window view of things? Seeing what we know is there instead of what is really there because, after all, if it’s always there then how can it be new? But at the same time we all know that things change, every day, all the time, in big or small or maybe just molecular ways but they change.
Our shoes wear out from walking but we don’t see the sole getting thinner and misshapen from the pressure of our own unique footsteps until that one day when, for some reason, you have to see your shoe and you notice it’s changed.
We watch children in our midst grow and change and learn and if we’re lucky the bigger achievements are remarked upon, but it’s the grandparents or faraway friends who comment on all the little things at those infrequent family gatherings.
So it is with so much of life. Seeing what we know and not seeing what we don’t know, wearing our textured window glasses out into the world.
“I can go into ministry,” I keep telling myself, “because trans ministers aren’t getting called and if there was a hell it would certainly freeze over before I was part of the generation of trans ministers to make that change.” I know I’m supposed to be the change I see in the world but, “hello” I tell myself “you can see that there’s not a place for you in ministry.”
But that’s not true, because I can’t “see that.” I just know it’s there, because it’s always been there and clearly it will always be there. Until it’s not, of course.
Until the kid throws a baseball through my window, and I realize that tree I “see” every day looks… different.
The tree doesn’t look remarkably different, but it has changed. It’s maybe a little bigger, and certainly those leaves weren’t so close to your house before and you should probably figure out whether that branch poses a danger to anything should it fall in a storm. Suddenly your unchanging textured window tree that you “saw” everyday was something you had to encounter and do something about, even if that something is just acknowledge that it, like everything else in this great big beautiful world, is not stagnant.
My consideration of ministry is not binary nor is it stagnant. It’s not yes or no, and it’s just kinda hanging out there until I decide on the next step. It is quite literally on my mind almost all the time. As a minister friend of mine said to me, “when I realized I was called my response was, ‘oh shit’.” My response isn’t “oh shit.” It’s more “You’re fucking kidding me, right?”
I feel like I’ve stopped looking at ministry through that fractured lens of textured glass. There’s still glass there, certainly, but it’s the glass of a picture window. There is still the distance between you and the tree, and some finger smudges and water spots that blur your vision a little, but you can see the tree that is there, not the tree in your mind.
I find myself imagining what “me in ministry” could possibly look like. Taking note of little things. Trying to see who I am and what I am in the place I am and in the place I want to be and how I could transfer that who and that what to that new place. It’s like replacing your textured glass picture window with the normal window pane. And then buying a very large bottle of windex.