Back in November, I wrote about Reverend Jennifer Paty from the Northern Lights MCC in Augusta, and her very powerful closing remarks at Transgender Day of Rememberance (click here for the post.) She spoke immediately after the reading of the names, and I think for many people there, her words gave great comfort. They certainly comforted me.
Reverend Paty has graciously given me permission to post her remarks on The Slant.
I thank her, and the many, many compassionate and inspiring people of faith who stand beside us, who work with us, and who embrace us with their whole hearts.
Reverend Jennifer Paty
Transgender Day of Rememberance, November 16, 2007
When I was first asked to close our Transgender Day of Remembrance, the request included that I might close by saying something (briefly) about community and the importance of community.
Over the past month I have thought about that.
And on Wednesday, I finally opened myself up to what was churning away inside of my heart about US. All of us.
I thought about how there are many in our community that have been harmed by religion, demonized and rejected by church dogma and how, in some cases, the very men and women we have remembered this night were taken from their friends and family by those whose hatred and fear may have been fueled by antiquated religious beliefs.
With that in mind, I thought about justice, liberation and what the world’s religions and spiritual practices truly have to say to our community and about our community.
The Buddha never specifically addressed justice – his main purpose in life was to teach us about suffering and he calls us to ask the questions of why. Why there is hatred, why there is death, why there is destruction of life.
I look upon this community and I see a community that is not afraid to ask Why. Even when it hurts the most, we are not afraid to cry out, why is there such hatred, why is there death and destruction of life. Why.
In Hebrew Scripture, Isaiah told the people in the midsts of great suffering. “Preserve justice and do righteousness, for liberation is about to come and Justice will be revealed” and then he said “How blessed are the ones who do this and the ones who take hold of it”
I look out among this community and I see those who live out these words of the promise of liberation, so that justice may be revealed. How blessed are we as community to be part of this struggle.
The Koran says: O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witness.
I look out among this community and I see those who believe in the struggle of gender liberation and who stand firmly for justice and I see and feel the presence of those who have witnessed with their very lives.
The Christian Scriptures follow the ministry of Jesus Christ– “Who was sent to Earth to bring justice to the Nations. To open the eyes and hearts of those blinded by their judgments and to bring out those imprisoned in the dungeons of inequity.”
I look out among this community and I see those sent to earth to bring justice to the Nations.
I see a community who will continue to open the eyes and hearts of those blinded by judgment.
And I continue to see the release of those who have been imprisoned in the dungeons of inequity. This is not an easy task that we have undertaken.
StarHawk, a pagan, a witch, a leading social justice activist, has taught me the most about doing justice work, she has taught me about showing mercy and knowing kindness.
She reminds us that “At this moment in history, we are called to act as if we truly believe that the Earth, is a living, conscious being, that we are a part of this being.”
“That human beings are interconnected and Precious” And I emphasize that. She says that we are interconnected and Precious…. We are precious.. Each one of US. … And she says that “Liberty and Justice for all is both desirable, what we all desire in our hearts of hearts”,,,,,,it is in our DNA.
and it is our “infinite quest.” What we are called to seek.
I look upon this community and I feel the interconnectedness and I see the precious, absolute precious souls in all who have graced this place. And in all whose life and death we remember this night.
So my blessing for us this day is that we never lose sight of the precious souls who have been lost but not forgotten. And that we look around and know the preciousness of this community.
And that we always and in all ways have the courage to ask the hard questions, to continue to open the hearts of those that judge and in doing that we bring justice to the nations by our witnessing.
The witness of our lives. The witness of our love and the witness of our gender inclusiveness and paradoxically our gender freedom.
A freedom that we can teach the whole world to celebrate. A gender freedom that this world desperately needs.
And so, I leave you with these words from a Rabbi Hillel, one of the most influential scholars in Jewish history.
He said, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”
Peace, Shalom, Namaste. Goddess and God bless. Go from this place knowing that we are community; that we are precious and go in peace.