The Homeless Homeless Pastor
Lenten Reflections on Street Retreat (March 10-17)
By Rev. Megan Rohrer
Prepare the Way: Thursday, March 8th
I am currently in Dubuque, Iowa where I will be presiding at a wedding for one of my close friends from college. Immediately when I return from Iowa I will begin my street retreat and begin living on the streets. I am already beginning to think about the stark contrast in climate and landscape that awaits me. From one wilderness experience to another. This one is a cold and snowy tundra of rugged land, the Tenderloin is a rugged tundra of a more internal nature. This is one reason that the my internal journey is so important on this retreat. As we walk the streets, as faithful fools, we continually ask ourselves: What holds us separate? What keeps us separated? As I walk these streets, what still connects me? As we repeat this mantra, we notice what we can.
Today I am noticing that I am starkly aware of all those who are worried about my safety while I am on the streets. Knowing that there are others, beyond just my mother and my grandmother, that worry about me speaks to me. What are they afraid of? If I were in my condo tonight I would be guarded by a security guard and locks on my door. That protects me from the cold unknown, but not from death, natural disaster, or other unknowns that I cannot be in control of. While I always know that I am not in control - God(dess) is - on the streets I am even more aware of how little control I have.
I know why people are worried about me. I even know that it may be a symbol of my youth that I am not afraid. But, I am not afraid of this swirling chaos called life. I am a faithful fool. I wonder how many other families are worried tonight for their loved ones that are living on the sidewalks, in cars or on the margins of life - their retreat is likely to have been more than seven days?
On Saturday, as I lay down to sleep in a sleeping bag on a thin bit of cardboard (which cuts the chill of the concrete), I will try to let go of all that separates me from God(dess)'s creation, from my neighbor and from God(dess). and I will remember Sogyai Rinpoche's saying: "Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life itself reveals again and again the opposite; that letting go is the path to real freedom."
Prayers for my first day on retreat (Saturday, March 10th):
Today I remember the feast day of St. Anastasia the Patrician (aka Anastasios), or "of Constantinople" (According to the Orthodox and Old Roman Calendar). Anastasia was a female born ascetic who wore male monastic habits. Anastasia fled the advances of the emperor Justinian by hiding in the Egyptian desert as the monk Anastasios or St. Matrona of Perge. Anastasios' birth sex was uncovered when Anastasios' earlobes were found to be pierced. Many of the trans/gender queer saints have been erased from modern saints calendars, even though many of them became saints particularly because of their trans/gender queer status.
I thank God(dess) for Anastasios and for my own gender queerness. I pray for all my trans-kin and celebrate their willingness to walk between the lines of gender, to transform themselves and their communities and to claim their new names and pronouns just as God(dess) claimed them in their baptism. I also pray for all the transfolk living on the streets, since even in the welcoming city of St. Francis only about 3% of the transitioned folk surveyed are employed. I also give thanks for all the transitions in life that we celebrate and send special prayers for the new partnership of the four Lutheran churches that have called me and appointed me to work as the director of the Welcome Ministry (Ebenezer, Christ Church, St. Francis and Sts. Mary and Martha). AMEN.
Rev. Megan Rohrer
Previous .... 2/21/07 - The Homeless, Homeless Pastor