“A priest is someone who stands in a place of remarkable vulnerability, and by doing so, invites other people to enter the sacred.”
I am currently reading the book Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity by Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman, and the quote above has been rolling around my brain for awhile. What Edman is attempting to do in this book is show how the experiences of queer people can offer deep wisdom to the Church, because, as she argues, Christianity has always been a tradition of queerness, of navigating identity and blurring the lines between ideas and concepts that seem inherently separate: life/death, divine/human, unity/diversity. She draws a number of parallels between the journeys of identity formation that queer people and Christians go through to show how much the Church can learn from the queer community.
The quote above is from a section where she writes about how the process of “coming out” creates sacred space because the vulnerability it requires makes room for deeply authentic relationships to grow. When a person comes out, they tell the truth about themselves, both claiming their inherent worth and naming the places where they continue to struggle. By doing so, they invite others to stand on that holy ground with them. Edman connects this process of mediating sacred space with the idea of the priesthood of all believers. All of us, regardless of sexuality or gender identity, are able to help create sacred space when we name our truth and invite others to do so as well.
These connections between priesthood, vulnerability, and sacred space have stuck with me as I continue to move forward with pursuing ordination. I have never thought that being ordained meant that I was somehow greater or holier than others (and I hope you don’t either), but the ordination process has forced me to think about what it means to be a spiritual leader. Edman’s writing has helped me see that spiritual leadership can come from a place of vulnerability and risk rather than a need to control. As a priest among priests, I hope that telling the truth about myself and my experiences of the world is an invitation for others to do the same.