The phone rang last night a bit after 8:30. It was Nancy from church. That usually means only one thing since she coordinates who participates as an usher or communion aide for our weekly services. It just had to be another one of "those" messages - not from Nancy though, but from someone a bit higher up.
You see this weekend is the anniversary of when I felt called to attend church for the first time in four decades - maybe my entire life for that matter. My mother had passed away earlier in the week and I had been barred from attending her service by my father. To this day, I still don't know why I felt so compelled, but I am thankful that just two days prior to my mother's passing, I had met two wonderful souls from this church, Country Club Congregational UCC, who wanted to learn more about what it meant to be transgender. The United Church of Christ has the expression "Extravagant Welcome". That day, I began to experience "Extravagant Welcome", even though I was looking for solace not a Home.
While I had made certain plans to attend service this week - admittedly my attendance has been a bit spotty over the summer - I was also planning on doing so "quietly". Perhaps I would even sit in the balcony, where there is usually just a smattering of members, thus providing a bit more space to be in solitude. I thought it would be best for me to be more to myself, in reflection of these past three years and in remembrance of my mother. There is a point in our service for quiet prayer and reflection. Sometimes I shed a tear or two, and sometimes not. I know I shall shed more than just a couple of tears this weekend for sure.
Yes, it has been an Amazing Three Years. And at the very core of all the good that has occurred is the loving people of this little white stucco church nestled among the tall, leafy trees. I wrote earlier of all the activities in which I have participated at church. I'm sure there are those in the congregation - probably nearly all - who think its no big deal that I have participated in so many ways, but for me it is truly the most affirming expression they could offer to their first transgender member. That innate ability to embrace has provided me a basis of strength from which all else that I have been able to accomplish as Donna in just three "short", amazing years has sprung.
In all things regarding participating in the life of my congregation, I reference the sermon from Rev. Sue Thorne on that very first day, "Pay Attention to the Signs God Puts Before You". So you see, this wasn't just a call from Nancy that I answered last night...it had to be another one of those Signs. And so I am not destined to sit in solitude this weekend. I was extravagantly welcomed three years ago this weekend. It is thus my call to serve as head usher this Sunday, to extend that same extravagant welcome I received three years ago to those who enter the front door. I said "yes" to Nancy, but I know who was really calling.
Perhaps I will be honored with welcoming a person just like me three years ago, entering an unknown space in search of finding Home.