By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—
“ … by virtue of the Creation and, still more,” wrote priest, paleontologist, and Catholic theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.”
Nothing is wicked or blasphemous, including LGBTQ people individually or as a collective group, for those “who know how to see.” Increasingly, the ability to understand is apparent not just in the secular realm with the widespread acceptance of God’s LGBTQ children, but also by religious leaders of different faith traditions who baptize infants of same-gender parents or perform a religious wedding rite for same-gender couples.
Knowing how to see goes beyond the obvious to look for a deeper, sometimes hidden, understanding of the world and everyone’s place in it. Things, as the expression goes, aren’t always what they appear to be. It applies to those fearful of transgender children that the Giver of Life has created as part of Creation. Every transgender man and woman is meant to be part of the unfolding cosmos.
In a letter to a friend, de Chardin once observed, “… for you, as for everyone, there is only one road that can lead to God, and this is the fidelity to remain constantly true to yourself, to what you feel is highest in you. Do not worry about the rest. The road will open before you as you go.”
This doesn’t mean because you hold deeply held beliefs, there isn’t error in your logic or reasoning. At one time folks had deeply held beliefs, often based on biblical interpretation that segregation, for example, was permitted by the Divine Light.
As the saying goes, faith without logic and common sense becomes superstition and science without faith slides into hubris. The ancient gods of Rome and Athens forgave humankind for all of its sins, but one—arrogance. It’s a lesson we, individually and collectively as societies and cultures keep forgetting.
Hence, no matter the group or individual, there is a need to carefully reflect and wrestle with what makes a person or an entire community uneasy about something.
In the past six months, I learned something while interviewing a transgender man on an issue many transgender people often face—they’re a minority within a minority. It surprised me to find out a transgender person is not always welcomed in the larger gay, queer, lesbian, and bisexual community.
Ironically, sometimes the persecuted can become the persecutor. Transgender individuals are left out of the conversation, or even worse, not welcomed.
Independent of the article and thanks to the pen-pal program of Black and Pink, an organization working towards the “abolition of the prison industrial complex” with a focus on imprisoned LGBTQ persons, I met a young transgender woman . Let’s call her “B” to respect her privacy and ensure some level of safety.
She’s an extraordinary person—courageous, authentic, and intuitively bright. Because of her trust and willingness to share, I’m more educated about the unique challenges of transgender people. I’m a better person now having a wider perspective about another aspect of the Creator’s holy Creation.
What these two recent experiences reinforced for me is that everyone—no matter their gender, religion, ethnicity, race, sexuality, or level of education—may not always “know how to see” in a manner that celebrates the fullness of Creation and the unique beauty of every individual.
According to de Chardin, “Just trust life: Life will bring you high, if only you are careful in selecting, in the maze of events, those influences or those paths which can bring you each time a little more upward.” ()
It’s not just about bringing yourself to a higher level of spiritual and emotional maturity, it’s also about doing so for those for whom you may have a hidden fear. Help nurture the inner wellbeing of the forgotten, marginalized, misunderstood, and even those who don’t like you. In doing so, we are able to open our eyes a little wider and learn to see a bit more about life and everyone’s unique, intended place in the world.
*Paul is a corporate chaplain and lives in greater Albany, NY.