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this is my body: full of haunted houses

This Sunday, I was blessed enough to be recognized by Wesley Foundation’s annual Peace with Justice award.  In two church services and during a poetry slam afterwards, I received a rose and $100 to donate to charity (and was shown a plaque with my name on it to be displayed in the building)!

Holy cow.

I was graciously commended for my anti-trafficking work and for “reconciling people of faith to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ persons through social networking, [my] blog, participation in Reformation Project, Believe Out Loud, and other efforts to shape how churches think and act” and for being “active in interfaith activities and a translator at a local refugee network.”

It was humbling standing and hearing these accomplishments being recognized, but the most memorable part of the day was when the pastor asked me to help him serve communion.

I walked to the front of the church and took the elements from him, after pulling off a piece of bread for myself and dipping it into a chalice of amber grape juice.

body of christ, broken for you, he mouthed.

blood of christ, shed for you, I agreed.

justice

the nominees from left to right: Scott Lux, John Spurgeon, myself, Kevin Anderson, Reshmina William

As the congregants slowly formed a line in the center aisle and began moving towards the front of the church, I felt suddenly overcome with a sense of…undeservedness.

I shouldn’t be here.

I kept thinking about the things that I was being recognized for – advocating for the inclusion of LGBT individuals in church and society, making a difference in the fight to abolish modern-day slavery, assisting with local refugee services…

Receiving this award was one thing, but publicly celebrating this sacred meal was different, scarier somehow.

I shouldn’t be doing this.

blood of christ, shed for you, I intoned, as the first woman stepped forward.

Amen, she breathed, casting me an honored smile.

In my mind, I kept repeating the words that they had used to describe me: Christlike, humble, holy.  Loving.

Me, Ryan Kuramitsu.

They were saying these things about me?

Me, who a year ago had told my lesbian mother I thought she was going to hell?  Me, who is so unclean in every sense of the word, me, who is at this moment shamelessly wearing clothing sewn by child slaves?

Me, serving this perfect meal.

body of christ, broken for you

amen.

Breathe in, breathe out.

blood of christ, shed for you

Standing there, I realized something.  Maybe I am not worthy.

…but is anyone?

This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting philosopher Peter Rollins, who famously said “we are all a fiction…we are all haunted houses.”

His words began to echo deeply through my brain.

we’re full of ghosts, each of us

We are all haunted houses on Halloween night, self-conscious constructs of our own soaring egos and insecurities; our inner monsters, they’re things that would terribly frighten the children.

Trick or treat.

But standing there, I calmed myself as I remembered that it’s not just me that’s so haunted.

Because each of us has skeletons in our closets, we all have these demons we need exorcised.

We are full of hungry ghosts and a swelling darkness that rages against the light of day.  We scare the shit out of ourselves sometimes.

body of christ, broken for you

I realized, or maybe remembered, that not one of us is whole, complete, satisfied, or anything like the fictions we present of ourselves to the world.

There are things in ourselves that we don’t want anyone else to see.  And standing there, I figured it out: none of us are okay…but that’s okay.

blood of christ, shed for you

shed for you, for all of you, for all of your inconsistencies and your dreams and your doubts and your love and life and loss, shed for you who doesn’t know if she even believes in God anymore but damn it she tries to love Him.

body of christ, broken for you

broken for you, for all of you, for every inch of you who may searching, seeking, suffering, body of christ broken for you who has cried yourself to sleep more times than you’d like to admit.

I suddenly soared, wishing everyone I knew could be standing there with me serving this family meal, that my dad and mom and sisters could see me now and eat this bread and drink this juice with me and somehow be to the rest of the world the body and blood of our Christ.

I thought of the Church, a body of God here on earth that is as big as it is broken, and full to the brim with messy, sick people – a creation governed by and grounded in a transcendental love that casts out all fear.

this is my body: full of haunted houses

broken for you.

Lord, hear our prayer.

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is a good post, Ry. Really artsy with all those metaphors. 🙂

    Remember when people were treating you like crap for standing up for the LGBT community?

    John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.”

    Well, now you’ve been recognized for continuing to stand. God knows what he’s doing.

    I know I’m still not sure what I think about the topic, but regardless I’m proud of you. Keep being compassionate. ❤

    April 9, 2013
    • Thank you, Jordy. I’m praying and smiling about your phone situation and I hope it gets better. Power to ya, sister!

      And I remember the mistreatment well because… it still happens every day. It grieves me that fellow believers I meet immediately dismiss me as a Christian when I don’t necessarily affirm their views on patriarchy or the gay community. But I’ve been blessed recently through MANY of my Christian (and even semi-atheist!) friends coming out to me as LGBTQ, and expressing a desire to commit (or re-commit) their lives to the faith and (re)claim Jesus Christ as their God. Praise be to God!

      PS a video talk calling for reconciliation of these 2 communities that the compassionate, lovingly-stand-in-the-middle Matthew Vines produced (Google him please, and carve out the time to watch it!) and a kind friend who blogs over at the popular canyonwalkerconnections.com are really good resources. You might also want to check out the documentaries “Fish out of Water” and “For the Bible Tells Me So” (both available on Netflix!) if you’re interested in not hearing propaganda, but considering these folks’ experiences.

      Love you deeply, and thank you for coming to my blog 🙂

      Ry

      April 10, 2013
  2. Beautifully written. And so so true ❤

    April 9, 2013
    • thank you allieruthmorris! I love your new profile picture and I hope Peru is awesome! 🙂

      April 9, 2013
  3. Bryant Kuramitsu #

    :)…love yaaaaaa

    April 9, 2013
  4. Pastor Dan #

    Ryan,

    Your blog reflection on 4-09-13 was awesome! Pastor Rob Kirby forwarded it to Donna Camp who forwarded it to me.

    I liked it so much I wondered if I could share it with a group that is meeting this coming Sunday. They need to hear what students are thinking, believing, and doing in the world as Christians. Your reflection is so moving I want them to experience it too. What do think? Are you comfortable with this kind of sharing?

    Yours in Christ’s service,
    Pastor Dan at Wesley

    April 16, 2013
    • that sounds fantastic! feel free to use it as you see fit – let me know if you need anything further, Pastor Dan.

      April 16, 2013
  5. Very nice, Ryan! I had a similar realization at a Lenten Lentils meeting, when another student showed up wearing a Chief tshirt. At first I thought, Shouldn’t someone interested in social justice know better than that? But then I remember that we are all works in progress. We do indeed all have skeletons.

    April 17, 2013

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