In the Name of God
I took my Groupon or Living Social, one of my online coupons, to a neighborhood salon to get my hair done. I brought book Going Clear, an expose’ about the Church of Scientology, along with me to read.
The hair dresser introduced himself and then walked me to his station. He asked me what I was reading and I told him adding my friend’s comment on the book “when you think it can’t get weirder, it does.” With his interest peaked, he asked me what made it weird and I proceeded to tell him about L. Ron Hubbard taking his followers to sea and for punishment when they didn’t “obey him” he’d throw them overboard, as one of the many examples.
My stylist then confided in me that he had been in what he referred to as a Christian cult. At age 18 he was part of a year long internship program for youth where he was pushed to do strenuous labor like carrying logs from one part of a camp with another. The rule was the log could never touch the ground so if it got heavy or someone needed to shift positions, they could lay the log on their bodies, but not on the ground. He told me when he was doing heavy labor he broke a bone in his foot and the recipe for healing was prayer. They told him if prayer didn’t heal him it was because his faith was weak. His foot is still injured; and even more so, his faith in God and humanity.
For punishment he and the other teens were forced to write Bible verses hundreds of times. He knows the Bible real well. He told me he’s read it cover to cover six times. The Bible — the Holy Sacred Text — was used as punishment. The text I cherish. The one that when contemplated upon increased Light in my body and invites angels into one’s midst was used in a perverted way of harm.
I was waiting for him to tell me his journey as a young gay man, and I waited until close to the end of his story. The church encouraged him to “pray the gay away.” I asked a few questions as I’d heard about this process and never knew anyone who had undergone it. He told me was to confess his sins of having “impure thoughts” to his prayer group and together they would pray to have them removed. Wanting to fit in, he went as far as becoming engaged to a woman to whom he would eventually break it off with.
He is now 28 years old, in a relationship with a man, and actively working to love himself and others in spite of the indoctrination he endured and the physical pain he feels in his foot daily. As we talked, I never told him I was a minister. I listened and I silently prayed. And my heart broke wide open. This beautiful Soul was made to believe that he was a sin and a sinner. He was left struggling with who he is, who he can trust, and a version of God that is unknown to me.
The God I know is Love. Pure Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. The God I know is not a man. Is not in the sky or outside and separate from me. The God I know IS. Active, Alive, Invisible made visible. In and through all creation — It is Creation Itself. The God I know is an Infinite, Everywhere Present Field whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. It is active through Its creation where there is a yielding to Its Presence for action. It is Grace. It gives, and gives, and gives and then gives more. It is within me — it is the very breath I breathe. It is also around me and It exists between me and all created forms. In other words, there is no where where God is not.
I returned home with beautiful hair and more fodder for prayer. I find myself devoting a lot of my daily prayer time to loving the perceived unlovable. I sat praying for everyone in the story. My prayers consist of me sitting in a space of Divine Love until no one is excluded from Love and the charged energy of the story dissipates within me. I bring into this Holy Space those who created a church out of the Gospels with great intent and possibly poor execution. I prayed for the other youth who were at this camp. I prayed for the hairdresser.
Now approaching twenty years of formal ministry, I’ve come to appreciate the Soul stories of many hundreds if not thousands of people I have witnessed. I know that an individual’s wounds are actually the gate through to their own resurrection story and individual magnificence. I can trust this. Knowing this, my prayers aren’t necessary. However, they are what I am to give and what I am to become.
This past year I have found myself in prayer so very much. There is much Love to be revealed through me and within the world.