Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Inner Light

Celebrating a gay couple's wedding in Florida
a few years ago.

A beloved transgender member of Ormewood Church, formerly a member of Ormewood Park Presbyterian Church, died unexpectedly last week, and, in addition to her own outstanding “Message of Hope” about this longtime member, our pastor Jenelle requested me to offer a brief reflection on her life based on our shared love of Star Trek during her memorial service this past Sunday afternoon. Afterward, her lifelong spouse gave me a beautiful Star Trek t-shirt commemorating its various incarnations over 55 years, 1966-2021. 

In recent weeks I had tossed about various ideas for my final post on this blog. Should I re-post an earlier blog about LGBT Pride for this Pride Month or write something new? I’ve decided that this reflection is a fitting way to end this ten-year-long blog. 

Star Trek, The Next Generation, was one of my binge-watched series during the pandemic, and one episode in particular stood out, entitled, “The Inner Light.” For those who want to watch it on Netflix, it is episode 25 of season 5. I had talked with Jenelle about it at the time, and I discovered lots of other people liked it too, receiving awards. 

The episode is simply described: “Picard awakens to find himself in a village where he is a well-known member of the community suffering from a delusion of being a starship captain.” I watched it again to prepare. 

I have come to think of Star Trek as a kind of “biblical stories of the future.” They often relate to something going on in the present, offering meaning and values and purpose, just as the Bible does. 

Spoiler alert, but what occurs in this episode is that the current Enterprise has happened upon an unoccupied alien spacecraft that sends a beam of memory into Captain Picard’s head, causing him to faint, unconscious for half an hour. But during that brief period, Picard realizes a whole lifetime on another planet. No one in his village believes him to be a starship captain, no one affirms his own “inner light,” thus the reason he is considered under a delusion. 

Instead he is recognized as a community leader and scientist who tackles his host planet’s own form of global warming, an unrelenting drought. He is married and has children, and we watch them grow from infancy to adulthood, as Picard and his wife age, and as Picard finally learns to play the flute. 

He eventually finds a solution to the planetary drought and offers it to his community leaders. Come to find out, their own scientists had figured out the same solution, but the local leaders (read “politicians”) refuse to make the hard choice to put it into practice, for fear of the average citizen. Again, his own “inner light,” his own “aha,” is rejected. 

The beam directed into Jean Luc Picard’s inner consciousness is the way the people of this now destroyed planet have finally told their story, perhaps as a warning for those of other planets. The people of the planet have been gone for a thousand years, but their history and their lives have been preserved and now communicated. Their inner light has become Picard’s (and our own) inner light. The parallel with scriptures and sacred texts of every faith handed down to us is clear, at least to me. 

What really moves me about this story is that this is what I experience in every death, including our beloved church member. With every death, we lose a vital (as in “life-giving”) story about ourselves, about life, about the universe, about the nature of things. We will miss their “inner light.” 

I will miss her grin, cheerfulness, intelligence, wit, and welcome. I will miss her story, her own inner light. Surely it was a reflection of the very nature and nobility of God. 

Some outside our welcoming community of Ormewood Church may have written off as delusion her inner light. But she came to understand something about herself, her gender experience and expression, and I would say, something about all of us and about all of our gender expressions. 

Her inner light has brightened our world on her journey into the inner light of God. To quote the opening of Star Trek episodes: “Space, the final frontier…[our] mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” 

Hallelujah! Amen! Thanks be to God!


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Though this is my final post, more than ten years of posts remain available to you on the blogsite, and I encourage you to enjoy them. I regret that I never created an index of post titles, but the search engine in the upper left corner of my blog can help you find posts of interest by typing in a subject, topic, name, scripture reference, religious season or holy day. Or you may work through them by year and month listed in the right column. 

Comments are still welcome on any post. 

Though they may have been written with current events in mind, I intended them each to be read meaningfully at any point in time. It has been a pleasure writing this blog, but now, I believe, is a time for silence, something I considered when writing the Zen series. 

I assure you I am well, content, and thankful to God for this extension of my ministry. Thank you for your interest, comments, correspondence, and contributions. I am grateful to Metropolitan Community Churches for recognizing this blog as an “Emerging Ministry” and for reposting many of my reflections, as well as the dozens of Facebook pages that allowed me to provide links to particular posts. I am grateful for the free services of Blogspot, Google, Facebook, and the delivery service, FeedBurner. I am grateful for artist and friend Becki Jayne Harrelson and my husband Wade Jones for their technical and moral support. 

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