On Friday I went down to Los Angeles for my friend Darren’s ordination via the MCC denomination. Somehow, the entire trip itself seemed like a sacred journey. My dear friend, Bonnie drove me to the train station, and I hopped aboard, leaving Santa Barbara behind without so much as the chance to say goodbye to my sweet husband in person. Along the way, the train stopped twice, causing my “picking me up” schedule to crack just a bit, but also causing me to think a bit about what it means to actually go from point A to B with intentionality. It occurred to me that, in general, we don’t really do this. We take for granted the fact that travel is relatively effortless, and practically instantaneous. In a global environment where an astronaut’s trip to the moon can mean return within seven days, a heightened sense of awareness seems necessary in order to bring sort of intentionality to travel. There were many of us who traveled for the particular occasion. Heck, the recipient of the ordination himself traveled from Oregon for this occasion. Jamie drove out from Nebraska, Brit flew from Seattle, Soph from Scotland, and I took the train.
Although it was a much shorter trip for me than for most of my friends, the sense of occasion, and the necessity for pause was not lost on me. Ordination is a sacred ritual, and like any other ritual (according to many theorists: Bell, Van Gennep, Turner, Eliade, just to name a few), it requires separation from the collective, initiation, ceremony and an irrevocable change in the initiate’s status. Such an occasion necessitated much more reflection time than we were able to afford it, as our time together was short.
Anyway, of this to say that none of this was lost on me. Although I was frustrated at how long it took for me to get to Los Angeles, I did my best to place myself into the frame of mind that would cultivate awareness. After an interesting (albeit slightly harrowing) experience of public transit in the heart of downtown LA, I connected with two of the ladies of the “hub”, and we headed off to Darren’s family home in Arcadia.
Just bringing this group of people together facilitated a total shift in consciousness. I truly believe that it is impossible for anyone to be more different in temperament, background and orientation than we are. But, it totally works. The “pack” was back together, and it felt like a moment since we had been, rather than the years that have actually passed.
If pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred place for the sake of encountering the “other”, than this was the archetypal image of a pilgrimage. The MCC, or the Metropolitan Community Church denomination, is a place the embraces those who have been outcast by other orthodox Christian denominations, and through an intentional breakdown of the alientation that cause us to hold each other at a distance, this organization (as imperfect as I’m sure it, like all organizations, is) creates an environment that offers acceptance and peace in the midst of its “otherness”. In its structure, it was similar to any other kind of service. However, it really affected me. It moved me in a way that church services generally don’t, knowing that no matter what kind of difference was brought to the table (whether we were gay, straight, white, black, Catholic, Jewish or Buddhist) the table would be open for all. Somehow, I feel that that’s the point, no?