Last evening my husband and I attended a book reading and signing at Watermark books. This independent book store is a jewel and worth visiting, but I digress. The authors signed the book and wrote, “in celebration of unconditional love!” The book, Our Family Outing, A memoir of coming out and coming through, is written by Joe Cobb and Leigh Anne Taylor.
At one time Joe was a United Methodist pastor and Leigh Anne was his wife. They served in the Kansas West Conference. Joe and I were ordained deacon the same year in 1985. Joe was a shining star, talented in so many ways, as was Leigh Anne. They were everything everyone wanted to see in a clergy couple, handsome, beautiful, and they sang together like angels.
Their book is a raw, vulnerable telling of Joe’s coming to grips with his homosexuality and Leigh Anne’s journey as well. The telling is full of truth, of depth, of pain, of grace and of forgiveness. The book is worth reading.
The story is told from both perspectives. It is not always easy to read. Perhaps because I have known Leigh Anne and Joe for so long and perhaps because I am sympathetic to their journey I was deeply moved by their truth and their vulneriblity in telling it.
Our world is so filled with hatred, prejudice, malice and mean-spiritiedness. A young man can be shot and killed becuase he is wearing a hoodie in a gated community and is the wrong color. Teenages can be harassed and bullied until they take their own life because other see them as “gay”. Women and children can be killed in cold blood by a soldier who has served too many deployments and has lost his mind. A Jewish rabbi and children as well as other soldiers are shot down in retaliation. Where and how will it end?
Only, if and when we discover that unconditional love the Divine offers us. It is so easy to be caught up in our own prejudices whatever they may be. We need, I need the eyes of Christ who sees beyond the color of the skin, the accent of the voice, the clothing one wears, the religion one follows or the cultural or sexual orientation one might have.
I want to celebrate unconditional love. I know I get it wrong more often then I get it right. Leigh Anne and Joe’s story reminds me that hope is possible, that love is stronger than anything i can imagine and that God offers grace and healing to one and all. Their journey was not an easy one, and yet they continue to live in love and grace in the midst of the laughter, the tears, the doubts, the uncertainties, and a world that would undermine the power of love. I can only hope and pray that I could live that kind of love in this time that prefers hate.
As always, I am Graced to serve,