A few days before leaving on this vacation visit the Rubster and her family, she heard Joe and I talking with her dad, Mike, on the webcam. She rushed around to say 'hi' to 'Chapped Lips' and 'Davy'. We broke from our conversation with Mike to say hello. She tells us she's making an Easter card for us. 'Wanna see my glue?' she says running to get it without waiting for an answer. Seconds later she's holding the glue up to the camera. From behind the glue comes a voice, 'Wanna see the scissors?' and she's off again and back, this time with scissors she holds up for admiration. We make all the right noises about the 'best glue' and 'great scissors'. She grins at the camera.
We arrived at the hotel with a bunch of stuff. We'd picked up an Easter Sunday dress from Target on our last trip to the states, we had some toys and games, and, of course, we had some Easter Eggs. Ruby was thrilled with the dress, actually gasping when she saw it. She loved her new swim suit and got it on in anticipation of going down swimming in the hotel pool. I went down to the pool and Joe and I sat and watched the family at play. Ruby kept us informed by saying, 'I'm swimming like a goldfish' and pointing to her brother Joseph who was swimming lengths of the pool under water, 'Joseph is a shark.'
Back up in the room she considers me for a moment and then decides that I need a hug. She crawls up and gives me a big, strong hug. I give her a little kiss on the cheek. That done, she crawls back down and is off doing something else. I call to her and she turns, in the absolute knowledge that what ever I'm going to say, she will be as happy after I've spoken as before. There is no fear in her eyes at all. She is absolutely sure of my affection. She is absolutely sure she is safe with me. She is absolutely sure that my love for her is real, and strong, and everlasting. And because of all that, she knows my words won't ever hurt her.
When I was very young I was equally sure that God loved me, absolutely. I knew I wasn't good enough to be a fine son, wasn't good enough to be a fine student, wasn't good enough to be a fine athlete, wasn't good enough to be much - but I knew, somehow deeply and instinctively, that God loved whatever I was. Some how, some one, had give me the message, the 'good news' that there was a God and that that God knew who I was, in the deepest corner of my heart, and that God loved me - secrets and all.
It has not been a lifetime of surety. Later on I'd be told that the God, who's love got me through the horrors of childhood, did not love me. People would point at Bible verses that were aimed at showing me, PROVING TO ME, that indeed God did not love me, instead God hated me. And for certain I saw the hatred in their eyes, even as they told me that they loved me but hated the sinfulness of my sexuality. I knew their lie of love - but somehow I couldn't shake the feeling that God was there with me. Their doubt could not shake my faith. Even then. Even in moments of rejection. I was still the me that God loved. And even though I wasn't good enough to be a fine anything - the God who made me, formed me, created me, also loved me. After awhile I got the sense that others weren't so angry at me but that deeply they were angry at God. They hated the commandment and the example of love, they hated the image of Jesus who walked with the outcast, they despised the Saviour who could not be controlled, who could not be marshaled into prejudice. And it was this man, the defiant Jesus, who would love a fat, gay, frightened boy - would not let go of my hand no matter how loud the howling.
Like being bitch-slapped twice, I found new challenges after becoming disabled. I'm told I cannot have faith, or I would walk. I'm told I cannot be Christian because disability is evidence of sinfulness. I'm told that I need to see God's forgiveness and thereby receive healing. But I do not want healing. I do not want change. I am simply a wheelchair user. I don't see it as anything but the progression of my life, I do not see it as a condemnation of my life. And besides - he still holds my hand.
Today is Easter Sunday. This is a day where I celebrate my faith and my status as 'not good enough' for the world. I celebrate the fact that, though other voices told me differently, I listened to the still, quiet voice, who calls me. The voice that fills my heart with joy, my eyes with tears and my soul with rejoicing. The voice that is tinged with pride, and perhaps the greatest miracle of all without the hint of shame, when it calls to me ...'David, my son ...'