LGBT Spirituality Retreat: Focusing on Being "in" and "out" in Our Lives

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The following post was submitted by Rev. Craig Mueller of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Chicago. Rev. Mueller is leading a LGBT Spirituality Retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery on August 27, 2011. 

The LGBT retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery looks two directions: in and out.

Clearly spirituality is about looking inward. A retreat gives us an opportunity to step back from our ordinary lives for some time to pause, think, reflect, pray and seek inspiration from God and one another. Hopefully the retreat on August 27 will leave time for some silence and solitude with a healthy dose of community and conversation.

Though we there will be time to be “in,” the context of our time together will be about being “out.” And as we know, LGBT folks are in various places of being out to their families, churches, communities, and workplaces. Whatever your orientation, gender identity, family situation, religious/spiritual affiliation, or how “out” you are someone you know or love is, you are welcome at the retreat. Together we will create a safe place where we can share stories and memories, disappointments and joys, concerns and hopes. Whether you are most comfortable listening or sharing, our time together will evolve depending on who attends, and the issues, situations, and real life examples that surface during the day. Some of us may feel a little vulnerable about attending, knowing there is a sense of risk and unknown, yet we also trust that the Spirit will be present and wonderful new connections and discoveries may come forth.

With civil unions now in Illinois and gay marriage in New York, and changes in church policy regarding ordination of gay persons for Lutherans and Presbyterians in the past two years, I have lived through much change myself. In March my partner and I had a public commitment ceremony for 275 family, friends and parishioners. Who would have thought such a day would arrive?

I am now out in all contexts of my life, but that has not always been so. I have known people who have made different kinds of decisions about being out to family, church, or workplace. We each have different temperaments and situations. And we want to be encouraging and open to one another in those various places.

Perhaps God’s greatest desire for us is that we be ourselves, who we were created to be. It is a gift we can give one another as parents, family members, friends, pastors, teachers, just to name a few. Our spiritual traditions can be of great assistance to us as we seek greater integrity both within ourselves and in our various communities. We trust that the inner work we do will bear fruit in the outer world. The exciting thing about this retreat is that, like the current state of society and the church, it is a work in progress. While we may still be impatient for greater change and acceptance, there is much to celebrate. So consider joining us at Holy Wisdom as we go in and out together.

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