The story is about the resurrected Jesus walking among people who do not recognise him, and they invite him in and become aware of who he is when he breaks bread. This is so resonant of my experience. This is so much part of my journey as a gay man, feeling like an outsider as people do not feel things in the same way, see things in the same way. But I am sure the story might apply to so many people. My heart centre was opened through Tantra and guess who turned up, and he had always been there, I just didn’t see Him.
I know from some lovely courses taught locally by our Church that there is a beautiful metaphor and sacrament for encountering God. This is the Eucharist breaking of bread and drinking of wine. And this sacrament is actually open to all and is not a contentious issue in our gay outsider perspective, all who are confirmed are welcome. Nothing except some commitment and openness are required in addition to Baptism. No circumcision, or rite of passage. Actually just a commitment to love and be open to Christ. It just might be that outsiders struggle to feel part of the community that the bread is broken in, but tall may partake of the bread.
But I wonder that as spiritual outsiders in the Christian, and usually other religious/cultural pathways as well, as gay men we can often feel that we are not worthy of the Divine or Spirit. After all many of us are told that often enough through religion. But going back to the metaphor of Jesus walking amongst us and us not recognising him, I think that gay men like so many others just need to find how to open their heart centres and see and feel Spirit. When you do it is wonderfully enriching. I learned to open my heart centre through the wonderful work of Jason and Ingo from www.tantra4gaymen.co.uk. Theirs is not a prescriptive spiritually practice but just support for a special journey of love for men who love men, using some common practice like breath work and meditation as well as the neo-Tantric practices of bodywork and loving sexual connection. It is about finding your truth through what is right for you.
But equally I am now able to see how all sorts of spiritual practice open us up to possibilities and experience, and the Church of England has indeed enriched my life, just perhaps not yet in a way that I can feel totally equal and accepted within it. But it will not be my only path just perhaps part of it.
As an aside I had some recent learning of what the Church of England sees as sacraments, specifically, that God is recognised through people, actions and things. These become symbols and even more than that they make the presence of God so vividly alive and real to those encountering them that they become agents of change. Now that opens up so much possibility and explanation of my experience outside the Church. Although the Church offers Baptism and Eucharist (breaking of bread) as main sacraments, which are so central to the New Testament, they add five others, like marriage and ordination. These latter sacraments make sense to me if they are considered permissive rather than mandatory, there for those people they are right for, not there to require all to partake or try them.
So I am heartened that perhaps again we may all find sacraments, even as outsiders and minorities, in our lives through which we encounter God/Divine/Spirit, and this is likely to be personal. Not everyone will find all sacraments work for them, indeed many find none. It might be crystals or Reiki or hugging a tree, or finding deep tantric love and the ritual associated with it. Where the Church and religions get caught up is in control, in trying to keep some truth so that people find a pure encounter with God. Then not realising, that perhaps, they may have lost the essence in the detail and control, so it is not right for everyone. If they want to welcome all in then they need to get their ducks in a row and listen to deeper truth.
Image by Lance