As many of you know, my religious life started by being brought up in the Southern Baptist church, but with a side dish of Methodism from Mother. By the time I went off to college, I had figured out two things—I was gay, and I wasn’t a Baptist. By the way, those two things are not mutually exclusive.
So off I trekked to school, a Methodist one, where I met an Episcopalian minister. Not at school, mind you, at the local gay bar. He was travelling somewhat incognito, seeing how he was part of the clergy and it was still the ‘70s. It was a bit scintillating at the time to attend his services, and I had a previous brush with that denomination as a child attending Kindergarten and first grade at their school in Tyler. One might say I have some Episcopalian in me.
Once I got to Dallas, there was a hot minute when I was attending the Metropolitan Community Church. Being single, it was something of an effort to go out on Saturday night and show up for church on Sunday morning, which I managed to do until one Sunday when the visiting minister turned out to be the creepy guy who tried to pick me up the night before. I’m not going all #MeToo here, but he was no Episcopalian.
After that came my flirtation with New Age spirituality or what I now think of as my Metafloozy stage. I rubbed rocks, cleansed my chakras, and attended a Shirley MacLaine weekend. There was even a session with a self-anointed shaman who tried to put me under hypnosis to get in touch with my past lives. It didn’t work.
While pretending to be in a trance, I created a past life in a 14th century monastery that was part The Name of the Rose and part Camille, both of which I had recently seen. I determined that my future mediations would not involve crystals or connecting with higher powers in the universe but would be limited to the transcendence afforded when all one’s focus is concentrated on one’s maquillage and coiffure.
Finally, it all boiled down to one big enigma. What some would reduce to the old maxim that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Even if one replaces the Lord with Mother Nature or that alien masquerading as Jodie Foster’s dead father in Contact, the message is pretty much opaque. Answers? I’m not even sure we’re asking the right questions. Living with that can be a kind of faith.
And here we are in the time of COVID-19 or coronavirus or whatever you want to call it. Being personally given to personification, I think of it as Miss Corona Barrett. Perhaps she’s been sent here to teach us something or to reveal some truth about ourselves, or maybe she’s just trying to knock us down a peg or two. Maybe all three. Who knows?
If this is some kind of lesson or revelation, are we getting it? From what I can tell, some folks are trying hard to understand but are finding that task harder with the cacophony of noise coming from their fellow mortals. Could it be that even these harsh and sometimes cruel memes and missives are part of the plan?
Now some states are loosening restrictions, which may or may not be the right thing to do. Time will tell, and so will the numbers. In the meantime, some of us are looking around and thinking, “What are these folks going to do?” If Daddy were alive, he no doubt would say, “People do what they want to do.” Experience and observation has shown that trying to getting in the way of that is a futile exercise, as anyone who has married useless men (or women) and proceeded to have ungrateful children will tell you.
Miss Corona is not a respecter of any of our self-defined differences. But respect her power, while not living in fear of it. If all of Joe Exotic’s tigers were roaming the streets of my neighborhood, I wouldn’t be the one walking outside with a chair in one hand and a key to the mailbox in the other. The mail would just have to wait.
So here I sit, with no reason to do a hair and makeup meditation, wondering if Miss Corona is trying to whisper in my ear while my mouth is covered with this damned mask. Speak Miss Corona, speak to me. Is it a message? From whom? Is somebody trying to tell me something? Right now? Right now?
Look at me, getting my religion back.