“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.” – Psalm 121:1
I took a day of vacation today to do just that – to go to the hills. At least the rolling earth that we call “hills” in Eastern Iowa and hills which (gratefully) my nearly 60-year-old legs still regularly traverse with ease. My heart is heavy. I need a reboot and I know I will find it there.
But why does my heart hurt? I just experienced an amazing weekend of joy, celebration, and worship in what used to be my favorite place on earth. Seeing old acquaintances show up to participate in Orange City Pride and Room for All events made my heart soar. New friends, whose hugs felt just as familiar and warm as the old, reminded me there are places to still feel welcome there.
My heart hurts because I can’t seem to shut out the other comments, looks, messages and Facebook posts from those who seem to think they alone can hear God’s voice. Those who warned that “LGBT will be roaming our streets” (you can’t make this stuff up); those who burned books written to comfort young children who feel different by telling them they are beautiful just the way they are; those who messaged me to say they had hoped they would find me at one of the venues lauded on a Facebook page for not supporting OC Pride (now, why would I be there?); those who glanced at us sideways as they hustled their children out the door of the bakery, saying “we need to go” (was it because we had just consumed the last of the Dutch letters?); and lastly, those who didn’t show up at all because they didn’t want to be seen among the LGBTQ people in their community.
I can’t seem to shut out the memories of “roaming” those same streets before I came out – when I felt such a sense of belonging in the community; or the memories after coming out – when I was told to leave or become someone I was incapable of becoming.
I remember stumbling across a quote from Ludwig van Beethoven while writing a research paper for a history class when I was a student at Northwestern College. As a musician and music major, the quote resonated deeply with me. I no longer remember the topic of the paper, but I do remember closing my paper with the quote as it was the perfect punctuation to what I was trying to express: “The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man’s soul. Music is the language of God.” I can still see the red marks in the margin of the returned assignment, “Be careful. This kind of thinking is dangerous and heretical.”
How ironic that some who claim to hear the voice of God yet deny me the same can fill me with such heartache as I run from the memory of them and into the hills where I so easily find Peace and Joy. So, I will go to the hills once again and breathe into my soul “the vibrations on the air.” I will remember the dancing, the laughter and the singing, and I will never forget the loving followers of Jesus who came to celebrate with us. To quote another, more contemporary, composer, “I go to the hills when my heart is [heavy], I know I will hear what I’ve heard before. My heart will be blessed with the sound of music, and I’ll sing once more.”
Deb Tiemens is a Room for All Board Member. You can read more about her life here.