A good friend told me I was the purple thread running through her life,”the bearer of spirit, mystery, transformation and wisdom.” I was honored. We are called to take what humble offerings we have and place them within a short heart’s reach of like-minded sojourners. It is rare we find one another.
This friend for whom I am a purple thread has suffered much, yet she fights with spirit. Since I have known her she has blossomed into radiance and holy confidence. I would not want to mess with her.
I have many other new friends, strong women all. One octogenarian is the national president of a large LGBT advocacy organization. She has the energy, enthusiasm and dogged determination of a woman half her age. Another teaches sociology at the University of Colorado and chairs the board of her church. She’s younger though, just 73. A much younger friend is a preacher’s daughter who boldly steps out time and again, though she knows she will be wounded in the process. She has been called, and she knows you do not mess with a call. This deeply caring mother boldly takes a stand at an age at which I was still trying to gain everyone’s approval.
In his book My Bright Abyss, Christian Wiman says, “The single most damaging and distorting thing religion has done to faith involves overlooking, undervaluing, and even outright suppressing this interior, ulterior kind of consciousness … In neglecting the voices of women, who are more attuned to the immanent nature of divinity, who feel that eruption in their very bodies, theology has silenced a powerful—perhaps the most powerful—side of God.”
Cathy, my spouse for 42 years, personifies this holy eruption. As pure as snow, she can sting like wind driven sleet. She does not shy away. She is through with silence. When she speaks it is not a purple thread, it is a blue streak. The blue streak is necessary. She is petite and pretty and in a male-dominated society, easy to ignore. But no more. Men are afraid. They should be. She pierces the madness with a holy eruption that clears the room and cleans the air.
I am new to the female gender. I cannot speak for other transgender women, but I feel somewhere in between genders, understanding some things from both sides, while feeling cut off from both when it comes to other ways of seeing life. Since most of the people with whom I am in contact nowadays never knew Paul and have no idea I was a male, I am able to live easily in the world as a woman. The insights I have gained courtesy of this new perspective have been fascinating, to say the least.
I have been astonished by the ways I have been treated, particularly compared to the ways in which Paul was treated. I have learned what it is like to be ignored, dismissed, and relegated to the back burner by those who assume I have little to offer. It gives me that much more respect for strong women throughout history who just stood there and stood there and stood—refusing to behave like men to survive, but learning to gather themselves up whole and strong and confident. I have much to learn from these wise souls.
These purple threads and blue streaks and fierce lovers are the grace given to me by the God of all, who ushered these saints into my life, to be held in my heart and trusted with my soul. To have made the acquaintance of each is a very sweet blessing.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Quinn Dombrowski