“God in the Hard Places”



[ Monday, in front of the Massachusetts State House just before a Mothers Out Front rally]

LIke many women these days, I am no longer a Woody Allen fan. But the director/writer got one thing right: It really is about showing up. So on a rainy and chilled day when I would have much preferred to stay home and play with my precious grand-daughter, I reluctantly donned my high-performance long underwear, my warmest clothes, my thickest socks and my rain gear and took the T downtown. A veteran of outdoor showing-ups since Vietnam—indeed, many of my clothing choices are strictly based on “Will it keep me warm and dry if I’m standing for hours at a vigil or demonstration?”—I understand how these things work: It’s all about the body count. So I knew I had to be counted.

Now, I have devout friends whose discernment process to test whether or not they’re really called is to ask: Is this act or choice hard? Challenging? Painful? Am I struggling? And only if the answer is “Yes,” do they trust they’re doing God’s work.

Makes sense, right? If doing God’s work were easy, maybe we’d all be doing it! And it’s hard to trust facile—like sending off, with just a few keystrokes, this or that petition to save this or that. (Let’s hear it for “AutoFill”) It’s too darned convenient!

However: My own compass telling me if I’m on the right spiritual path is: Am I overcome by unexpected joy? So I was not expecting a spiritual experience when I grabbed my umbrella on Monday.

I showed up. Sixty others did, too, an awesome and deeply moving turn-out for such a miserable day. Which, need I say this, filled me with unexpected joy!

That evening, warm and dry, when I got the news that the Senate defeated Tar Sands, I gave thanks for the millions who have ever shown up, “in snow or rain or heat or gloom of night,” to protest injustice, to witness against war.

Thank you!


Join the Conversation


  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia! Wow and wow, my precious Christian white friend and sister! Wow and wow! And wow and wow! I so love this sagacious, brilliant, and inspiring blog post article of yours, as well as your other astute and magnificent ones,sister! The title of this blog post article, “God in the Hard Places,” is such a well-worded title and all so very true because as you, friend, and the other beautiful inside and out children of God people at the vigil and demonstration enacted your activism for the betterment of our society and shared and beloved common humanity all of you met the challenge of those hard places by showing up and being counted despite the inclement weather. Also, God can best meet us in God’s embrace in those challenges of those difficult and uncomfortable places, giving us strength and solace in those moments of unease, uncertainty, and adversity no matter what. God is for always there for each and every one of us in both the good places and the bad places as you know so very well, sister and friend Patricia.

    I am not a Woody Allen fan, either, sister. I have never cared for him, and when I learned of the allegations against him, that just served as impetus to continue not caring fro him even more. My precious Christian white friend and Sister, Patricia, you showed up with God and the other marvelous people at the vigil and demonstration at the Mothers’ Out Front rally. Sister and friend, you bravely faced the rainy and fiercely damp cold and showed up and stepped up to the plate and met this challenge, sister and friend, Patricia. You and the others are our valiant and indomitable, courageous heroines and heroes as you follow God’s challenging but all so on point discernment in God’s hard places and each and every one of you met those challenges in your very fine and excellent enactment of all of your activism. I try as best as I can with all that I have to do the same things in my activism by showing up and being counted in meeting the challenges of the variety of my activism whenever I am able. I am very active in my wonderful church here where I live in Iowa City, Iowa called Faith United Church Of Christ. I am often a lay reader of our God’s Scriptures, and I do other stuff with our shared ministry at church such as leading worship, participating in worship in other areas, and in being the greeter at the entrance of our church as people come in. Also, I am on our Open and Affirming Committee to enhance our outreach as an open and affirming church to our Good and Great Spirit God’s LGBT people. Every June I go to the Iowa City Pride March and Festival as a rejoicing and proud lesbian woman. Also, for my activism I try to be a very active and very present prayer warrior and I daily and often pray in my intercessory prayers for others, to keep you, Patricia, and our other beautiful inside and out children of God people covered in heartfelt prayers and thoughts and uplifted to our Spirit. It is my great joy and immense pleasure and blessing to pray daily and very often, to pray without ceasing as it says in our scriptures, to for always for me pray without ceasing.

    Friend and sister, Patricia, I, too, am so thrilled that the Senate defeated Tar Sands. What a great and a wise decision on their part. The splendid and spectacularly beautiful picture of you, Patricia, and the other wonderful people at the vigil and demonstration perfectly complements to perfection the title to this grand blog post article, and the entire blog post article itself. Patricia, I am so, so very uplifted towards my day in this early morn because of you, dear friend and sister, and your very inspiring blog post article. You just make my day,Sister, and I so thoroughly enjoy visiting your fantastic blog post website, and responding to your great blog post articles. Doing this gives me such immense joy, pleasure, excitement, and so, so very spiritual blessings and helps me to keep attuned to our Spirit and to you, Patricia, and our other sisters and brothers as wonderful children of our Good God. I appreciate you greatly, Sister, as I know also that your other grateful and appreciative readers do as well.

    Patricia, I for always daily and often keep you, your dear husband, the rest of your dearest and darling family, and the fantabulous friendsfamily at your blessedly pure in heart and spiritual Friends Meeting at Cambridge in my very heart and spirit, and frequent heartfelt, loving, caring, and sensitive thoughts and prayers! I keep all of you so uplifted to our Spirit God. I can for sure feel the love, concern, thoughts, and prayers all of you have for me, friend and Sister, Partrica! You all just keep me keeping on, and you and the others and your thoughts and prayers just mean so, so very much and I appreciate all of you with all that I have! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you, Patricia, to you and to each and every one of you!!!!!! May your Thursday be so especially blessed, and may all of your days be so especially blessed, Patricia!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely Always,

    Your lesbian black friend and sister in solidarity, Sherry Gordon

  2. Well that was fun!! I am often surprised by how delightful crummy weather can be and the surprising results that making an effort bring. Bravo!! I like your clothing selection!! Showing up… is a gift of yourself..

  3. whoops, small apologetic addendum: I have not had experience standing outdoors in crummy weather for hours in order to vigil etc, which I imagine to be less joyful than being outdoors for physical work or recreation..

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