For me, being in seminary has been one long lesson in how to be an ally. Allies to those who are oppressed throughout the country and the world. Allies to those with mental or physical disabilities. Allies to many minorities, especially the GLBTQ community who is struggling to have a voice in the church today.
It's not easy. Most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing or if I'm saying the right thing. What seminary has taught me is that it is not so much WHAT I say but that I am trying to give voice to something that society makes silent. As a society, we don't like talking about disabilities, minorities, and oppression. It's just something that makes people uncomfortable. So the task is to talk. To stand with. To walk with. To give voice to.
It's not strange that I've been learning this in seminary given the ELCA's model of mission: accompaniment. The task is not to go and share my own story but to go and listen to other stories. To hold them.
And speaking of holding stories, one of my dear friends was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this summer. In her honor, and to remember all those with cancer whom we love (and many of whom have died), we are having a F*%# Cancer Party tonight. Sometimes, being an ally means showing up a party with chocolate chip cookies and a playlist of angry punk music.
I am an ally. And I love it.