Instinctively, I laid my hand on the first person’s head and said, “God bless you.” I went all the way down the line of 40 people and moved over to the other side. Even longer lines of rainbow-stoled children of God stood at the other exit. Compelled to go there, I could not stop without blessing each one. Just as Jesus healed by touch, so touching their heads was meant to be a sacramental act of healing. When I touched heads, some smiled, some looked into my eyes, others looked straight ahead, and still others remained with heads bowed. Some had tears in their eyes or streaming down their faces. “God bless you.” “God bless you.” “God bless you.” All were fully present to the moment, including me. I was transformed.
The next moment I was heartsick. Watching delegates and visitors stream out of the exits, I saw some people totally ignoring those wearing stoles, as if they were invisible. Others wore steely or annoyed expressions on their faces and would not make eye contact. Several were chatting with friends and appeared not to notice. Some seemed sympathetic but did not know how to respond. A few stopped to interact. Years ago I decided that Jesus does not allow any of us to make exceptions about whom to love. Every day I struggle with the implications of that decision, but I am more clear than ever that if God can love a person like me, then I will covenant to love and honor everyone, with God’s help. God bless you.