I remember coming out as transgender and somehow choosing the name the most felt like me. As I think back I remember giving it some thought, some reflection but clear that this was a religious/spiritual experience. Since then, now over 15 years ago, I have come to appreciate the naming process as spirit filled and spirit led. Each day, I am reminded that joy doesn’t emerge out of temporal concerns, situations, or challenges but in my relationship with the divine. These are some tough days, looking for work, little money, a challenging transition and various other issues and concerns. So now, thinking upon my name, Monica Joy Cross, particularly my middle name “Joy” provides a strange hope that compels me to hold my head high this day.
Joy is about endurance grounded in a peculiar faith rooted in the cross. It could be said that Joy is a response to the deep intimate and cosmic love of God. Joy is life, including the scars, bruises and upheavals, the challenges and concerns. Joy, yes unspeakable joy is not juvenile or dismissive but, like God’s love, it is powerful, unflinching, and full of grace. Joy does not bow to the circumstances or situations of life but overcomes the same through what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. termed divine intimacy. According to King Divine intimacy presents life as oneness with God. Beyond yet inclusive of the philosophical it is a felt connection, it is emotional and real, a Pentecost reality in the life of the sojourner.
That said, Joy recognizes that the divine material life is evermore transitory, fleeting, and must be approached with this knowledge. And, because it is transitory and fleeting the sojourner is compelled by faith to affirm the complexity of divined material life. In this context Joy becomes is an intersection of the everlasting and the temporal and in this sense sacred and holy. Joy does not divorce me from temporal life but compels me to engage the complex intersections of life. Reflecting upon James 1:1-9 (NRSV); I am mindful that trials, tribulations and temptations present divine material life as a plane of the complex for the maturing of the soul with the end goal of a joy that is complete.
I am mindful that I live in a world of systems and processes developed to protect me from the elements, and as a society we spend a significant amount of blood and treasure pursuing this end. The consequences of this narrative are, I suggest, ongoing human conditions that, at times create more problems than it actually solves. The current humanitarian crisis on the U.S. Mexican border would be an example. Immigration, at one time a source of pride and hospitality, even a joyous occasion is now a tool of rejection and sorrow meant to keep America “safe” from people seeking to liberate themselves from a drug war engineered and designed by a republican political regime seeking to support the Iran-Contra Affair i.e. the Reagan Doctrine.
That said, joy is fully experienced as we engage in real authentic hospitality. It seeks the fullness of divine interaction within the complexity of the temporal and in this sense joy is a most inclusive endeavor. In other words joy embraces the oneness embodied in the interaction of the divine and the temporal. In light of James 1:1-9 how do we engage immigration? What does it mean, particularly if you embrace the teaching of Jesus Christ? A further question that is raised is, “Shall the politics be the enemy of hospitality?” More to the point, “how do we create a politics that is welcoming to the immigrant, to those who still see the United States as the last great hope for the world?” Finally, shall grace be shed on a people who deny the hope of so many longing for their day of jubilee? I submit to the reader that only Joy can answer this question.
Monica at Albany, California July 4, 2014