Eli wrote some wonderful words on the Receiving with Thanksgiving site, to introduce himself and to describe what he wanted to accomplish. My heart is warmed by Eli’s energy and sense of vocation as I read these words.
Hi there! I’m Eli, one of the original members behind Receiving with Thanksgiving. I am an upcoming senior at Penn State studying Rehabilitation and Human Services and French. I am also a transgender man, a bisexual, and a Christian. In 2014, circumstances arose in my home church which brought the perceived “fight” between my LGBT identity and Christian identity very close to home. Since then, I have been dedicated to education and conversation between Christians and LGBT people, as well as the very real overlap of these populations. I do not see us as opposing sides, rather, all parts of God’s family struggling to understand the larger picture.
It hasn’t gotten any easier for any of us to live out these goals since Eli wrote them two years ago. May God have mercy on us all as we struggle together to understand “the larger picture”.
This was shared on the Facebook page of Receiving with Thanksgiving, the student organization that Eli helped to found (and which has continued to be active this semester).
“Today we remember the life of Eli M Roe, founding member of Receiving With Thanksgiving. We miss you, dear friend.”
(The student event was held early because of the clash with the Thanksgiving break this year.)
The last time I spoke with Eli, he shared with me the poem below, which he had written and which had just been published. I was (and still am) so proud of his engaged, reflective mind and eager, active spirit. The biblical texts referenced are Exodus 15 and Numbers 12. [If you can expand the width of your display, you’ll see the line breaks as Eli intended them.]
In preparation for Passover Seder
a woman places a full cup
for Miriam, sister of
beside the cup of Elijah’s wine.
In her heart, they are still holy.
When her parents spoke of Miriam, prophetess
snow-white with sore for questioning God,
struck with leprosy for saying “Has not the Lord also spoken to me?”
the woman tried not to wonder if her point
wasn’t that she heard God calling clearly in the desert and felt the spring
bubbling up inside her.
She tries not to wonder if Miriam was eager, rather than blasphemous
as when the army of the pharaoh was drowned in the Red Sea
perhaps Miriam felt the oceans turning inside her and said
“Throw me the horse and the rider
and let God do his work.”
perhaps she understood, as only women can
what a terrible thing it is to mistake
a fountain of life
for a body.
Instead of a blessing for Elijah, the woman prays, Meribah
may you find peace in the desert, a cup of water to your people
emptying yourself for them over and over but never
Eli M. Roe