Six years ago while I was renewing my driver’s license at a local AAA office, my daughters asked to see my old license. I was waiting for the expected comment about my awful photo but instead, my oldest daughter asked, “Mom, why do they have you listed as a male on this license?” I immediately grabbed it out of her hand and saw that she was indeed right. Under gender, there was an M instead of an F. This change could only be done at the DMV so I was handed yet another license marking me as a male. Since I had already been a “male” for six years, I decided I could just live with this classification until it would be time to renew it again. I was amazed that no one ever picked up on this mistake even though I used my license for my main source of identification.
This week I decided to renew my license at the Norwalk DMV. I was expecting long lines, crowded rooms, and cranky employers. So I was pleasantly surprised when I only waited 30 minutes before my number was called. As I approached Window #16, I was expecting to be treated rudely and officiously. Instead, the man helping me was friendly and courteous. I explained that there was a mistake on my license and luckily he was able to make me “female” once again. Of course, it helped that I brought a certified birth certificate, passport, and other forms of identification. I had assumed that he would quickly usher me to the next window but instead eagerly began to talk to me about his experiences as an Episcopalian. (My clerical collar gave away my profession). It was apparent that he relished this moment to share stories about his Episcopal church in Bethany. As he was still talking, my name was called out to go to another window to get my photo taken. This time, the man at the counter began to spout Latin to me, “Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo”. Obviously he was a Roman Catholic and not an Episcopalian, but enjoyed interacting with a female (as my new license indicated) priest.
Do you ever have unexpected opportunities to talk about our church? As Episcopalians we are normally not comfortable speaking openly about our beliefs since many of us see our faith as a personal and private affair of the heart. However, in our ever-growing secular culture, it seems important to be willing to connect to those fellow Christians whose souls are hungry for any links to the powerful Gospel message of hope and compassion. No matter where or how these connections happen, they bind us all together as we proclaim Christ as the light that leads us out of our wildernesses. And who knows, we might even find ourselves inviting those seeking a church community to come to St. Matthew’s. Easter Sunday is always a glorious day to be introduced to our parish.