Thursday, June 02, 2011

Of loaves and fishes by Jeff Wilfahrt

Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt speaking at a rally in Minnesota

I have written on numerous occasions about Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt, the Minnesota parents of Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt, a gay service member who lost his life to an IED in Kandahar, Afghanistan this past February. These are parents who, in spite of their monumental loss, have chosen to channel their grief into fighting for the very ideals for which their son fought and died, something I am not sure many of us could do under the same circumstances. So it is with great pleasure that I post (with Jeff's permission) parts of an amazing commentary he wrote for Bluestem Prairie. The essay is beautiful and is worth clicking over to read in its entirety, but here is a taste to pique your appetite. The full piece can be read here:

This last December a college friend who remains devoted to his Catholic faith and actually studied and continues to study theology sat at our kitchen and table and related a comment on the parable of the loaves and fishes. His son is considering joining the Jesuits, a very Catholic household indeed. 
According to this friend, at least some contemporary theologians would contend there was no actual miracle wherein the Christ multiplied loaves and fishes. What the Christ achieved was a miracle of persuasion. He convinced those who had, to share with those who had not.

We lost a son just a few months ago in Afghanistan. So many voices uttered the words “I can’t imagine” to which I respond “Don’t!” Only a small handful of Minnesotans know the depth and breadth of grief this brings. Believe me when I say you don’t want to even begin to know this hurt. This is not something to share.
What is to be shared from this sacrifice of service to this nation and to the soldiers to their left and right is our citizenry. This nation is something we jointly hold. Your citizenship is shared with five other million Minnesotans and three hundred million other Americans. 
That which we share is citizenship, a citizenship which allows us to all to fall under a common rule of law. The same speed limits, the same tax deductions, the same judiciary, the same constitution declaring inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is what we share regardless of race, creed or sex. 
I read a lot blogs now. Never used to do that and of course there are so many comments asking to share equal rights and so many vehement comments about religious and social traditions suggesting they aren’t to be shared, at least so far as “marriage” is concerned. 
Reflecting now on those loaves and fishes I am advocating, and I could be wrong, that the Christ parable holds the answer to our civil upset here in Minnesota about the marriage amendment. 
Recalling that phrase of a decade ago, “What Would Jesus Do” I’m speculating he’d come down to sharing. He would have found a way to persuade us on this symbolic Galilee hillside to share those rights, those loaves and fishes. And therein the miracle will reside. Let those loaves and fishes multiply, let us share by way of citizenship. It would seem to be the only way out of this marriage argument to salvage the faithful and the secular without division. Love is a powerful sentience; open your hearts to the miracle of it. Enjoy the bread, enjoy the fish, share.
I cannot think of more powerful advocates for full equality for our glbt children than parents like Jeff and Lori Wilfahrt. They know first-hand what is sacrificed so that everyone can enjoy the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

And to those who have made a religious argument for denying some of God's children the right to be treated with dignity and respect, I believe this father makes an extremely powerful religious argument for equal rights for all God's children.



Miriam said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you on this Independence Day. I am grateful to your son and your family for his service and may his memory be a blessing to you all.

NatureDudeME said...

Sending energy, love and thoughts out for both Jeff and Lori, and I hope that Andrew is in peace.
Thanks for sharing so much of the story!
Portland, ME