Dr. Jane A. Spahr (April 2003)

I met Janie Spahr for the first time in 1997, while attending a More Light conference being held in Portland. Trying to describe that first meeting is difficult, because when you meet Janie Spahr, you are not just meeting a person. You are meeting an event.

When she is with you, it is likely that you will forget anyone else is in the room. When Janie speaks in front of a group, it is as if the air in the room changes… electrifies somehow… so that you walk away changed from the experience, wondering how so much grace, power, and gravitas can live in one woman.

Five years later, I was in Lambda Rising bookstore when I came across a picture of Janie, standing in a church, holding her arms up in benediction. My eyes reveled at the caption: “Dr. Jane A. Spahr at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC.” I couldn’t contain my excitement. I turned a few pages, and there was Susan Leo in the same church. I called out to my partner, “LEENIE! We *have* to go to this church!!!”

Kathleen and I had been looking for a place to attend church for a while, and were starting to become tired with the process. We had so little alone time as it was that the call of being spiritual was starting to weaken in light of staying in bed, holding each other close, and the joyful alleluias inherent within. So we would go to Westminster, but it would have to be something pretty special to get us to stay.

The first thing that tipped us off to the fact that it was kind of different was the use of coffee and muffins for communion. Ruth, one of the pastors, came up to us after the service was over and said, “I hope you don’t mind that we didn’t use grape juice.” “Oh, no,” I said. “Coffee is often a life-giving substance for me.” She laughed and said, “boy… are you going to fit right in….”

And we did. Kathleen joined a class to learn how to make stained glass, I joined the choir, we both helped to grout the labyrinth being tiled into the floor, and most of all- we made friends in the process.

Somewhere along the line (I think it was Good Friday), I was asked to sing a hymn from behind the partition that separated the choir from the congregation so that no one would know where the voice was coming from. It would have been a beautiful effect, except that when I slipped up into the choir loft, I didn’t realize that I had forgotten my hymnal.

Panicking, I called out to Kathleen. She managed to get me a book without being seen. I said a quiet prayer to God for sending me this wonderful woman. “Where would I be without her?” I thought to myself. Relieved, I sat back in the dark sanctuary to enjoy the service.

A few seconds before the appointed time, I started flipping through the book, looking for the hymn I was supposed to sing. My beautiful, wonderful, angelic wife had slipped up to the choir loft and given me a bible.

I would have been completely screwed if I hadn’t remembered that this hymn was only sung once a year, anyway, so I could probably make something up and get away with it.

I stood up to sing…

What wondrous love is this

O my soul, O my soul

What wondrous love is this

O my soul

What wondrous love is this

What wondrous love is this

What wondrous love is this

O my soullllllll……

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