Thursday, December 29, 2005
In the middle of the Twelve Days, I wish blessings and peace to all. I'm on a bit of a break right now, enjoying some "down time." Exchanging of presents has come and past, visits with some family, and such. I always want to extend things through the Twelve Days of Christmas, but it is hard to sustain the energy after all the rush.
But some down time is not unwelcome. So, for fun, here is a picture of the family shadows on some of the great stones at Avebury from the summer of 2004.
Grace, Peace, & Cheers to one and all. Joe.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Waiting. It is the time of year for that. For Christians celebrating the season of Advent, we prepare and wait for the Second Coming of Christ (as we prepare to remember his birth).
And I guess we’re all waiting to see what gifts we will receive, whether from “Santa” or whomever. Many, of course, are simply waiting for it all to be over.
I always think of the end of the year like the end of a semester, even though I haven’t been in any kind of school for many years. It will all be done, and there is nothing to do till it all starts back in January. Planning ahead is not a strong suit of mine. I simply wait to see what will turn up.
Living for the moment and in the moment has its benefits and its shadow-side. In my head I know the best way to be spontaneous is to have all your bases covered. But I keep forgetting where I put the bases. Which game is this? Do I run now? What?
What am I waiting for? What do I expect, what do I want. How do I see my life in a year, or five years? Do I have a plan? I’m not sure I have a clue!
The big wait for me is the wait for coming out. Coming out to others, to family, perhaps friends. Being able to be more myself on this journey than I ever have before. But it is scary; I am scared. I fear hurting the ones I love and confusing them beyond explanation. They will see and not see; hear and not hear; comprehend but not understand.
All too often I wait for something to fall from the sky or appearing in a dream that will tell me “how” to do this. Better yet, maybe something can appear in everyone else’s dreams and tell them for me. No such luck, I suppose.
I wait. This is so schizoid! So far it feels like the best Christmas yet. I feel like a self I’ve never felt like before, and yet it feels more like what I think the real me feels like. And yet there is this sword of Damocles hanging over me of “telling them all.”
Waiting, living with joy and dread. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I believe that God can work this out, will work this through, must work this miracle. In me. In those I love. In those with whom I work. With the organization for whom I work.
All this said, I still feel a sense of joy for this Christmas coming. I want to cherish it, cherish those I love and who love me.
I am very grateful for you all, the mysterious bunch of folk, known and unknown whose lives I have been able to enter through your blogs, and who have entered mine. This has been a wonderful gift. I have enjoyed the comments, advice, prayers, and the pictures! Here’s praying for blessings, peace, and cheer . . . . . as we wait.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Ice. Icing. Cold. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have ice. The freeze line was just south and east of us, so we had ice. Schools closed. No work for many. Ice.
Since we've no place to go, let's decorate! The tree has been in the house since Saturday; 'bout time we got things going. Now it's all decorated and looks lovely. Lights in the windows, and on the porch. Moravian Star hanging on the porch. Tradition.
Late this afternoon, the roads did melt enough to be able to venture out. My youngest daughter (age 14) and I ventured out to the grocery store and for some shopping. The trees appear to have been dipped in glass. Overcast skies, fog hugging the ground and sliding down the hillsides (we are in the mountains) and the trees seem to have some strange lightsource of their own. Beautiful, but in a strange kind of way. Haunting. Eerie.
And, since the weather has been bad, only about one third of all creation was out shopping instead of the 90% expected. Chores achieved in record time. Yes!
There is a bittersweet feeling for me in all this, particularly since this year I am less depressed than most years. Next year will be quite different, I think, I fear, I hope.
Coming out will be (is) a major change. I think of that line from Tennyson "Though much is taken, much abides." Giving up. I feel like Abraham sacrificing Isaac. "Take your family, your only family, and go to the place that I will show you . . . " Will there be a ram caught in the thicket?
And yet I know much abides, too. It is not all loss, nor shall it be. But still, from this perspective, it is odd. I yearn for some new freedom. And yet this is not so bad a place or situation, is it?
Still, like Abraham, I feel that what I am in the midst of doing is the faithful thing to do. Truth. Truth sets free. Honesty is the thing that will save me.
The glass like trees crack and break. The ice melts. the light fades.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Friday, December 09, 2005
I have had such a love / hate relationship with this season of the year. From my participation in the Church, I love it. Episcopalians have always been accused of being much fonder of the Incarnation than the Resurrection. Judging from our seasonal celebrations, it would appear so. Of course, there are more services Holy Week and Easter, spreading out the opportunities for the faithful who have limited time, and less visitors. We have such good entertainment at on Christmas Eve, it draws a lot of “tourists.” But, after all, it is easier, more palatable, to deal with babies than with bodies. Birth and babies are a bit more everyday, a bit more in the mainstream of life. Death and resurrection are less so. Well death is very much there but quite unattractive. Resurrection takes a lot of faith, after all.
The part of the season I hate it the decorating, shopping, gift giving, entertaining, etc. Just how gay am I? Sometimes I wonder. But it’s old stuff that rears its ugly head in my life that brings me down.
Within my dysfunctional family of origin we tried to pretend we were having a good time. One Christmas, my mother (a nurse) worked overtime to get this hunting vest my father (an SOB) wanted big time. It has a place to put shot gun shells and stuff. There are probably many reasons I don’t like hunting, either.
She got a hunting vest, but it was not precisely the one he wanted. It was trimmed in vinyl or something, not leather. In other words, it wasn’t the most expensive one, “the best.” To him it was a cheap copy and he was outraged. At least, he raged. He yelled, screamed, etc. I don’t recall if he got violent that time, but there were certainly other times.
As years went by, he wouldn’t scream, just a hrmph, and the silent treatment. Hmm.
My mother dealt with depression all the time, and so she would go to work, and come home and sleep. Decorating was something of a last minute thing, and not always very creative. I cannot remember a year when she didn’t say, “Let’s just make it a simple Christmas this year, let’s not spend too much.” Of course there wasn’t a lot to spend.
The right, perfect, affordable Christmas present is my life long goal. Surely it must be out there, and there must be some way I am supposed to be able to figure out what it is. But I never can figure it out. And I am so Attention Deficit that I can’t remember shit, and can’t focus on shopping, and so forth, and so on.
Enough of all that. Christmas has always been a time when I could never please anybody enough.. It was never, ever enough. Are you getting depressed right now? Well, you should be. Because if you aren’t then I’ll have to be depressed all by myself, and , , , ,
Enough. This year has already started out differently. It is going to be a good year. I figure that nobody may like my decorating ideas, but I don’t give a shit. I am going to take some initiative and get some decorating done today!
I figure I can let some gayness out. I know it’s good for this type of thing. I’m going to let it rip. You go, honey. Do it.
If only with myself (and you, my extended, electronic “family,”), coming out has given me a sense of peace about some things. I’m still f---ing scared as sh-- (I always cuss when I get anxious), but I’m going to let some of that queer eye come out. Some of the gayness that leads me to love decorating things and celebrating.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
In Katzanzakis’ Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus struggles with the Father’s call on his life. So, to keep God from bothering him, Jesus uses his carpentry skills and becomes a cross builder for the Romans. Surely that will tell God he ain’t worth the trouble. But God will not let him go.
And God has not let me go, though I’ve thought that I was becoming the “cross builder.” Still, I cannot understand why God will have anything to do with me. But it’s not about me. It’s about God.
From a hymn text by Brian Wren:
When generation, class, or raceThat steadfast personal love, from an infinitely loving God, who knows me fully (scary thought) and loves me completely, and accepts me thoroughly.
divide us to our shame,
[Christ] sees not labels but a face,
a person, and a name.
Thus freely loved,
though fully known,
may I in Christ be free
to welcome and accept his own,
as Christ accepted me.
My thanks to my electronic brethren for helping me through another day!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
God forgive us all.
Joe Perez's post reviewing the recent sci-fi movie Serenity makes a point that feels connected to Damien’s observations:
Serenity takes a huge interest in spirituality and offers an unconventional approach that should resonate with many gays and lesbians. Serenity’s is a message for all trailblazers of new spiritual territory in times when the price of being a pioneer is enough to make you an outlaw.The price of being pioneers is enough to make us outlaws. A role we did not seek or consciously choose, I suppose. But it seems to be a role that has chosen us.
For all the “dysfunctionality” of my family of origin, for all the weirdness, violence, and emotional nightmares of growing up, I learned a few things of great value. My mother was often one to buck the system, just a little. She had a keen sense of justice (for everyone but herself, but that’s another story). From that I picked up a strong sense of honesty, integrity, justice, and “doing the right thing.” (Even though doing all that for myself has taken half a century to begin)
In a way, I have always wanted “a fight.” A prayer for Social Justice in the Prayer Book (of the Episcopal Church) asks that we may “fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression.” But this is not the fight I wanted. Poverty, hunger, housing, racial equality, you name it, I’ve been ready. But this? To fight for acceptance by the Church, my family, the culture, even the government (and even myself)? No.
The other fights (housing, poverty, etc.) are very important, and always I want to be “waving those flags,” too. But they are not as personal to me, not quite so close to home. But this fight has chosen me. So be it.
Let us make no peace with oppression.
Matthew Shepard, Billy Jack Gaither, Private Barry Winchell: ora pro nobis
Monday, December 05, 2005
Reading in different blogs about all the hullabaloo in the Roman Catholic Church over homosexuality in candidates for the priesthood, I start feeling paranoid . . . again.
The words about “deep seated tendencies,” “transitory experiences,” and all the other language in the Vatican’s document got me worried that I am making a mistake by coming out. Maybe they are right. Maybe I am sick, maybe it is some unnatural thing and I shouldn’t be who I am. Shame, feeling of inadequacy, I’ll never get it right, I’ll never be good enough . . . . .
A wave of fear began to sweep over me, again. The sense of on-going struggle to try to be someone else. But I’m not falling for it this time [he said to himself, confidently]. Many times before, I have fallen for it. I have used that lame reasoning to keep myself in, to keep from hurting anyone else, to keep the door shut, not just for others but for myself, as well [he said, trying to sound confident, but alas, there is a wavering in his voice].
All these arguments have been made before. It’s nothing new. But there is just enough convincing sounding language that it will be very easy for folk to fall into that trap again. Please God, help me keep my eyes open, my heart strong, and my head upright.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Advent - the season before Christmas - is about waiting. But it's not waiting for Santa, or waiting for a baby in a manger. It's about waiting and watching for Christ to come again in Glory; the Second Coming; the End of Days; the Apocalypse.
Images rush in: death, destruction, war, famine. pestilence. etc. etc. So, what's new? Famine, war, death we got in spades. Look at Pakistan, or New Orleans, or Biloxi, and you see destruction. Don't forget Darfur. And on international AIDS Day, we can focus on plagues and pestilence, I guess.
But a deeper meaning of the Apocalypse is God's reign of love and justice, the Great Commonwealth of peace. The images of streets paved with gold weren't being descriptive, but suggestive. The Book of Revelation was trying to evoke the most beautiful, wonderful place possible. The New Jerusalem, the City of God.
This may be too far out for some, and I have no idea how all of this will come about, nor do I know when. I'll leave that to the fundmentalist prognosticators (bless their hearts). BUT, it gives hope. YES! there shall be a day, there shall be a time. We will all know justice. We will all be welcomed to the heavenly banquet.
All the closets, all the hiding, all the shame passing away. . .
Heaven, Nirvanna, whatever one wants to call it, in whatever way one wants to conceive it - in whatever form or way one understands "God." I'll not quibble over that. Just a great commonwealth of love, justice, and peace. O Come, O Come.
I'll try and see if I can get it all back, or do it all again. Computers are dangerous, and unforgiving, machines. It only does what it is told to do, but I can't always speak its language.
What next. . . . .
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The weather is weirdly balmy today with a high aroung 60. Too bad I've had to work. It would have been a great day for a hike! But there is always a lot of work after a holiday weekend.
I visited with a friend in a local Hospice care facility. He is only in his 70's, and I'm not sure what his diagnosis is, only his prognosis. I went in the morning; he was drugged but he knew me. Then breakfast arrived. he couldn't really manage eating on his own, hands too shakey. So I took some extra time and fed him. Remembering to be patient while feeding someone is important so he doesn't choke. I had toa practice some mindfulness and focus on picking up each bit of egg or grits and carefully guiding it to his mouth. Then, focusing on his mouth and chewing and swallowing. A good practice and lesson in patience for me.
I hope someone will feed me, one day, if necessary.
Much accomplished through the day, despite several meetings that were important (I guess) but nonetheless tedious. Maybe the weather will hold out long enough for me to get a hike in on Thursday (when I can swing some time).
While I can still feed myself, while I can still walk, while I can still focus and be mindful, I will give thanks. Deo gratia.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Over Thanksgiving, I was able to walk a Labyrinth. It’s one of those patience-demanding, quiet-inducing sorts of activities; heart-opening, spirit-engaging.
It doesn’t really provide answers as much as it helps to raise questions.
- Where will I be nest year this time? My wife’s family (and I) have (for the last nine years) gathered at the same place for Thanksgiving. What will it be like for me, and for them, next year?
- Coming out is a kind of conversion experience. Another kind of being born again (take that Pat Robertson). The way I look at things, my perspective on things has changed, shifted. How does coming out to myself change the way I relate to the world? Not just people but places and events.
- I’ve had a long history with this place well before I brought family here. I can’t tell you what an important place it is to me. A place where I have on so many occasions wrestled with God. Will that continue? It seems different, now. Less wrestling, more accepting. Yet, more of a distance, but more at peace. O God this is confusing.
- I love this part of the world. Can I continue to live here? Will I have to move to a totally different area? What will the impact of all this be on my relationship with my children?
- I pretty well know that I will not be able to continue in the same place I am now working. But will I be able to continue in the same line of work? It’s the only thing I know. I don’t really want to do anything else.
- Will coming out so completely overshadow everything so that I am unemployable?
Somehow, in the midst of it all, deep inside, with a calm sense of peace, I know that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” I just don’t know what that will all be like. That’s one bit of control I don’t have.
A professor of mine in grad school paraphrased Rilke in saying “Do not concern yourself with answers, but learn to Love the questions.”
Mind the gap, and mind the bear. Deo gratia.
Oh shit. I was caught up short. Yes or no. I had often asked God to make me straight but never asked if I were gay. I mean, do you ask that? Why would I. Well, why not? This may have sparked the beginning of this part of my journey. Oh, God. I am gay. But I don’t want to be. Do I?
Self-acceptance doesn’t come without struggle. But there have been so many years of self-loathing. It’s hard to like what you have learned to hate. But, little by little it is happening. Far more quickly than I might have thought. O the joy of feeling thankful for who I am! To feel gratitude for the many facets of my life that make me me. Deo gratia.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
We come with self-inflicted pains
Of broken trust and chosen wrong,
Half-free, half-bound by inner chains,
By social forces swept along,
By powers and systems close confined,
Yet seeking hope for humankind.
Lord God, in Christ you call our name,
And then receive us as your own;
Not through some merit, right, or claim,
But by your gracious love alone;
We strain to glimpse your mercy seat,
and find you kneeling at our feet.
Text by Brian Wren, 1973 © 1977 Hope Publishing Co.
So much of my theology, the how and why and what of my beliefs is set forth in poetry, music, art, etc. The texts of hymns are a major place that my beliefs hang. This is the text of two stanzas of a work by Brian Wren, one of my favorite contemporary hymn writers. For me, it bids us all welcome, reminding us of Christ as the one who came to serve, and who calls us to do the same.
Monday, November 21, 2005
What a concept. I can put a name on all these years of isolation. That inability to connect deeply with other people, particularly men. Fear, distrust, can't talk about. There have been some "connections," but you don't want to know. (Well, even if you do, I ain't telling it here). It was anonymous, sick, unhealthy, unhelpful. It denied relationship, it was a lie.
I wish not to live in solitary confinement any longer. Adjusting to the "outside world" is going to take time, but I can do it and will do it. I can have friends, make friends, come out of this closet into the light. Look, I know some of this sounds corny, but, God, it feels so good. Just these first steps.
It is funny how I've never ever felt like God abandoned me or condemned me. Never. For all some Christians say about what they think God wants, I wonder if they ever really asked God directly, or has it just been their reading (misreading) of scripture? I wonder.
Even God feels much more open to me now. Just a few steps. The journey keeps on.
But there are upsides, as well. I will tend to be the one who will say what most everyone is thinking but will not say. On occasions of public speaking or such, I am very good (so I’m told). Even if the content may be lacking, I’m entertaining.
I’ve never questioned this about myself. It’s just me. Yes. It is. Is this part of being gay? We know the stereo-types, but they DO come from somewhere. Is this part of the gift of being gay that I haven't claimed as gay or put together. So many pieces. So much to ponder and wonder and discover. Thoughts appreciated.
The part about "male attraction" I understand as gay. I've felt that and want to feel it more (as much as I might want to, let's not go there right now). That is perhaps the main "part" of being gay that so many people (and of course, many Christians) cannot understand or accept. But we know that isn't the only part, the single aspect.
I will confess that I am in the Episcopal Church. We've had a lot going on in our denomination about GLBT persons and their place in minstry (and activities in private, too). I heard of a lesbian priest talking with a parishioner lamenting the loss of members in the Church. They agreed that they might gain some members, as well. The priest said, "Yes, they'll have infinitely better taste, too."
There are some things we do well because of who we are. I feel so relieved to begin claiming all of me.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
The picture (I took it myself!) is Mt. Pisgah: the mount from which Moses saw the promised land. Around here, we figure that if we can see Mt. Pisgah, we must be in the Promised Land.
Altitude gives new perspective. One can truly see the lay of the land, the expanse of creation. The horizon get farther away. Somehow the world seems much bigger, and yet everything is smaller. Big things can suddenly seem inconsequential. Not so insurmountable. "Lift thine eyes, oh lift thine eyes."
A beautiful experience, and the pilot was really hot, too. But, alas. This was a great gift. I recommend it for all. (a bit expensive, but worth it).
Cheers to one and all, and any. MindtheBear.
Friday, November 18, 2005
The drive to want to tell the world is strong but the reasons not to do so are stronger. I pray my will and sens of discernment are strong enough to hold out. Thank you, BLog, for being the window that has opened for me. I really do not like being "anonymous." But for now, it protects the innocent.
I have two children, daughters, 14 and 17. Last night, I had this strong desire to come out to them. I knew it was not the time. I have to officially come out to their mom (my wife) and go from there. I say "officially" because "it" has been an issue that has surfaced several times in our nearly twenty years of marriage. It's not like she doesn't suspect something. But the truth is the only thing that will set me free, and all of us free. We are redeemed by the Turth, for the truth.
The library of the place where I went to grad school had this statement carved in stone by the doorway: "Seek the Truth, Come whence it may, Cost what it will." The costs seem high, but I have faith that they will be worth it, eventually.
But I want to share this all with the ones I love most. Instead, I seem reduced to sharing it through electrons and radio waves here. (And yet, thank you for being here). It seems so totally bassackwards. I have so much to learn. I so appreciate those who have left comments for me. They have helped. I feel some connection with loving souls I've never really met and will most likely never see. And yet, even though is may be hind end forward, it is what is working for me.
"O Love that triumphs over loss, we bring our hearts before thy cross, to finish thy salvation." - from a hymn text by Walter Russel Bowie
If I may suggest, I've been reading a collection of essays/ stories by Nathan Gunther called "Queer as Faith" at http://www.gaychristian.net/qaf/ I don't yet know how to havge hidden links thing. I nonetheless commend it to you.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
No whining here, this isn’t about how badly I’ve been treated. This is NOT “nobody loves me, everybody hates me, goin’ to the garden and eat some worms.” This about how I felt about me. My feelings may have counted for something to others, but never to me.
Earning my way in the world, proving my worth. You’d think I’d have gotten it by now. I suppose it has a lot to do with my co-dependency. “Always thinking of others” is no virtue in me, it’s a defense, an excuse for never thinking of me. What do I want? Whatever you’d like.
But today, I basically took the afternoon off from work. I’m in a position where I can set my own hours, so it was no big deal.. Except I never do that without feeling so guilty about it. Today, I felt good about it! Yes, I do matter, I take up space and I need some right now.
Perhaps this is why it has taken me so many decades to come out. The feelings, desires, wants, needs, existence of others has always been more important. My parents and grandparents somehow inculcated me with “stay out of the way, don’t bother anyone.” So, I have come along with the sense that to take up space is to “bother” somebody.
Now, as the saying goes, the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of changing. This is a decision for me. Though I have long known in my head that others are responsible for their own feelings, etc., I have not seemed to be able to act in a way to be responsible for my own. Often, I haven’t given “me” much consideration.
Today, I take up space and I am unashamed of it. I know that coming out will be a big bother to many. It will hurt many, and I will hurt with them. But we will all handle it, deal with it, take care of it, live through it. I know that I will.
It feels good. One day, I’d love to find someone to share this space with me. Closely.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
What does "straight acting" mean? Having been living for 50 years pretending to be str8, I'm not sure if I really am str8 acting or not. I know that I can be a bit effeminate sometimes, but I'm anything but femme. Large, hairy, overweight, big feet, very bearish. Am I likely to act differently since I have come out (to myself, anyway)? On this I must ponder.
Cheers, Mind the Bear
What part(s) of me have I always accepted as "me" but are parts that have something to do with being gay? Or are they simply part of being human? I know that being gay means more than just sexual behaviour. But what does it mean?
Is it behavioural? How I walk or act or use my voice? Most stereotypes have within them a modicum of reality, they come form somewhere, after all. But what stereotypes of "gay" do I exhibit and are they part of the essence of being gay.
I have done no reading on the subject, and I'm sure there are resources out there. I'd appreciate any suggestions.
I want to delight in who I am, and that is beginning to happen (in between the bouts of depression). Am I "acting" more gay? Have I always acted this way? Maybe they have all already figured it out and are just waiting for me? There could be some relief in that.
What difference does it make, what is the essence of it?
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
What do I know about being gay of bisexual or any of that? Hell, what do I know about being straight? Where do we learn these things? How do we learn them? Yes, I know, culture, family, heredity, yada, yada, yada. But what do I know about being gay?
Well, there is the sex part. I am somewhat familiar with that, I am sad to say, from all kinds of experiences: fast, anonymous, guilt-ridden. For the most part, all I know about being gay is from this kind of thing. Not a great place to start. And, I know that I struggle with a sexual addiction.
When I am really "out", will I be able to build relationships that aren't merely sex? Can I restrain myself from acting-out in such unhealthy ways? I am frightened by it all. Of course, there is one part of me that wants to act-out all over the place. And, I am not implying any judgment on any one else. But for me, I know the whole "relationship" thing is a struggle in itself. Will I make friends, build relationships, enter a community with integrity? Please God.
At least, I have begun to "come out" to myself. I have made the decision to begin living the truth. It's not that I have been living a lie, exactly. But I have been living a half-truth. I have been so caught in pleasing others, following an agenda set by others, that I have gotten lost in the shuffle. To live with integrity, as an integrated person, all the parts meshing as they are intended to mesh (well, most of them, anyway). The Truth is the only thing that saves us.
As I am starting this blog, I would appreciate hearing from anybody, just to see if anyone finds me.
Cheers, Mind the Bear