Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas; Break

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.

Cheers, Joe.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ice, Isaac, and Ulysses

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

Don we now our gay apparel

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

Unconditional Love

So many great postings today. It seems sometimes that folk are reading my mind. Damien , J. at Grover's Corners, and bravo to Geek Boi.

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 race
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.
That steadfast personal love, from an infinitely loving God, who knows me fully (scary thought) and loves me completely, and accepts me thoroughly.

My thanks to my electronic brethren for helping me through another day!

Cheers, Joe

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pioneers into Outlaws

In a wonderful post by Damien, he recounts some history as retold in the opera Dialogue of the Carmelites. He gives an excellent and brief summary of the story; do read it. Years ago I recall hearing part of this opera on the radio. Not a big opera fan (though I am a little one), I listened because I was so intrigued by the title. The last scene is so wrenchingly powerful The nun’s are singing, praising God; the “thump” of the guillotine giving grim punctuation as each voice is silenced, one by one, down to the last.

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

Dodging Potholes

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

New and Improved

Welcome to my new and improved blogspot.

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.

Oh No.

Well, I tried to be fancy and reformat my blog. Looks like I lost my links. I guess this format doesn't support that.

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. . . . .