Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Mindfulness and Feeding

Thanksgiving was good time off. I am very thankful for life and the support of electronic friends who have supported me in my journey.

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.

Cheers, Joe

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Walk a Sacred Path and Learn to Love the Questions

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.

Sic et Non

A couple of years ago, my therapist flat-out asked me, “Have you ever asked God if you were gay?” Well, of course . . . . .certainly . . . . . I mean why wouldn’t . . . . .

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

Kyrie eleison

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. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

No More Solitary Confinement

A friend of mine is a retired pastor. Once, he told me, a prominent big wig community leader came to him privately, knowing my friend was supportive of the gay community, though straight himself. This man said that he knew he was gay; no one else knew; he never came out. But, he said, "Before I die, I want one other person to know I am gay". My friend called it "solitary confinement."

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.

All of Me.

There is a part of me this is, well, a bit flamboyant, I suppose. I can certainly be outrageous every once in a while. I can be very funny, a bit dramatic, some what of a ham. I enjoy, and I don’t think I over do it (let’s hope not). Of course, this kind of behavior can have its dark side. One can wax a bit too eloquent and dramatic and flamboyant, sometimes. [After all, where do you think the term “flaming” comes from?] But it can be stealing too much of the show, an over played stunt to get attention.

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


For my birthday, my family gave me a hot air balloon ride! It was truly an experience full of awe. Always have I wanted to do this, but never have. Now I know I want to be a balloon pilot in my next life.

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.
 Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2005

Truth & Consequences

Every day, we begin again. Didn't St. Benedict say that? And I think is was Thomas Merton who said, "Surely we are always beginners." So it goes. Beginning. Always. Coming out for me is an "always beginning" soet of thing. I have accepted the courage God has given to end the struggle within myself, but now it must begin outside. OK buddy, do you want to take this outside?

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.

Cheers, Joe

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Taking up space

Today I began to feel that I take up space. May not sound like much, but for so many years, I have felt as if I barely existed, that I did not take up space in the universe. As if I simply weren’t there. Not invisible, just inconsequential. How I felt was of little account – to me.

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

I'm always a bit bassackwards

After my post of earlier, I went to read some posts by geek boi. ( geek boi - uncensored: Types (now in Stereo!) ) It's all be said before, and far more eloquently than I.

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

Begin to Commence to Get Started

Coming out. There are times with I really enjoy this new found sense of freedom, even if it is only freedom of thought and not expression, yet. I have come out to myself decisively. New feelings and thoughts to which to become accustomed. But what are they all?

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

This is a strange journey to begin. After all these years, I have decided finally that I am, indeed, gay. I have fought it tooth and nail. I have tried to find every other way for "getting out of it". But it is really so clear. Is it just trouble in relationships? Is is some kind of childhood shit that is unresolved? Is it just a sexual addiction? After all, I have a wife, children. I have been able to "perform" with out much trouble. Perhaps I am bi-sexual? So, if that be the case, why do I feel I can't do this anymore?

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

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Journey Begins

Posted by Picasa Yes, that really is me, summer of 04.

Hello from blog land

This is my first attempt at writing something for my blog. I hope this thing works.