Monday, January 23, 2006

What a pain in the back!

This past week, I twisted my back, straining some muscles. Apparently my sacro-iliac joint gets stuck sometimes. It has not happened very often, but I’ve had this kind of episode very occasionally over the last 20 years. So, it isn’t just the joys of aging. I have had this happen twice now in the last three months. We are not amused.

Ice, then heat, large doses of anti-inflammatory drugs muscle relaxers, and even the occasional heavy drugs. What must if be like for those with chronic conditions or disabilities. I have no right to complain, but, of course, I do.

It is hard for me to slow down, let alone stop dead. In spite of years of neglect, I am strong as an ox (usually), and I have a rather high tolerance of pain. At 6’2”, 250 lbs., size 14 shoes, big bones, and a very thick skull, I feel ridiculous when I am hobbling around, walking very gingerly, holding on to things, hollering and near tears because of the pain.

I am not a happy camper. But I don’t get angry, I get depressed. The world as we know it has ended. All of life is but pain and suffering. Woe is me!

What a whiner! It’s better now. Much. And unusually good weather even permitted a short, easy hike on Friday (only about 3 miles). I am grateful. Yes. Very grateful.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The year is off to a busy start. Ugh. I have had meetings and stuff, and more stuff, and making the time to write is difficult. And, I have felt a bit empty of late, nothing much to say.

But, one little update: I had a meeting with my "boss" and told him about me, the truth, the whole truth. He was very supportive of me and my journey to come out. What a relief. I thought that he would be supportive, but there is always that unknown. What if this is the one big issue for him? Thankfully, it's not something he flips over but is accepting of, but he understands the breadth and depth and heighth of the issue for me. He was down-right pastoral. Thanks be to God.

The weather has been crazy here, highs in the upper 50's and even the 60's. This is very strange for us, in the moutains of Western NC, in the dead of winter. But I must say it has been nice to get outside a little bit. Oh, how I yearn for a day of hiking.

By the way, today is St. Aelred's Day. Integrity claims Aelred as its patron saint, which you may read about here.

Thank you, friends, for prayers and support and just being there.

Cheers, Joe.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What am I dreaming for . . . ?

What happens when “all our dreams come true?”  And, whose dreams are they, anyway?  Mom’s or Dad’s, or “the family’s,” or society’s, or the Church’s, or God’s ?

We often dream of having something that we have been told is the thing to dream for.  Television, Hollywood, and Madison Ave. put forth visions that we sometimes hold as dreams.  The image of the perfect body, the perfect job, or spouse, or car.  But whose dream is it, really?

In the Broadway musical  “Wicked” (which more or less tells the “Oz” story from the point of view of the witches), Glinda the good witch wins Fyero the handsome man.  Both are popular, beautiful, but rather shallow. 

As their eyes are opened to new perspectives, things change.  Even at the point of having “all their dreams come true,”  Glinda can see that it is not so simple as black-or-white, good-or-evil; things are not so clear.  She tries to put up a good front, even as parts of her dream are falling apart.

That's why I couldn't be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated.
But I couldn't be happier
Simply couldn't be happier
(spoken) Well - not "simply":
(sung) 'Cause getting your dreams
It's strange, but it seems
A little - well - complicated
There's a kind of a sort of : cost
There's a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn't know you crossed
Until you've crossed
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn't thrill you like you think it will
Still - With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Who Wouldn't be happier?
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn't it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

Whose dreams do we live by, and live for?  Are they ours, or someone else’s?   So often folk say “they just want to be happy.” But what does that mean? 

Growing up I was well trained as a caretaker.  Take care of Mom, take care of Granny, take care of the house, and (especially) take care of yourself (which means, “I don’t have time for you, go figure it out on your own.”)

I did not have a dream to live by, so I just made it up, based on what I thought would make everyone else happy.  Ah, yes, classic Co-dependence:  always focused on others; trying so hard to control others because only that way can you control yourself. 

An old joke:  When we are on our deathbed, our life flashes before our eyes.  For the co-dependent, some one else’s life flashes before your eyes!

In my sacred journey, I have become so deeply aware that I have been trying to lead someone else’s life, someone else’s dream.  So focused on the needs of others, I am only now learning about my own needs.  Slow learner.  But, better late than never. 

I have wanted to be someone else so badly.  Wanted to be straight, and married, and a father, and pursue the career to which I felt called (and which I do pretty well, when I’m at my best).  I got almost all of these things.  Except, I never could get it straight about being straight.  Something has always felt out of kilter, incongruent,  distinctly strange.

Living someone else’s dream.  How do we discover or discern our own dreams?  To be, or not to be, that is the question.  I have no answer as to how; I only know that it is beginning in me. 

It’s really more important to focus on the journey and not so much the destination.  The journey, the here, the now.  Yes, plan ahead, but be prepared for anything.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Meeting

Thanks for prayers and thoughts for my meeting yesterday. It went extremely well. My boss listened, is understanding, and supportive. He cautions moving slowly in my process of coming out, which is confirmation of my intentions.

Leaving the outcome in God's hands is the tough thing. Wisdom to know what I can do and what needs leaving alone is my prayer.

More later.

Cheers, Joe.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Journey is Sacred

When asked once if I “had a plan,” I answered, “Oh, hell. I don’t even have a clue!” That’s me all over. As Thomas Merton wrote in his famous prayer, "O Lord, I do not know where I am going." But I know I am not alone. Sometimes I may feel like it, but I am not.

I had promised myself I would wait through the holidays before moving very far ahead on the great coming out plan. Well, the holidays are over. Back in December I made an appointment with my boss. He really isn’t my direct “boss” but sort of the regional executive. He is a very good man, and I believe he will be open and affirming of me. I hope.

The meeting is tomorrow (Wednesday, 01/04/06). Prayers, please.

Bringing him in to this picture is risky but necessary. I need support, and I may need to “put in for a transfer.” Some counsel will be helpful as to where to go next, figuratively speaking, but perhaps literally, as well. But what if he flips out, what if he tries to get me fired, what if he ends my career? What if , what if.

Please God, give me serenity to accept, courage to change, wisdom to discern.

The picture is actually a photograph of a billboard in Durham, England, advertising a movie about Durham, St. Cuthbert, and Lindisfarne. This picture has become a sort of icon for me, as my sacred journey had strong beginnings in the summer of '04 when my family and I traveled in the UK. Also, I like the very bearish viking!

More about that sacred beginning another time.

Grace & Peace, Joe. Posted by Picasa