Sunday, February 26, 2006

Grief

I love butterflies. They are beautiful, a real wonder. But I do not like butterflies as an Easter symbol. Sure, the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and changes, emerging as something entirely new, but the creature does not die. It does not experience the grave.

I know we are moving toward the season of Lent, and it may seem premature to talk of Easter. But there is no Easter without Good Friday. There is no resurrection without the crucifixion. No new life without death. Right now, I feel like I am in the midst of death.

This Saturday afternoon, I told my wife. I am gay.

Of course this topic is one that has been part of our marriage for most all of its twenty years. But we always thought it was something else. I could get over it. I could make some choices and things could stay at status quo.

Now, she knows otherwise, and the news is devastating for both of us. I have had months to think about this. She has not. I am not sure what the next step will be, but it is one we will make together. Pray for us.

Every time I see a couple walking together, holding hands, laughing, playing with their children, I think, "Oh God, why couldn't I be normal. Why can't I be straight and regular. Why can't I fit in and make it work out." What would I give for that? Of course I know there is nothing I can give. There is nothing to be done. I am who I am, what I am, the way I am. This is devastating.

Even in the midst of my mixed up mind, I have had thoughts of our growing old together. What will we do in retirement, when the kids are grown, with grandchildren. Now, a lot of dreams are altered forever. There is much to mourn.

Once the cat is out of the bag (or rather, the bear is out of the closet), I cannot go back. For a fleeting few moments, I wanted to. That comes from that part of me that is driven to make everyone happy, to keep the peace, to please. I can do it no more. Despite my desires to be straight and normal (whatever the hell that means), I am feeling at least a bit content with who I am. I know that there will be a lot of anguish to come. But I know it will be better in the long run.

In the midst of this crucifying pain, I can only hope and pray for an Easter that will reveal new life to me, and to my wife, and eventually my children, as well. I do not understand why God is calling me on this journey, but I trust that he is with me. I ask your prayers.
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6.8b-10

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oremus

I ask your prayers.

I get really confused about prayer, sometimes, wondering what it's really about. It is all too easy to think of prayer as "trying to change God's mind." Yet, that doesn't seem quite right. There is a lot of evidence in the Hebrew Bible (i.e., the Old Testament) where "God repented of the evil." Check out Jonah, for instance.

Surely prayer cannot be about changning God's mind. If that were so, then wouldn't the one with the most prayers win? Can we convince God to love us more, or do we need to? I think not. I am firmly convinced that prayer is about changing us, not our changing God.

But if that be the case, then why prayer for someone else, unless the prayer has to do with our relationship with that person in a concrete way, such as our needing forgiveness or needing to forgive. Is it about sending energy to or toward another person? That sounds a bit new agey. And what does it mean to say that prayer "works?" Is it only if we are faithful "enough?"

The Episcopal CHurch's Book of Common Prayer (1979) says "Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words." (p. 856). Responding to God. So, God moves us to pray. Why? I can understand about God opening my heart to changes I need, but, again, how does this help others?

Thanks be to God that the power or efficacy of prayer is not dependent on my understanding it. Even though I sometimes feel clueless about prayer, I still do it. At least some. Whatever it does or does not do, it is something we are called to do. Jesus prayed, taught, and healed - and so should we. So I do. But God only knows why. Yes, exactly.


Soooooo, I ask your prayers. My process of coming out is beginning to commence to get started taking some new turns. I am frightened (but not paralyzed). I am unsure (but no less convinced). So, please keep me in your prayers, that I may be faithful to God's calling on my life, that I may not lose heart, that I may have serenity to accept, courage to change, and wisdom to know.

Pax vobiscum. Joe.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Little Lavendar

Just watched the movie Ladies in Lavendar with Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith as well as German-Spanish actor Daniel Bruhl. It was a very good film, very touching, sad, etc. But I am a bit ashamed to admit that watching Daniel Bruhl was a big attraction. It feels so good, though, to be able to admit that at all. If I am a bit ashamed, it's only a bit.

Cheers, Joe.

Friday, February 17, 2006

When the going gets tough . . . . go play

I was not really “raised,” I just grew up. With a dysfunctional family that danced around my father’s rages and abuse, my grandmother’s alcoholism, my mother’s depression, and many other issues, I quickly learned some important coping mechanisms. “Don’t bother anyone, don’t upset anyone, don’t ask questions that might be difficult to answer, don’t ask for help”. A corollary to this is, of course, pay attention to the needs of others, pull your own weight and theirs, too, their needs are more important than yours.

One of the very special holy places in my youth, a sacred space of nurture and refuge, was a creek. Playing in the water at the neighborhood creek was a very important refuge from a violent house. Slipping out the back door and over the fence, this creek was the perfect sort for building dams, canals, bridges, towns, etc. In true “boy” fashion, I’d build a dam and then knock it down. Such activity carried me away from the barriers and floods of home. Here, at least, I could be in charge of what was held back, and when the barrage was unleashed. This was holy ground, indeed. Of course we all need some holy ground and sacred space of time and distance to renew and refresh ourselves and sense of God’s presence. For me, it is still playing in a creek.

Throughout my life, God’s grace has been at work, sometimes in spite of me. The deep sense that “God will provide” was imparted to me by my mother and several experiences in which our family, always on the financial edge, would somehow get fed. God did provide.

One gift of my attention deficit disorder has been to be lame and clueless to the extent that God could push and cajole and beckon and I have followed when I didn’t even know I was being led. The emotional abandonment of childhood led me to turn to relationship with God. Hey, nobody else was around, but God always seemed to be there. In reflection, I see God’s grace and mercy very present in my life.

Here it is in mid-February, and it’s going to be 60 today! (and snow tomorrow!). I gotta get out of here. It’s time for a romp in the woods, and some playing in the water.

Cheers, Joe. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I Cried


I saw "the movie" and I cried. It was so painful on so many levels. Maybe it's a little different if your out, maybe one can critique it from a very different perspective, more as art than life.

But for me, it was all too much like life, even though Ennis and Jack and I have lives that are vastly different is most ways. I've never been to Wyoming. I haven't been on a horse since I was 5. And (significantly) I have never had a relationship with a man, only brief, nameless encounters. You can guess . . . .

But I yearn for it. So, I cried. Of course, I cry at a lot of movies. I cried for me. I cried for them.

I yearn for it, that deep, loving relationship with a man. I have a significant relationship with a woman (my wife) whom I love dearly. How do I put into words what the difference is, though I know that difference like I know my own face. It is radically different, but as yet, I cannot find a way to describe or delineate or adeqately differentiate. How strange.

I am guessing that any reading this (both of you, maybe!) will understand deeply what I am saying here. But how to put it into words. Mystery.

Anyway, Brokeback Mountain was a good flick. And I cried; for me, and for those whose longings go beyond words.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Don't ask, Don't tell.


I’ve not disappeared, just busy. I’ve been working on this post for a while, and I hope to follow it up soon. No promises. For all those out there who have been terrorized with ecstasy, there is hope, and there is healing.


At age 16 I received my first blowjob. But it wasn’t supposed to happen. At age 16 I looked like a linebacker: 6+feet tall, 200+ pounds. What irony! I looked like 21, but acted like 12. Always grave beyond my years in so many ways, I was so immature.

Bill Clinton did not invent “don’t ask, don’t tell.” It started at my house. But it went way beyond anything about sexuality. Don’t ask anything difficult. Don’t tell anything bothersome or upsetting. Best yet, just shut up and get out of the way or I’ll give you something to cry about. (Well, my father was that way. My mother did her best, but was usually depressed, heaving heavy sighs).

So, as I waited for a stall in the restroom at the mall, a hand appeared from under the partition. They thought I was waiting for something else. I did not understand what was happening, but I figured out it had to do with touching. Oh. My. God.

I did not know people did that sort of thing. I really didn’t understand. Yes, it felt good, but what was that all about? I don’t think the term “gay” had been used yet. Though I knew I was different, I didn’t know I was queer. And I didn’t know what it meant.

The results of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” household environment means, “go away and figure it out yourself.” No matter what “it” might be, take care of it yourself. So I did. And I still do. When there is no one you can truly rely on, you learn to cope on your own, even though you miss a lot along the way. And, you tend to isolate yourself.

I knew all about things academic and some practical (like laundry). But relating to others? Forget it. If it wasn’t taught in school or readily available in the public realm, (which does not include public restrooms), I was clueless.

So, in that toilet, in the mall, two men come out of the stalls. They . . . well, you know. Never had I felt anything quite so wonderful and yet been so terrified, both at the same time. Ecstasy and terror. Oh. My. God. What have I done.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell.” And, I didn’t. Not to anyone. Not for years. In that one afternoon, I learned a lot. But I lost a lot more.

More, later.

Joe.