Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Away we go

All right. The last week was enough of a downer. Now it's time to pick up the mood a bit. It's gray and rainy outside, and that's absolutely wonderful! We, as most folk, are desperately in need of rain.

And, later this week, I'm off on holiday! Some time off, time away! Wish I could come visit friends in blog land, but I don't get to travel that far (unless some one in Memphis wants to host me for a night). I'm off to spend some time alone with myself to read and think and stuff. That may not sound like fun to many, but sounds great to me. I'll have to get some books to read, something fun. Any suggestions?

Then, I'm off to Memphis for a visit with my college daughter and see a play she's in. Then it will be back home, all the way across Tennessee and into NC.

I hope to rest and read and relax and have some fun. Cheers to all!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Many thanks to you, dear readers, for kind comments and thoughts and prayers. I'll post more later. Maybe on a happier note.

The sermon at the funeral was good, I thought, and I got a copy. Interesting gospel lesson for a funeral, but since it was a suicide, it seemed to be "spot on." See what you think.

John 6:11-13, 16-21
Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost." So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
When evening came, Jesus' disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

A Sermon for Jack

Jesus feeds the multitudes. They eat. They are satisfied. But then things are a mess. Fragments, broken pieces everywhere.

We can relate to broken, can't we. Right now, we understand being fragmented. We can relate to "mess." All our questions that have no answers we can see. For us, it is a mess. But Jesus tells the disciples to gather up all the fragments, so that nothing may be lost. Nothing.

All our fragments. All our broken-ness is gathered up for God. Nothing is lost to God. Nothing.

The disciples travel on ahead, get in the boat, head on to the other side. Jesus waits and prays. In the midst of broken-ness and fragmentation, it is a good thing for us to wait, and to pray. To wait with Jesus while we mourn and with all that we don't understand, with all the unanswerable questions.

In the boat, a storm comes up. The wind is violent. The night is dark. What will they do? What can they do? All just might be lost.

Then, Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. The disciples are terrified. This is impossible. They weren't expecting this; they cannot believe Jesus would show up like this. It is against all their expectations. And yet, here he is. His there in the storm, the turmoil, the wind, and the darkness. And in that darkness, Jesus says, "It is I. Do not be afraid."

He does not give reproof or judgment. He does not scold or deride them. He tells them "Do not be afraid." Then, he gets into the boat with them. He willingly gets into the middle of their turmoil, their darkness, their fear. Jesus gets into the boat. And the storm ends. There is peace. And immediately, they arrive where they were going. They reach home, they are safe.

Perhaps they could have rowed through the storms themselves. But they did not know that.

Maybe Jack didn't, either.

But when Jesus comes to them, he does not judge or reprove or scold. He says "It is I. Do not be afraid." And the storm stops. And the boat reaches the shore. They are home. And the same is true for Jack.

Even though we do not understand. We believe that God does. After all, God collects all our fragments, all our broken-ness. Nothing is lost. Nothing.

We pray for God's grace to help us live with our questions.
We should take time, and wait, and pray with Jesus.
We should be disciples for one another and help gather in the fragments.
And always remember, in the midst of the worst storms, or the deepest darkness, Jesus comes to us and says, "It is I. Do not be afraid."

Farewell dear Jack. Fear not. Your storm is over. Your darkness is now filled with light.

You are safe.
And home.
Fear no more.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Out of the depths, I call unto thee

Death where is thy sting? It is here, very present and very real. A friend committed suicide last night and I am reeling. I can't say he was the closest of friends by any means, but I knew him and his family. I spent several hours last night with his parents, just holding them as they screamed and cried. It is unfair, unreal, unimaginable.

His name was Jack. Please pray that he will now find peace he could not seem to find in this life. Pray that he will know companionship and intimacy with God that he could not seem to find with others. He must have been in a deep blackness that seemed impenetrable. Now we will never know. I hate this.

I was at his wedding, the baptism of his child, the intervention that moved him to seek treatment for alcohol and drugs. Counseled with him and his wife in their separation. Those are all things that I sometimes do in connection with my job, but my commitment to them as a family is not just a "job" thing. It always goes deeper.

My best friend from college and graduate school did the same thing. I've written about him before. Suicide always hits me so close to home. And it hurts.

There are no answers. None. No explanations that are worth anything. This is as close to living with an open, painful wound as there is. It's the worst.

I have had my own very deep darkness over the years. I have contemplated "ending it all." Sometimes the pain seems so deep and prolonged. There is no light. No warmth. No one with whom you can keep company. Or so it seems.

But, from the death of my friend years ago, and now from Jack's death, I learn again that suicide is no answer. For my family, my children, my friends . . . I could never do so much to hurt them as this. Maybe his pain is over. Ours is just beginning.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another National Coming Out Day

It's National Coming Out Day and I'm sitting in the doorway. I thought I might un-whine a bit by saying how grateful I am for all the progress I have made in the past year. But there is far to go. There is far I want to go.

Perhaps it is my personality. In Myers-Briggs terms, I'm very much an Extrovert. I like to talk about it (what ever "it" might be). So, to keep it so quiet is difficult for me to do. I'm very grateful for the friends I do have with whom I can share that part of my inner life, as well as the rest of me.

Last night, in dropping off my youngest at her mom's house, my wife said she knew what today was and she would be thinking about me. I had to hold back tears. She is a great woman, and I am grateful.

The weather has cooled and the sun is shining. I've got to get out for a walk today. My soul (and my fat body) need it. Something for me, today.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An Attitude

This past week and week end I came down with it. Big. Bad. Ugly. The Flu. Everything hurt. My hair hurt. My skin hurt. High fever. Yuk. Very depressing.

So, in the midst of yuk, it is very easy to whine, which I did. Something helpful I've found for un-whining is gratitude.

I am grateful for
  • that I have had to courage and perseverance to begin the journey of coming out.

  • for my children, and their long-suffering, understanding mother.

  • for a place to live, a "place of my own."

  • for an understanding, supportive place of employment. Though I am not "out" at work, folk have worked with me on schedule, time-off, etc.

  • for my friends John and John. A couple who've been together about 30 years! They've been welcoming, supportive, playful, and let me do my laundry at their house.

  • for being able to live in a beautiful part of the world, the mountains of Western NC.

  • for faithful friends and supporters in my 12 step group.

  • for comments and emails and such left by many of you that have buoyed me through a lot of low points.

  • for God's grace, embracing me with Love my whole journey. Being gay is profoundly spiritual.

  • for my kind, understanding, and very straight "regional boss" who knows I'm gay and supports me.

Gratitude fights the spirits that pull us down into the pit. It opens up my heart and mind and takes me out of myself. An Attitude of Gratitude. It's a great way to un-whine!

Cheers for now.