I really like the life I’ve created for myself. It’s not perfect for sure, however it is comfortable and familar and reliable. It has always been the small things that mean the most. I’ve never been a big gesture kind of person. The perfect coffee, Splenda, cream ratio, the feel of my comforter when I first wake up or go to sleep, my pillow. These are the sorts of things that make the inevitable bullshit that we all have to deal with tolerable lessons in life. Recently, I was laid off from my job, a really good job that I had just started at the beginning of the year after several months of seperating from the job I’d had for the last 8 years. In so many ways it felt like what I imagine a divorce to feel like. I was incredibly sad, mourning for the familar schedule, even as intolerable as it was. Sad that the few familar faces I’d liked there would no longer be a part of my day to day. There was anger as well, mostly because things could have been different but my first job and I had seperate ideas about how they could use my abilitys. Being laid off from the second job just a few weeks ago has been even more so a blow to my already shaken sense of self-worth and purpose. Maybe its a Hunter Gatherer sort of thing but in society a mans sense of worth and purpose are directly related to “what they do” and now here I AM not doing anything. It’s been a few weeks of self-reflection, assesment, daily attempts at self-healing, at being gentle with myself. The question now has become How do I move forward, what do I do for an income? For the first couple of weeks I’ve been just throwing my resume at the wall for more of the same thing I’ve been doing now for the last twenty plus years. I don’t think this is going to either work or bring me the sense of accomplishment and usefulness I’m looking for. I’ve had to really dive in and take a look at were my passion lies. I have another twelve years or so of working before I retire and I’d like for those years to be as joyfilled, as fufilling to myself and others as possible. Culling what you’re good at and what you like to do is an arduious task. For me I have always enjoyed helping others, its what I naturally do. So my direction now is a bit clearer than it was as far as what type of work to look for. I’m excited now because there is a sense of purpose here, firstly to find the work I’m meant to do and then of course to do it. I’m not sure how long or even were this path will lead but I’m confident that will provide new interesting experiences. So in the meanwhile, while I’m looking I think I’ll return to this perfect cup of coffee on just another Saturday morning.
Since the Inauguration there have been a number of Executive orders handed down that go against all things good and healing, against all things American. So much so that the current Pontiff, Francis has had to speak out against actions this newly enacted cabinet has taken. Francis has gone so far as to call Trump or anyone taking the actions against refugees, against humans, Unchristian. For a pontiff who has said, “who am I to judge”, this is a bold statement. Most everyone saw the storm in the candidate that the Republican party put forward, but I don’t think they thought, anyone thought, that he would win the Presidency. He is doing all that he said he would do and so for those reasons People of good Will need to band together, we need to speak out loud, reminding him and his cabinet that WE are the People, We are good and kind and welcoming to all. The next four years are going to be long but if we band together and let our voices be hear, our votes be heard, if we take action, the tide will be turned. A rebuke will be heard and delivered. The midterm elections here aren’t that far away. I will stand for Woman’s choice, for GLBT choice and the poor who’s voice is too often muffled and for the emigrant who is being pushed away from the safety of our shores.
Driving home at night was always my time with God. I would go over the events of the day, bring my intercessory prayers and work/wrestle out ideas with logic and love. Sometimes we’d even argue. On this night God and I were having a pretty intense conversation about work, my feelings, my many many frustrations with it. As it turns out it really felt like something shifted that night but I wasn’t sure what except that I knew things would be changing. It didn’t take long to find out what and when. The next day when I got to my job of eight years it became very apparent that I just couldn’t stay any longer. Between the odd schedule, odd hours, the long commute and lack of opportunity. It’s been an interesting journey since then. It’s forced me in a way to look at myself, to look at all of the changes that have happened since I decided to move back to Los Angeles from my comfortable life in Seattle. My relationship with god otherwise known as the elephant in the room has changed throughout my life (how could it not?) . Here I was again beginning to take a look at not just this relationship but my relationship to all that I’ve known, people, the space I live in. I’m convinced that God is about all our relationships including ourselves and its were we “touch” and “see” the face, the Will of “All That IS”. So I’ve been learning just how much deeper MY faith as a Catholic is. I’ve been learning just how much deeper MY belief in a Panentheistic God(dess) is. The two are not mutually exclusive BTW. For many many many years I have allowed catholicism as an organization as a religion to define itself, or rather to be defined by its Hierarchy. The same thing has been true of Paganism, of the Craft. I have my beliefs, my shared experiences with both and have learned that I get to not only define the drawings but do the coloring as well. The greatest source of pain for me within catholicism has been and remains that I as a gay married man cannot be fully embraced as equal within the church organization. I have struggled with this for years. I am learning to be ok with this. I’m being the change I want to see, as my wise friend Trish, a Catholic convert btw pointed out to me when I shared this with her over a few too many cocktails at Seattle’s Emmet Watsons one day after work.
So this is some of what’s been going on internally for me the last two months. I’ve been defining what the coloring book for work is going to look like, who’s in it, what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be doing it. I’ve wanted to make the transition to work that focuses on my strengths, abilities and most importantly my interests. You and I in this post industrial world spend most of our waking hours engaged in relationships with those we work with. I’d prefer at this point in my life that it was with people who have a somewhat shared sense of purpose. I’d rather it was with people I genuinely want to be around. I mean really, who wants to go to work with people you’d rather divorce? So on Yule this year true to God’s sense of humor and irony, on both the shortest day of the year where the Light is at it’s weakest and yet also finds its own renewed strength to conquer the Darkness around itself and increase, I was given a job offer that fits almost every bit of the coloring book I’ve been creating these past two months. I start at the beginning of this year. I’m excited, looking forward to meshing with my new co-workers and sharing my talents to make a difference in the lives of those I touch.
Catholic writer Kaya Oakes has done a wonderful service to the readers of U.S. Catholic in her recent article on women authors who are not often recognized for their Catholic identity. What caught my eye was that one of those authors happens to be one of my all-time favorites: Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize winner. […]
i came across Sex as God intended as a part of my “Exploring my roots” process that was started awhile back. I had read some of John J. McNeil when I was much younger. The Church and the Homosexual was the first book and it was liberating. Now I’ve started reading some of his other works and I find them equally (more so actually) engaging and freeing. I can highly recommend this one in particular.
Even before any sense of sprirtuality, I’ve always instincually known that the Fall is the ending of one year and the beginning of another. It just seems natural to me that this would be the case. I look forward to it with a giddiness that is childlike. I get reflective about all that has happened in the previous year and hopeful for the coming year. It is also a time when those that have crossed over are more often at the forefront on my mind. it is a time to celebrate their lives, to offer up prayers and to perform acts of Love on their behalf. This is something that surprisingly is both very pagan and very Catholic which leads me to the main point of this entry. The Wheel of the Year and its parallel in the Liturgical cycle the Church follows. One has definatley informed the other and I think for the better. It may have been for reasons of conversion and cultural preservation that say for example Christmas happens at the time of the year that the Child of Light and the beginnings of Spring are birthed in mid-december. Out of darkness comes light
The Witches Wheel
I wrote this entr awhile ago, this past Fall to be exact. it’s not profound or riddled with insight but I like it and so I’m posting it.
By Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry, October 6, 2016 A Catholic bishop in Rhode Island said there had been “no choice” when firing a gay church worker, and that the decision to do so was in line with Pope Francis’ thought. Meanwhile in New Jersey, the top administrator at a Catholic school which fired an LGBT […]
In the time since I wrote exploring my Catholic roots. I have returned to the Catholic Church. It has been an interesting process for me as a gay man married to another gay man. As a natural born hedge witch, it has been interesting on another level as well. How do you make the various parts of who you are or at least who you see yourself as being, sing together so that you become the very best you, you can be?
The first question was and to a certain extant remains the primary. How does a gay married man integrate into an institution that says in its teachings and practises that I am “intrinsically disordered”? For myself the struggle continues. I personally believe that I am called to be the agent of change I wish to see in the Church. For Catholics the Church is two things. It is her members and it is the organization with all of its many rules and rites. It is the latter that at this point in history and place that doesn’t recognize the hand of God in my relationship or in my marriages sanctity. More Catholics than ever believe that the Church should recognize and to an extant celebrate GLBT marriages. I’m ok with were the Church is at because, she is working her way towards a more perfect union with Christ. She has at times taught as part of the catechism certain things that she later changed directions on through the eternal workings of the Holy Spirit. I have Fr. John J O’Neil to thank for helping me to work things through.
As to the whole question of how does a natural born Hedge witch return to Catholicism. This answer for me lives in the last paragraph, the Holy Sprirt. I have found in my return a richness and deepness that was not there before. i see in the Rites and Sacraments a lot of what I saw as truth as a Hedge witch. It reminds me of Romans chapter 1, which incidentally is usually used as an anti-gay reference but which is a call and an appeal to Pagans at the time to See the God who made All things that S(He) is much much bigger the Creation.
The rituals in paganism and the Sacraments in Catholicism at least from these eyes are very similar. The Church in Vatican II declared that the Church is the more perfect vehicle of God on Earth and to that I agree. She is not perfect at this time, she is working her way towards that. Other religions, beliefs and ideas contain Truth and should be celebrated to the extent that they draw everyone Closer to God, who is always yearning for us to be close. There has always been a deep yearning for closeness to God since I can remember and this journey has led me along many paths, it continues to do so. I’m grateful to God for S(He) for all of my experiences, the pleasant and not so pleasant ones alike as they have all led to a more closer union with Him.
My spiritual journey has been an interesting one. I won’t go into the long winding road except to say that it started when I was seven has led to many roads, sometimes meeting and crossing other roads which led back to previous roads. I’m not sure how it started exactly except that it may have been when I bought someone a book on the Eucharist by one of my favorite authors, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser. This led to a series of internal questions. As I’ve mentioned on my Facebook page, Lonnie and I have been looking for a spiritual home. This hasn’t really gone anywhere for a number of reasons. I really was the one leading the charge. I’ve felt disconnected spiritually from a group and from any sort of spiritual practice. When I was younger I was much more active in the Catholic Church and one of the things for any practicing Catholic is the centrality of the Eucharist. Catholics believe that when the priest recites the prayers at Mass that the host and wine BECOME the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ under the appearance of host and wine. This is a hard belief for some, especially non-Catholics as well as I imagine some Catholics who prefer to think of it all as a just a symbol or metaphor. So all of this lead for me to exploring this Sacrament more deeply. There are several recorded miracles wherein the host has become actual incorruptible living flesh, in at least one case several hundreds of years old. When the Church allowed for testing in all instances the host/flesh turns out to be from a human heart from a middle eastern man with a blood type of AB positive. What’s intrigued me is that these miracles aren’t all old. They’ve continued to occur even into this century. another interesting thing is that the blood stains from the Shroud of Turin when tested also is type AB positive and from a man from the middle east. I cannot explain these things and perhaps there is a simple explanation. It got me to thinking and remembering my experience of being Catholic and how much I enjoyed going to Mass. The organized ritual feeds me as does all of the symbolism. the Catholic church is not as far from what modern day Wiccans/pagans practice. the language is of course different and the theology as well but Most Wiccans would I think appreciate the use of symbols and ritual in your ordinary Sunday Mass. So with all this being said. I’ve started going to daily mass in the mornings after Lonnie leaves for work. I find it deeply satisfying and nourishing to my spiritual life. Now as a proud gay married man you might think this would be the last place I would want to be. You would be wrong. I’ve never had a problem with Who God created in me. I recognize that I am exactly made in His image as anyone in the pew next to me. The Church, at least in theory doesn’t have any problem with me being born gay. The Church does have a problem with any sexual expression outside of marriage and of course the Church doesn’t recognize civil marriages and hasn’t Blessed same sex relationships (since the early middle ages when it did). Further as a married man doing what married people do in the privacy of their home I would not be allowed to receive communion IF I believed I were in a state of mortal sin, which I would require me (by canon law) to “know that something I’m doing is wrong and purposefully do it anyway”. I have never believed my being gay is wrong. I believe gay people have always been a deeply prophetic voice in this world. I don’t believe my marriage is wrong, in fact quite the opposite. I know my marriage to Lonnie has made us both better, loving, kind and thoughtful people BECAUSE God is Love and our Marriage is based in Love. At first I didn’t receive communion because I didn’t want to be disrespectful but then late last week, I think it was Friday as I’ve meditated on the meaning of the Eucharist celebration any reservation I might have had was washed away. It was a deep internal conversation and at the end I knew that there was no reason at all to refrain. I have received Communion everyday since. There is more that can be said I will share more of the place I find myself now. I share my experience because I do believe that by sharing my experience it might help someone who feels just a little isolated and alone in their experience. Further I can’t help to hear the words of a really wonderful Catholic friend of mine who I use to work with in Seattle. There was a whole group of us, the girls and me. We’d go to Ivars after work sometimes for drinks and nibbles. One day she asked me why I didn’t go to Mass anymore and I told her it was because of the way the Catholic Church IS with gay people. Her response is what’s stuck with me all these years. “Be the Change you want to see in the Church”. So I want to thank Trishy for her wise words and her many years of friendship. I think she’d be happy with the road I’m on now.