Ready to fight back? Or Scared? Or don’t know what to do? (I’m all three)

I wrote a short homily the other day while I was stuck in bed with some kind of cold/flu thing. It was about introducing our Grand Baby into our house that has a pack of fairly attention whore dogs. You know you’re never sure how that’s going to go. It led to a meditation on “How I Came to Love Pit Bulls,” which I might publish soon, if I can get the thing to wind up with a pleasant end.

I’m not afraid of the dog breed (most any dog breed, come to think of it) and I know their reputation as a nursemaid, babysitter, protector. Sometimes there’s a difference between reputation and reality.

That same sort of unknown fear pops up when we get ready to fight back: it’s quite possible we could step forward and begin to speak and the whole thing explode in our face like a rotten tomato on a hot summer day. (Been there. You never forget that smell.) My fear was around my family. I have had this lucky, blessed life all the way up until this year in which universal acceptance is the norm. All those multiple coming-outs (there have been quite a few in the medical part of my life) have sped along as if … nothing.

Yet now, it’s different.

Within my immediate family there’s those of us who are pretty much mortified about current events and we wonder how we, as “the right kind of” Christians are supposed to respond to all that badness that fell into our lives, and which we cannot escape for a very long time.

And then there are those who ecstatic about these changes, who call the protesters “Losers”, and say terrible things like “They will thank us later.” No. I’m afraid I won’t. My choice.

Those people frighten me. After hearing/reading such comments I had a moment of panic because I did not know what to do with these people, now to respond to them, or how to even keep them in my life. I still don’t know the answer to that last one. I did send around news that we won’t be discussing politics (etc) at family gatherings. We see each other as a whole group so infrequently that let’s not waste precious time together focusing on what might bring hurt feelings to someone else at the table. We must love our family because they are our family, and they are – in Christian Speak – our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Good God, sometimes that’s tough to do. Especially if you fear their derision.

Find your ministry.

Mostly beyond that fear of emotional hurt, I’m not sure where to start or what to do. The answer to that is completely within you, and it’s not too difficult to dig in and get some ideas. Voting and politics is an example:

That whole milieu of volunteering and helping out and working the polls doesn’t interest me at all. Not that it isn’t a very important action that needs to be built up and maintained, it just isn’t my thing.

If I’m making a charitable contribution to a large/national organization, first I want to know how much of my donation goes to the mission of the organization, and how much goes to salary, fund raising, and fluff. I’m building a static page here that will list the best place to research the usefulness of your donation, along with some ideas on where to donate. Somewhere on that list there must be something that interests me, or that gives me an idea to then go looking for the charity that interests me.

Edit down if you have to.

You can’t do it all. And you can’t finance it all, even at $15-20 a pop. My first step in this process is to look at current charitable donations and see if I need to re-direct that money to something else. What on the list is must do, what is I’d like to do, and what is one of these days I’ll do it?

Learn to say NO.

The bane of my existence is “Oh. You’re retired. You have time to …” No I do not. Or the wasted subtlety of “What do you do with yourself all day?” You’re reading it. I had to learn to say no to what others thought for me that I could do, and focus on what I wanted. I’m a writer, a musician, a contemplative, and then I write some more. Maybe if I look around within my activities I can find something that I can do to help that I enjoy doing, that my body will endure doing (there’s some pretty heavy limitations there.)

Stop being so angry.

Oh, this is the most difficult one! My body and my spirit are filled with so much anger that by the end of my day I don’t want to hear about current events, I don’t want to discuss them. I want to sit in my proverbial prayer closet and have a rest. I want to recap the day. I want to quiet my mind and say, “Thank you for helping me make it through another day.”

Some days that is battle enough: to just make it through the day.

And the take-away from that is simple. I have made it through this day, and used my contemplative mind to consider the possibilities of standing up to fight (whatever “fight” means) and do it in a safe way that doesn’t feed my fears. Tomorrow, I learn a little more, and a little more the day after that.

As the old song says, “Every round goes higher, higher”

Keep the faith!
– Amen




The illustration above is from “The Siege of Antioch” during the first Crusade. Certainly not Christianity’s bright shining moment. We didn’t thank them later.






Something I forgot to tell you, mostly because I was too upset.

This doesn’t go for historical or “national” heroes like Sojourner Truth or Frederick Douglass. I’m talking about the people who are (physically) close to you, in your life. I gained a very sad (at the time) perspective in the last few weeks when one of those close to home personal heroes of mine lost that mantle of  greatness for me, even to the point that they had to go away from me and my good wishes for them.

I was upset (very upset!) for a couple of days until I remembered something that one of our Mercedes selling friends said to Bill when we lost the Euro Delivery car to a hit-and-run driver. He was in tears as he talked about that wonderful car and what it had meant to us.

She told him not to get so emotionally attached to the car. At the end of the day – it’s a car, and you have it because it has a job to do.

It made a great deal of sense to me in these following weeks as I realized that the people in our lives that we think are heroic are at the same time, human, with all the human foibles that come along with it .At the end of our day – they are people … humans … “Guys.”

I love having people like that in my life: they help me to get up in the morning, to write another 500 words, to appreciate every day for the brilliance it is. They inspire me in ways I never imagined and in ways that they are not even aware.

If they stop being so great in my eyes, it’s ok to lose that feeling of their greatness, and not weep for the loss. And if it is so bad that they need to go their own way without me on their radar or them on mine, then that’s ok.

I don’t need to feel any loss that they are gone.

Why? Because there is always a long line of heroes waiting to get into our lives, and we’ve just not found them yet. I embrace the great people in my life, and hold on to them for as long as I can. And I mostly don’t tell them about their status with me. It doesn’t matter in the long run. They are just living the life that they have been called to do.Humans. “Guys.”

Keep the faith!

 – Amen



a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”





To My Daughter, on the Day America Said Yes to Her Dads’ Love

The recent Supreme Court decision on marriage in America effects not just the participants in that marriage. It also profoundly effects their (and our) families.


by David Valdes Greenwood,
Playwright and Author,
“Homo Domesticus: Notes from a Same-Sex Marriage”

When you woke up this morning, you knew your dads were married, but you also knew we weren’t married everywhere we went. You knew that we loved each other and that this was not enough to make us married in the whole United States. You knew we were not equal.

When I was your age, sweetheart, I dreamed of marrying a boy someday. But I knew that wasn’t allowed. When I told my grandmother, who loved me very much, that I liked boys, she washed my mouth out with soap and sent me to bed.

I wanted to marry a boy like me anyway. This was the 1970s, and there was no such thing then — not in my state or anywhere else — but I was undeterred. I drew pictures of weddings in my school notebook, and imagined the tux or the vest I’d wear. I didn’t talk about it because I was smart enough to realize it wouldn’t fly, but I knew.

You have grown up knowing that not everyone likes gay people like Daddy and me, but I haven’t told you what that cost me in the first 25 years of my life. You haven’t heard the stories about when my property was vandalized or when I endured prank phone calls, was followed and harassed, lost a job, was threatened with violence, and was, at times, rejected by members of my own family — all for being gay.

It’s hard for you to picture any of that, because in Massachusetts, where we live, same-sex marriage has been legal for as long as you can remember. You have seen only what being ourselves has brought us: a marriage that has lasted 20 years, a family with you as our gem, and the full embrace of so many people of every stripe who love us as we are.

You knew we had it good in our state, but that this was not true for all families like ours. Each time a new state celebrated marriage equality, we told you at the dinner table and you’d cheer, usually following that up with a dark look and a complaint about never wanting to be in the other states which hadn’t followed suit.

Today, I woke up thinking about the possible ruling of the Supreme Court, who you know about from discussing Civil Rights in school. I knew that they could decide to make marriage equality the law of the land, or that they could rule that it wasn’t our right. Watching the news for word of their decision was like being caught in the last few seconds of a breath I’ve held for 40 years.

This may surprise you, but I don’t believe all people should marry, or that marriage is somehow more important than the other great rights of our society. I do believe that to be excluded from any great right is to be excluded from full citizenship. And if we are, so are you, simply for being our child. Every day that our love and hard work was measured as less than the love and hard work of your friends’ parents, it was another day America devalued our family.

But today was not that day. This morning, the court agreed that two men or two women who love each other and wish to marry are simply asking “for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” And the verdict was ringing: “The Constitution grants them that right.” I cried at my desk when I saw the news.

I cried because we can finally embrace who we are and how we participate in society without the government telling us we can’t do both. No more losing our rights when we cross a border; no more asterisks or qualifications. Your dads are married in America.

When you go to bed tonight, you will live in a country that never existed before — not for your family. You’ll wake up in a new day and know we’re equal.

Keep the faith!
 – Amen



(credit: Huffington Post)