Gay Tolerance

guysgirlsSo what do you think about gayness and self-described gay individuals?

Am I already offending you and are your personal defenses already up with your moral bastions rigged and armed?

Here’s the thing and I can say this with much anecdotal experience and evidence – many in our younger generations see and have very little issue with homosexuality.  It seems many in younger generations have the idea that – basically – if two people care for or love each other regardless of their individual genders then what is the problem with two people getting together as intimate friends or marriage partners? And besides, they aren’t hurting anyone (which is its own discussion, of course) by publicly professing and demonstrating their love for each other so what is the big deal?

I am not going to defend or condemn homosexuality here or anywhere. I am way beyond the right and wrong of this thing. So far beyond… Frankly, the rightness and wrongness of homosexuality doesn’t concern me too much anymore. My motivation behind the way I choose to deal with this issue comes from my personal understanding and realization that I live in a real and tangible world where I work with, have worked with, have friends who are, have friends who have friends who are, and spend time in counseling and listening situations with people who all completely acknowledge and, likely, live a gay lifestyle.

So what I have asked myself many times over the years is – what am I going to do about whatever the problem is? Get angry, stand on a box and cast accusations, attempt to deprogram and convert gay people to another form of supposed normalcy, or what? What is my end game by casting aspersions at people or does my end game have a conscionable and morally honorable, decent, and true end? Which works better – bare-knuckling this issue or being patiently understanding? Honestly, I am more inclined to listen and converse and attempt to be a friend with anyone without harsh and unmerciful judgment, being prejudiced, or otherwise being meanly intolerant.

Here’s where I am at and have been for a long time. There are enough angry, thumping, “principled” people out there making various argument points about homosexuality (whether the points be correct or not). I’m not one of them. Rather, I choose to be a friend, I choose to take the time – as much as possible – to listen, and I choose to invest myself in either a straight or a gay person as long as our relationship can be as honest, open, respectable, and tolerant as possible.

That’s where I am.

(After initially writing this article, this came up in my news feed. It is worth the read.)

· 2 Comments. Posted in daily goings on.

Fire Confessional

2014-10-17 19.28.56It was a few evenings ago.  We sit by a comfortable fire together on a cool, fall evening. We’re situated around his fire pit out on the back side of his property. We are hidden by covering trees and heavy bushes so it is a nice, private place but what makes it really special is that it feels like we are sitting isolated out in the mountains somewhere and not in the middle of a busy subdivision. It’s a very unique spot.

We’ve done this, actually, on quite a few occasions through the years. It is something he and I try to do several times every fall. As time goes by and as our lives are further seasoned, I think we both relish the good times we spend together around the fire pit.

I take my lawn chair and a mug of chai over to his house. My friend sits in his chair or on a bench sipping his mug of coffee. His dog pads between us – back and forth – all evening for an occasional ear scratch or friendly tummy rub from each of us. As the dusk turns into a starlit night, we move closer to the crackling, warming fire. Our conversation becomes less animated and more intimate.

We talk about relationships, concerns, things that make us happy and sad, and hopes and dreams about the future. We wonder aloud why God does the things that he does and how we need to react to God’s direction and care. We are amazed at how God has set us down life-paths that we would never have imagined.

Our conversation is spotted with silence as much as it is populated with conversation. Our ideas and emotions need to be said – but felt, too. We are comfortable enough with each other that we don’t fear silence. Sometimes what needs to be said can best be said with silence.

The fire pit is our confessional. It is a safe place.

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Avoiding It

The holidays (and my anniversary) are coming up. This is not a particularly nice time of year for me – or at least it hasn’t been for the last two years. It’s not your problem and don’t worry about it but as much as I like the lights, colors, and sounds of Oct, Nov, and Dec, I kind of wish I could skip through to Jan 1. But, I know it is a special time for others so I wouldn’t deny them their enjoyment.

I’ve felt the last few months that I might decorate up and try to get into things this holiday season but I’ve about decided that it wouldn’t feel right yet so I think I’ll forgo the festivities again this year. I have some concert tickets that I will enjoy and a few other plans with some friends and family, but that will about be it.

I was at a restaurant yesterday with some friends. I knew the waitress and she knew me. Our group was rather large so the waitress was getting the bills organized and sorted and, somehow, I was the one she had missed in her head count. She, without thinking, looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re the one alone and by yourself.” As she said it, she knew what she had done (she knows my story) and she became pretty apologetic. Of course, it wasn’t a big deal but for a few moments there, and for her and me, it all came rolling back. We worked it out and things were fine but…

This is how it is now. I guess I prefer to continue to be an avoider.

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Thank You

mountainsFor friendship  For patience  For listening  For not judging  For telling it like it is  For caring  For pushing  For getting out of the way  For challenging  For laughing  For crying  For teasing  For touching  For hugging  For eating a meal  For drinking some coffee  For having a joke  For being spontaneous  For being honest  For having emotion  For being solid  For giving space  For pushing in  For your example  For getting my back  For giving direction  For adventures  For reading  For music  For texting  For being tolerant  For leading  For reaching  For empathizing  For coming along  For sharing  For needing me  For anticipating  For fixing it  For sitting  For recommending  For waiting  For nurturing  For making it not matter  For surprises  For reminiscing  For wondering  For questioning  For conversing  For trusting  For being along side  For the fire  For wanting to talk  For consistency  For consolation  For wisdom  For intelligence  For fun  For the cloudy days  For the sunny days  For advice  For keeping up  For taking charge  For saying it differently  For summing it up  For finishing it off  For getting it started  For mattering  For cooking it up  For good ideas  For being real  For relaxing  For compliments  For being crazy  For trying it once  For saying no  For saying yes  For explaining  For rolling your eyes  For teaching  For being a pal  For being a mentor  For backing off  For being in my face  For watching movies  For sarcasm  For being witty  For praying  For comforting  For loving

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Driving Home

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Old Vets

We-Honor-VeteransBig plans for Veteran’s Day in a few weeks. I was called up and will be working with hospice staff and chaplains at two of our local facilities – one in the morning and one in the afternoon – to “pin veterans.” This is part of a national effort called We Honor Veterans. Our hospice coordinates pinning at many local facilities with our staff on Veteran’s Day and it’s neat to help out.

I did this last year and it was nice for the patients – many of who, sadly, don’t remember their service. But it’s okay. We have some nice pins to stick on their lapels and and we’re able to serve some drink and punch. Usually the vets are all brought into a common area where we call out their names, tell the service they served in and the years of their service, and thank them for their service. We then walk over to each person, shake their hand, pin their ribbon – and give them their cake.

Lots of good war stories from some of the people. These are WWII and Korean vets, of course, but last year, there was a Viet Nam vet, too. And there was one interesting person – he was a vet of both the Army and Navy. Not sure how he did that but he was proud of both and had stories from both.

And of course, the old Marines are all ooo-rah the whole time. They are funny.

Some of the patients are unable to make it to the common area so we visit them in their rooms. I remember one gentleman who was asleep – not to wake up – but we pinned his pillow and thanked him. Stuff like that is special to me.

They are all good people and I am glad we can spend a few minutes with them. I look forward to Nov 11.

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Cleansing Dirt

MushAs I write this, I am grimy, sweaty, and mostly filthy. Want to come join me? Figured not. No one does. Oh well. Thought I would ask.

Of all the things to cleanse the soul, though, dirt is the best. It’s about the most honest remedy for fixing a hurt, smoothing over difficulties, and making things feel not quite as bad as they seem to be. Mix in some sweat and aching muscles and now you have a cocktail that heals almost anything. The perfect solution. The absolute pill. The best remedy.

Hard, honest work is what can keep a person headed in the right direction. Lazing around, nomming on frou-frou delicacies, being glued to a TV or phone screen, and interacting with the world in 140 or 160 bursts of words is a recipe for physical, mental, and spiritual disaster.

I think it has something to do with focus. Working requires focus – all your senses work together to accomplish something. Hands, eyes, brain, ears, breath, and everything else is working together to make it happen. There’s unison, harmony, and rhythm. It works and feels good when it is over – something has been accomplished.

On the other hand, sitting around is all about not having any focus. Eat this, think that, text this, feel that, watch this, listen to that, and so forth. Bumming around certainly doesn’t take any physical effort so your body is being wasted. Thinking isn’t required. Some call it multitasking – I call it being a mushroom.

Liven up! Instead of wallowing in your pity and angst, try putting on some healing dirt and sweat.

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Winterized Gardens

I prepared our box gardens for winter yesterday. In the process, I harvested what little we were able to produce. I’m glad that my garden survived – somehow.

Lessons Learned

1. Deer are ravenous around fresh gardens. Our gardens that didn’t have deer nets were destroyed by the friendly but pesky neighborhood deer.
2. Half way through the summer, our water source failed. Unfortunately, melons and tomatoes really need water to survive. Didn’t happen this year.
3. Probably the biggest thing (we knew this going in) is that we planted around Jun 1 instead of around Apr 1. With this, we lost two months of vital growing time. This being the case, the melons and tomatoes that did survive the deer and lack of water were quite small and didn’t get the time they needed to mature. They looked good but were just real small.
4. The square gardens didn’t need much attention. What a benefit. Some occasional TLC was all they needed.

I hope to make the gardens next year and will definitely protect from deer, make sure the water supply is reliable, and plant early. Thanks to all the other gardeners and hands that made this interesting, fun, and very much a learning experience this year. We will do much better next year.

(Click on the photos to enlarge.)

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New Opportunities

newopSitting recently with a friend and hearing things that would shock most people, I struggle with what to say and do. It’s easy for me to give advice – which I don’t do very often now anyway – but I’d rather listen. The problem is that advice doesn’t fix deep, serious, systemic problems in a person and most of my advice has gone out the window anyway. Instead and over some coffee and eggs, I listen and wonder and pray and listen some more. How can things get this hard for my friend? Why have people abandoned my friend? Why isn’t there a community of people my friend can identify with to find some comfort and understanding? How come it hurts so bad that even the tears have dried up?

As I sit and write this, I wonder what is going to happen. I’m glad we were able to talk for a long time but I am also at an end to figure out how to help. This is deep, dark, and difficult stuff that sources from multiple places – physical, spiritual, mental, relational, sexual, psychological.

My point in mentioning this is that I have been getting into these kinds of conversations lately with different and separate people in unexpected ways. In feeling helpless, I am also taken that I am somehow being given opportunities in confidences with things that I would have thought unimaginable a few years ago. It is daunting but also something that I now am more than willing to deal with.

I feel like a little dog paddling in an ocean.

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It Hurts

changeThank you, Rob, for your words yesterday from the Book of Job. And I 100%, unequivocally, absolutely, and emphatically agree with your thoughts on dealing with grief. Fact is, and as you said, hurt is hurt and there are not words or actions that will ever adequately fill the void left by loss. Even faith and Scripture doesn’t fix things, as some would like to think and often attempt to patronizingly and pedantically vocalize. Rather, these things are meaningful and healthy methods given to us by God that can and should be used to help us cope with wounds over time. Understand, however, that pain and scars will never go away completely, fully, and totally in this life as if they had never existed.

Because of your words, several people spoke with me yesterday about dealing with grief. One individual observed with me that we like to talk about, prepare, discuss ad nauseam (his words) and have parties for babies but we go out of our way to not discuss the process of dying and death.  I assured him that having babies is a fine thing and that we shouldn’t be too hard on anyone but, yes, we view the transition from eternity into life as a time of human celebration but we view the transition from human life back into eternity as a time of human loss. But then, it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? We like it here (it’s okay – it’s nice here!) so coming in is a good thing but we sure get hung up on leaving, don’t we?

In times of grief, there is nothing better a caregiver can do than to listen (if anything is even being said) and be present. After awhile, something will need to be discussed but dying is one ailment that does not have a quick-fix in this life so it takes time to process. Death should be grieved because it is a curse, it hurts, and it destroys. Death – in any way one tries to spin it – is a horrible thing.

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