A Love Triangle that Always Works

The Pastoral Care Ministry Team and I spent some time last evening talking about a “ménage à trois.”

Oh, not exactly the usual sense of that term, but still a “love triangle.” That is, we explored what it means, when we engage in caring for another person, that God is present with us and the person for whom we are offering care: care giver, care receiver, and God.

Later, as I sat with Jonathan reviewing our respective days, it occurred to me that God was present in our family room. “We are not alone here,” I thought. Of course, Cocoa was nearby, too, but for a moment or two I really felt God’s presence.

It was just an ordinary evening in our home, nothing particularly dramatic or difficult–both of us tired from long days, but still feeling blessed to be together.

What would it be like if I recognized God’s presence in each encounter of every day? Would not I be more at peace? Would I not see divine qualities in the other people that I never noticed before?

And what if we each did this, and it spread beyond us to others? Might there be more peace, more joy, more trust, more love,  in the world?

A New Kind of Holy Object?

Recently, I stopped wearing my distinctive, long,  dangling earrings.

The transition was not difficult, but I knew I did not want to let the holes in my ears fill back in from lack of use. So I began trying to remember to wear them once in a while.

Then, during a meeting with my spiritual director, we discussed prayer beads and other aids to prayer. Later, I wondered, “Could my earrings be used like prayer beads?”

So I tried it. It was great. I have always felt inspired by God to wear showy earrings. Here I was, wearing them during my most intimate time with God!

But sometimes I would forget to put on a pair before praying. I didn’t like getting up to go back to the bedroom, especially in the morning when I might disturb Jonathan, to get them.

Then, more inspiration. If they are prayer earrings, then why not keep them in my study, by my prayer desk, near the cross on the wall and other religious items? So, I moved them, holy objects that they are, to my home prayer space, still on the ingenuous frame my daughters made for me years ago (see picture).

What joy, each time I pray, to choose which pair to wear! God and I have some fun with that.

Let Us Prove God Right

It was a sad day nine years ago. A day that caused anger in many of us. A day borne of anger in others.

Today is a day to reflect–how can life we different? How can we reduce the anger, the hatred, the violence?

There is wisdom in what Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote many years ago.

I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and a willingness to remain vulnerable.

Truly faithful people, whatever we call our God and striving to live the truth we proclaim, do not seek to increase suffering. There is enough already. Our task is to alleviate suffering, helping to create peace and love and joy.

God believes we are up to the task. Let us prove God right.

L’ Shanah Tovah — Happy New Year!

Last night was very special for me. It was erev Rosh Hashana (meaning the beginning of the Jewish New Year) and I served as a reader in the service at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center held by Congregation Or Ami.

Me, a goy, reading moving words about the meaning of this time in the lives of faithful Jewish people. And– this is very important, too–I was doing so with my husband, Jonathan. We were recognized as a couple, he a Jew and a member of the temple and me his non-Jewish partner who goes with him to sabbath worship–a gay, inter-religious couple.

As the liturgist had arranged it, it fell to me to recite the horrors that have been done to Jewish people over the millennia–progroms, discrimination, annihilation–and for the congregation to respond, “We, we Jews, have survived.”

As I spoke and they responded, I thought of how the horrors go on–against Jews still (Holocaust deniers preach hate), and Muslims (a pastor says he will burn the Qu’ran), and women (an Iranian women stoned to death), and LGBT people (violence against us increases), and others, too–and how always our call from God is to survive, with our dignity, our human dignity, intact.

And I thought: we do that by connecting with each other, seeing the God that resides in each of us, participating in each other’s religious rites, knowing that all–all–are beloved of God.

We (insert name here) survive–because God creates us to do so. Happy New Year! L’ Shanah Tovah!

Trust the Flashlight

Cocoa and I walked in the dark this morning–a power outage on most of our regular early route made using a flashlight a must.

As we walked, I thanked God for life, for the beauty of the trees against the dark grey sky, for the smooth pavement on which we walked, and for many more personal things. I also thanked God for showing us the way–not just on our morning walk but through life.

The saying, “God makes a way out of no way,” is true. When we cannot see the way ahead, God is there showing us the way.

We are in a time when many people seem to have lost their way.  A pastor–a pastor!–in Florida plans to burn a copy of the Quran. National leaders, who should know better, play on fear to stir up hatred of Islam.

It would be easy to be discouraged–in fact, at moments, I have felt that way. But then I remember God’s presence. I remember that Cocoa and I had a guide–not just my flashlight, but God calling us forward as Jesus walked beside us and the Holy Spirit provided power to take the steps.

Indeed, God is our divine flashlight, helping us see into, through, and beyond the dark.

God Made a Good Person

I keep coming out.

Oh, I came out as a gay man 28 years ago. I still come out to folks that way when it seems right and necessary (most of the time they guess, because without even meaning to, I provide clues).

No, I mean, coming out as myself–or maybe a better way to put is to say that I am coming home to myself, or coming into my own. Being gay is part of it, an important part, but there is more to me than that.

For example, I am, in part, what I eat.

So I have made a commitment to improve my eating habits: no more sugary desserts. I mean NO pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream, etc. Don’t get me wrong. I love that stuff. But I don’t know how to eat it in moderation, especially when I feel stressed or under-appreciated. I use it for comfort.

Simply "divine" desserts

But when I seek the comfort of God instead, and the comfort of Jonathan and my friends and my dog, I actually feel better, longer. And those connections don’t add to my weight, or put me on the road to diabetes.

Imagine . . . I don’t need sugar to feel better.

I have known this for a long time, and have even sworn off dessert before. Then I relapsed. I may again.

But today, I am clear: I like myself without the distortion of sugar. God made a good person when I was created. I don’t need the dessert drug to make me better.

And that is a coming out for me.

Peace Is the Language of God

Today, yet again, the leader of Israel and the leader of the Palestinian Authority meet to try to talk peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

The world is skeptical that anything will come of it.

And yet, is it not time for peace? Is it not always time for peace–or at least to stop senseless violence that destroys dreams, maims and kills children (both body and spirit), and leaves untold hardship in its wake?

These two men, and their allies, are learning to speak a new language–the language of peace–which is, at the same time,their native tongue, because it is the language with which they were born. Peace is the language of God.

Palestinian Authority President Abbas

This is not some distant event, not involving us. Indeed, their efforts will not succeed without us.We pray today for them, pray for them to let the God of their understandings guide them to a different conclusion than the other times. We pray for them to put aside the grievances of the past and present, to see a different future, where lives bloom and peoples thrive, side by side.

Let us pray today, and every day, that their tongues may become untwisted from the impediments of war and animosity, and begin to speak the simple, powerful, life-giving truth of peace.