Monthly Archives: August 2009

Sifting

Every day, in every way that I conduct my moments of my life, I am learning.  In this moment, right now, I am already a different person than I was yesterday, different than I was this morning, even from dinnertime two hours ago.

 

For in each moment………this one…….

 

and this one…………………

 

and in this one as well, there is change happening, and lessons being put forth for us.

 

There are times when we don’t see the lessons in front of us.  They may be there, bold as brass, but we don’t yet have the sight to be aware.  Maybe for us, it isn’t that time for the lesson.  Maybe, it hurts too much to acknowledge the need to learn it.  Maybe, just maybe, and probably very likely, fear is at the root of all of those lessons that we don’t believe that we are quite ready for.

 

For the past several days, I have been acutely aware of big lessons coming my way.  There has been a series of circumstances in my life for the last week; none of them tragic or devastating by definition, but possibly life changing in terms of the decisions that I am faced with as a result.

 

And, at the time of these lessons coming to light initially, I thought that I MIGHT be ready to face them head on, but today, in this moment, I KNOW that I am ready.

 

So, I have begun to sift, sift through the sands of my life, the particles that need to be left behind, and the larger, bigger aspects that need to be carried along in my pockets.

 

I am reminded of playing on the beach, as an older child, when we finally made it to the ocean, and as a parent of a child, and using a sifter on the beach, to sift through the beach sand as we built castles or waited for the waves to brush us on the shore.  That sifter would let all of the driest, smallest grains of sand fall through, and leave behind any treasures that were buried on the beach.  A perfect shell.  A little creature.  A piece of sea glass.

 

The pieces that we leave behind, those small grains that are all along the shores of our lives, they don’t just go away as we sift through them; they return to the earth, return to the Universe, to serve a purpose for someone else that will walk this same beach path after us, or with us.  Those grains of sands stick to our feet, they wash out into the sea, and they come back again.  They are perpetually around, but we are okay without carrying them with us.  Yet, the memory of those grains stays with us forever, because we did sift through and decide what we still needed with us, and what we could leave behind.

 

The lessons along the way, the people that I meet, the friends that I encounter, they all become part of my full story.  Even if we lose touch, if we go into different directions, they are part of me, one of my lessons, part of my story, as I am part of theirs.  I am not the same person as I was when we first met, yet I am who I am, in part because of them.  And, for that I have eternal gratitude. 


And, those lives that have touched mine, those lessons that have found their way to me, those grains of sand, may no longer be on my path, or may have washed away from the shore, but the presence,

 

and presents,

 

that they brought to my life will remain forever with me.

 

Nothing personal…….

I feel so secure and confident about so many things; my work that I do, the relationship that I have with my partner and our daughter, my education and training.  Yet, nothing can bring me to my knees more quickly than a person either being rude or unkind to me, or someone who ignores me.

 

I have written on this before here, probably a few times.  And, the lesson is again appearing in my life, I guess because it has yet to be worked through fully for me.  It is the famous, “Nothing personal, I just need to do this”; “Don’t take things personally”; “This isn’t about you”. 

 

I guess that whole it’s nothing personal thing may be true, but the thing is, it FEELS personal.  It hurts.  It shocks.  It surprises even when I think I have gotten to be more effective at seeing the signals.  There are two main ways it is showing itself in the present day, and it has kept me reeling for now close to a week.

 

When I become friends with someone, whether in 3D, or over the web, that is for keeps.  I tell about myself, I ask about the other person, we laugh and cry and connect on many levels.


Then, the deep silence comes, with many of them.  They stop writing, stop calling, stop being present in my life. 

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?  Readers, I am not asking you to answer that for me, I think that I know.  Something that is going on with that person calls them in another direction.  Something personal to them, not about me, takes their attention.  Enough of their attention that they either can’t, or don’t want to, focus attention on our friendship for a period of time. 

 

Well, I can understand each of us needing to take care of ourselves, and our needs, and attending to new adventures or challenges or tragedies.  But, I am here, I am your friend.  I miss you.

 

It hurts.

 

Then, there is the circumstance of having a friendship with someone, who I don’t expect I won’t ever have conflict with, but when the conflicts happen, they seem to go on and on, even when I express myself clearly, even when I apologize where I have fallen short, and when I try to take the high road, be the bigger person, I am constantly stunned at the low to which this friend can take it.  Hurtful, old resentments surface toward me, and I am surprised every time. 

 

The only difference is, that it hurts less, because I can put what is the other person’s shit in their corner.  And, just take care of my own.  But, it is disappointing.  And frustrating. 

 

Yet two more incidences in the world of human relationships, where the resistance to communicate truthfully and openly with one another creates harm to the relationship. 

 

When I talk with persons about Choice Theory, and the fact that all of us are each trying to meet our needs for love and belonging, fun, freedom, power and survival, one of the main premises that I talk about is:  Is what you are doing in your relationships with others bringing you closer together, or further apart?  Accountability.  We all have it.  We all need to hold ourselves to it.

 

When a person tells me it isn’t personal, I know that is not true.  I know that it is that much more personal, but maybe the reasons are too deep, too painful to acknowledge.  I love my friends, I am loyal to them and will do what  I can to support them.  But, I also know that what I want and need is important, first and foremost, and if those that I care about cannot respect me enough to be truthful, and fair and just, and still show love, then I need to exert less energy and effort there, until their willingness becomes a capacity for love and mutual respect. 

 

Because my friends, the personal IS personal.  True that.

I am not a sinner.

 

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I may be many different things:  unique, emotional, impulsive, tender, assertive.  But I am no sinner.  

 

I know that may strike some readers, those that are not accustomed to visiting here, as offensive and against God.  If so, and if you don’t care to look at it a bit differently, then you probably should not read past this sentence.  If you have any notion of opening up your thinking a bit, or know where I am going with this, by all means, read on. 

 

I believe in God, I believe in Jesus and his teachings, and that the Universe is powerful, but good.  I also believe that people are inherently good, and that life often creates scenarios where they take bad turns.  I don’t believe in evil, and I don’t believe that people are born, bad.

 

I also don’t believe, no wait, let me rephrase:  I KNOW that I am not a sinner, especially not one because I am gay.  NO WAY.  I am not real knowledgable in the concept of sin through organized religion, but even if I were, I don’t know that I would believe that it was anything except a creation of manmade religion in order to keep people in line.  However, if I DID believe in it, I would not believe that homosexuality in and of itself was sinful. 

 

Why?  Because, a person being who it is they are born as does not make one a sinner.  I was born gay, I am pretty sure of that.  I would not actively choose this, I am just about certain, because the road is really difficult and challenging.  However, I was born good, and part of my identity that came with my delivery was my sexual orientation.  Therefore, it is not sinful.

 

Now, if I did believe in sin, there may be some level of debate I would be willing to participate in regarding sexual activity outside of a committed relationship.  However, I don’t believe in sin.  What I DO believe in, is that we all  make poor choices in our lives.  I don’t think that anyone around can say that they have never made a poor choice of one kind or another; a choice that hurt themselves, or someone else.  However, we all have the capacity for growth and change.  So, if I do something that hurts another person, I can always make amends and change my behavior for the future.

 

And, being gay for me is not a behavior, or a choice, or a lifestyle.  I am being who I was born to be.  I am being who God created me to be.  Again, God created me in His image.  Gayness and all. 

 

I don’t want to argue with those who are of religious minds and feel that what I say about this is totally wrong and against God and the Bible.  Sure, I am willing to listen, but I will not tolerate being ridiculed or condemned.  I will listen as long as I am also listened to.  I mean, respect has to be mutual, or it isn’t true respect.

 

I am hungry for dialogue.  I have come to feel a calm resolve in the fact that the difficult conversations are only difficult if we don’t allow both sides to participate.  Sure, they are uncomfortable, but we all can survive them.  People disagree, but in the end, we can still have respect and admiration for one another.  At least in my world they can.

 

And, in my mind, Jesus would have his arms wrapped lovingly around me, just for being who I am.

Faith, organized religion and community

 

So, I am having what you could call a crisis of faith, I suppose.  A period of time when what I had previously found through my church no longer seems apparent, and I am facing a decision about what to do next.

 

Organized religion and I don’t have the easiest of histories.  As a child, my parents raised us as Roman Catholic, and although we did not attend weekly services on any consistent basis, we went for the high holy days.  I prayed and confessed and received communion as any good Catholic should do.  I felt a presence while in the church, presumably of God, and was always inspired by that even as a teen.  However, I never felt part of that church community; maybe due to the size, maybe due to the fact that we didn’t consistently attend, I am not sure.

 

Fast forward to 1980; I interview and am accepted to a Catholic college in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Although the biggest reason that I chose that college was for the campus, and the academics, the fact that there was a strong faith base there would come to impact me in major ways.  In my freshman year, I went to some of the services.  I sang in the folk group for a period of time.  And, for a few short weeks, I entertained the notion of becoming a nun.  But, the biggest impact that the college had on me in terms of faith, was in strengthening my own inner faith in ways that I chose to express.  So, even if I didn’t attend church weekly, I visited the chapel on a consistent basis, even in the middle of the night, when I needed to find safety and support, and the prayers that came were deep and meaningful.  I asked questions about life and death and faith, which helped to guide my path.

 

After college, I left organized religion for a very long time.  To me, church was not where I needed to be in order to feel close to God.  So, I prayed on my own, I found my solitude and reflection by streams and in the woods.  I had also come out as a lesbian, and knew that the church would not fully support me in that.  I stayed away for a long time.  However, my faith in a power greater than myself, and my gratitude and appreciation for the blessings in my life was constant.

 

Then, we had our family.  I met the love of my life, and we had a child.  And, after a few years went by, of both of us struggling with organized religion, we wanted to try to find a church where we could feel accepted as a family, and also, get some religious education for our daughter, so she could have an informed future to make her own religious decisions.  We found that church in our town.

 

That was five years ago.  We had her baptized in that church, and we officially joined it.  The pastor openly embraced us, and led us through the complex road of religion, faith and being part of a community.  We felt accepted by the church members and welcomed by many.  Then, that all seemed to change.  About a year ago, our pastor was moved, and we got a new pastor in our congregation. 

 

The tone shifted.  Although we as a family wanted to give this new pastor a chance, and try not to actively compare the two, the new pastor was drastically different.  Not as connected.  Keeping his attitudes and feelings close to the vest.  Frankly, we didn’t know where he stood on many issues.  At the same time, I came out publicly and openly in our church about my sexual orientation and our family, as a way to educate and grow our congregation.  Although many persons in our church were willing to dialogue and open up their minds, many others choose to ignore the words, and do not want to view the issue of homosexuality and the church in any different way.  And, our pastor won’t openly speak about it at all, whether he supports or has concerns about it.  The membership has dwindled.  The feeling of community, for us, is gone.  I am the education director, I teach Sunday school there, I coordinate Vacation Bible School, and yet, I feel hollow and empty.

 

For us, church has once again become about organized religion, and not about community.  So, the crossroads we find ourselves at is:  stay and advocate and educate, in the hopes that we can open minds, hearts and doors.  Or, save ourselves further heartache and disappointment, and find another church that is open and accepting, AND wants to and invites the dialogue.  To me, that shouldn’t be something that is on a wish list, but something that every church, temple and synagogue, everywhere, needs to talk about to truly do the work of God.

 

To truly be called the faithful.

Transforming a wall into a bridge

As I change my thinking about my life, my dreams, my goals, and what I want for myself and my family, I start to see the connections in all of the things that I do, and my deepest held beliefs.  I see how everything that I think, do, choose, and feel,  are all connected to one another.  That it is all part of the same intricate pattern that makes up the quilt that is my life.  As pieces, they all look unique and different, but when seen as a whole, they make sense.  They fit together.

 

As I envision more and more clearly my goal of writing and training as a career, as a life goal, I have been thinking about the deeper meaning behind why I want to do this.  Sure, it will be work, but what is it about that type of work, that type of use of my time, that I am drawn to?  What is it that I am seeking through these activities?  What am I hoping to accomplish by teaching, talking, and writing to others about various aspects of life?

 

Well, as with almost every type of work that I have desired to do in the past, I want to be able to help others.  To assist them with something that they need.  However, it seems like there is more to it for me with this life choice than that.  I don’t want to just help others; I want to teach others, as I learn about myself, how to help themselves.  How to find the light and strength within themselves to set out on their own paths, how to discover their own destiny.  To really live their lives, and learn to fall in love with themselves, and rock their own purpose. 

 

So, by rocking my purpose, by telling others about how awesomely I view myself, it can reflect to others and assist them in how they can best learn to love themselves. 


What I seek to do, is transform a wall into a bridge.  Take the materials that have blocked a person off from themselves, and others, and recycle those barriers into bridges of understanding.

 

I first thought of this concept a few weeks ago, as myself and our training team was talking about how to engage doctors in the process of mental health recovery, and the fact that it is about so much more than just psychiatric medication; that it is also about a person getting a life, and taking full and effective control of that life.  How, as trainers and champions, we needed to create an understanding with those doctors so that they might view it all a bit differently.

 

In other words, transform a wall into a bridge.

 

Sure, we could approach this project, or anything in life, from the perspective of “I’m right, you’re wrong”; we could make the other person bad, and ourselves good.  But, what that does, is destroys any possible relationship, or an already existent relationship.

 

Instead, approaching it from a place of mutual understanding, active listening, and the realization that change takes time, but is necessary; a true dialogue- that is when real change happens.

 

So, I don’t just want to help others; I don’t want to just throw information at them.

 

I want bigger than that……..

 

I want to change the world; it needs some redecorating. 

 

There are far too many walls, and not enough bridges.

 

I better get busy…………………………………………………