Friday, November 21, 2014

You can learn, you know.
You can learn to be clean and well groomed.
You can learn to use impeccable diction, to write cogent and well constructed sentences and paragraphs and stories.
You can learn to be still and to hear the sweet still voice of the Spirit that flows in and through all.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Almost Boyfriend. Part 1.

The almost boyfriend referred to above is exactly that. He is a boy that I love, but whom I've never officially called my boyfriend. One of the main reasons we've never been officially together is this disorder. When we first met he was out but discreet, and I was completely closeted. I was also the school's student pastor (It was a church school), so I also had a ministry that I was completely and utterly devoted to, that I refused to jeopardize because I admitted to being gay. I was 2 years older than him in High School and he wasn't my type really, so beyond asking him how his day was going, we really didn't interact much. I caught his eye, though.

When I graduated from High school, it wasn't very likely that we'd ever meet. We weren't friends, and I was still closeted to everyone but myself. And I was still opposed to gay relationships on top of that so...
But life is very mysterious. A religion teacher form my high-school decided to take some of her former and current students to a biannual life-improvement seminar called foundations. I hate this kind of stuff, so I held her off for a while. But eventually she wore me down and I went to the biannual conference. On the second trip, this guy was there. And by paying close attention to certain details (listening to Britney Spears as we sat next to each other on the plane, mooning at guys in a GQ magazine he'd brought with him), I came to the conclusion he too was gay.
I had just told someone I was gay for the first time 6 months before (November 3, 2009), and I was desperate to find someone I could talk to about this whole gay thing. I was still against gay relationships at this time and still pretty conservative, but I needed someone. And I only knew one person who was openly gay so....

We met at a restaurant and when I told him he literally started shaking, he was so nervous and blown away. I was pretty calm, in the sense that a political prisoner is calm on his way to the gallows, which was what telling people I was gay was like for me in those days.
I thought I was just making contact with the gay world at that meeting. I didn't know he had a crush on me. And i certainly didn't have a crush on him. But I needed a gay friend. And thus the strange relationship began.
We talked about boys, about God (he a recent atheist, I a devout Christian) about the morality of being gay. He flirted with me incessantly. I always turned him down. He was bubbly, bright and full of energy. Much braver than I was. Though he did have some dark parts. Once I saw that he had a band-aid over his wrist. I asked him what happened and he said he'd cut himself. I didn't know what to do, I probably said something uneducated, I don't remember now. But it scared me a lot that such a normal kid (from my perspective) could be hiding such inner turmoil.

We met on and off regularly for a year. And then, a month before his graduation from High School, at the end of my Sophomore Year of College, I told him that we couldn't hang out anymore. His flirting had become more insistent, and I was becoming more irritated with it. So I told him it wouldn't work out. I wasn't OK with gay relationships, so it would probably be best to just stop hanging out for a while. He took it like a champ in front of me, though he was probably dying a little inside. I was completely oblivious of course, just relieved that the strange pressures of temptation to experiment with the forbidden would finally be over. I stopped taking his phone calls. The next month I went on a "mission trip" to Lebanon with a tour of Syria, and he graduated from high school. I came back just before graduation, but I was too much of a coward to see him march down the aisle. Shortly afterwords, he left town to pursue his college experience elsewhere.

The day that we...stopped hanging out, I went home with a feeling of relief. But when I got home I couldn't stop thinking about him. His eyes, his voice, his smile. I couldn't eat that day, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't concentrate. And for the first time I realized that all those sad love songs weren't exaggerations. I had a crush on this beautiful boy. Bad. And I didn't realize it fully until after I had said I didn't want to be with him so he should stop trying. I should have gotten up and called him right then and there, but I was still so convinced that gay love was ultimately disordered and destructive. And so damn prideful and stoic. The only thing I took from that experience at the time was that gay people and straight people really did have the same feelings. Which was pretty significant in and of itself.

And this is where our story should have ended. But of course it didn't.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Psalm 151, a spoken word poem. By Zachary Page.

extend your ear, Mother of the circle, of all creation
behold your peculiar people, now talking madly around your blessed revelation
how immaculate our process, how simple how, pure
if only, yes then, wait minute that, are you sure?
that this is what you intended when you sent your Spirit out?
some days I’m just not so sure what it’s all about
see how we go along, picking and choosing with such care
but consider the cross, the prison cell, is this not our history to share?
Peace-check, Simplicity-yes, well relatively, Integrity-sounds good to me
but when does all this just shroud us in the blanket of liberal complacency
all of this sounds good on paper, so lets minute that:umpteen dash one
what else could we do, well out of time today, let’s be silent now we’re done
and yes quiet is good sometime, but so is preaching from the trees
forgive me if all this minuting seems a little like a tease
what do we have left if we lose our tongue to preach?
look out-it’s First Day School, these beautiful young faces and us with little to teach
maybe we could begin by speaking of the living water that springs from a rock
but if we did that, we might have to relinquish a worship style governed         by a clock
our young people may well demand some changes to our style and pace
perhaps more dangerously, they often call us to be faithful, face to face
is this why we separate ourselves, telling them that they’re not ready? better to keep them out if we hope to keep this little boat steady
and I keep thinking about that boat and this here storming
all these wars and injustices swarming
and there He comes, walking out across the water, the raging storm all around
but we look away, hoping for something that makes sense by way of dry
surrounded now we try desperately to cover our head
but He calls out: get up and get out of this boat, leave your fear and              dread
He called then, as he calls now:step away from the boat
then again, perhaps He’d understand our position better if we minuted
that we can’t float
it’s just to much to take in, that she will provide, 
so we just keep to the clock, and keep on sitting side by side
but I kept on reading, this time skipping a few chapters back
and here’s another story of God’s people complaining of what they lack
a captured people scared to be faithful, the story reads the same
then and now, Pharaoh’s slaves-frightened divided and tame
but the message is clear-She will give us the manna we need
plenty to go around, if we choose this feed
but how would we know, that yes, now we had enough
when all our consideration revolves around our stuff
locked into that liberal narrative that says you can straddle both sides of       the line
loving your brothers and sisters on one side, and on the other keeping        all that is mine
you could look at all this and say it is our luxury or privilege to choose
or you could see that it is those with everything that have everything to lose
this is the eye of the needle standing before us
and from every corner, the rebellious house sings its chorus
ino our language, our mind-think, our TV
"not now, not this, not me"
but the blood is on our hands-this is our stain
you cannot be neutral on a moving train
but oh, when we hop off-the possibilities we might see
perhaps then we would hear the Truth in Her child’s decree
no longer are you servants, passive and incomplete
now called Friends, from this moment, from this seat
stand up, quake as you rise
the Power lies inside of you, Love is the prize
bearing, believing, hoping, enduring-all
this is the still, small voice of Her child’s call
so stand out, speak up, stepp off the curb
away from the way of life that has built ‘burb after ‘burb
let us begin as that change without the burden of guilt or doubt
she is calling to us again, Pharaoh’s slaves-exodus out!
out into the desert, out into her care
faith is a choice and I for one am dog-tired of despair
so I pray
here I am Lord, there are some of us yet, willing to risk it all, to suffer,             and take a chance
willing to hear, willing to be transformed, willing to do the time, willing
       to advance
in the name of the Covenant, in the name of the Beloved Community, in your blessed name, 
these feet were made for walking, get up and walk, cured by Truth,                behold the lame,
how freed from Cain’s mark, released from our task of domination and toil,
the desert may bloom, a new harvest bursting forth from rich soil.
I raise this prayer up to God and up through each of you
it is up to us now, in our hands to know what to do
Jesus dared to call us his Friends in John’s gospel 15:15
will we take this opportunity and be baptized in the prophetic stream?
the servant pleads “not now, not this, not me”
but we’re Friends, now and forever-let’s get free!