Yesterday, Tuesday 9/16, as we left Abilene State Park and headed north, we literally took the road less traveled. The marvels of the GPS and GoogleMaps are not lost on us as we use both as needed while on the road. We find the GPS helpful in getting from point A to point B. Once in a given area we resort to GoogleMaps, mostly me, as I tend to be the “navigator,” to actually see the map of the area and the street layout. At any rate, with both devices on and laying out a course for the day, they were “at odds.” We opted for the GPS version and headed out on what seemed the most logical and straight line of direction. I realized that the other route, though longer and more circuitous , followed the better main highway. But, the die was cast, and we went via Highways 89 and 126.
As went the road became a bit narrower and, thankfully, still paved and wide enough to accommodate two lanes of traffic with absolutely no shoulder. It would have been a thoroughly modern highway in the 1950’s. At times it felt as if we were riding a bucking bronc. Of course, pulling the travel trailer accentuates the bucking motion! Did I mention the curves? Fairly frequently the road made 90 degree curves — first to the left and then back to the right. Between those we stayed alert to the “S” highway markers. This continued for miles. When not watching the road, I was able to enjoy the country side. Lou Anne was driving. She is a “confident” driver, and I have the utmost of confidence in her driving.
Initially the landscape was washed and gullied and covered with scrub brush and miniature (by East Texas standards), gnarled oak trees. Gradually, the land began to flatten and precise rows of cotton and grains whizzed by us. Then we were into another type of farm — a wind farm. Huge wind turbines dotted the land as far as we could see. The winding road brought us “up close and personal” to the giant windmills of technology. Oh, and beneath the gleaming white of the turning windmills, the green of the cotton fields was broken by the black pumpjacks of the oil wells. rhythmically moving down and up — down to bring the black crude up. All and all, it was a conglomerate of motion — straight line, round and round, and up and down!
As I thought about all that I was seeing, I was struck with just how incredible our earth is! Within this small area the land is providing, at the very least, raw products for food and clothing. The wind is generating power for all sorts of purposes, and oil used in products to numerous to mention is being pumped from beneath the earth’s surface. Incredible indeed! Can we not say that we do live in the Garden! Regardless of one’s beliefs, thoughts, or opinions about the various creation theories — and there happens to be at least ten of them — I, for one, am of the opinion that there was, and IS, an intelligent, creative Higher Power behind it all — be it Big Bang, Creationism, Intelligent Design, etc. Again, JUST MY THOUGHTS! PS
Note: We are traveling. So here are my thoughts and travelog!
We are in Abilene State Park. As we have traveled today I have been overwhelmed with the knowledge and feeling that I am extremely blessed. After months of planning and preparations, we are finally on the road. Six weeks of touring in Arizona mostly — seeing some of the sights and speaking at PFLAG — Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — as well as other gatherings. We kept looking at each other and saying, “We are actually on the road and going!”
Being humbled with gratitude leads me to an attitude of prayer. Amidst the gratitude today, I found myself “voicing” prayers in my heart. We had voiced a spoken prayer this morning before leaving, thanking God for this opportunity to travel and speak and asking His blessings and safety in our travels.
Oh, my goodness! Three deer- a doe, a young fawn, and a spike buck have walked up throught the woods and are grazing about twenty yards from where I sit. Thank you, God! Oh, that we might be more atune and thankful for the moments of awe and wonder that come our way at unexpected times and places. We had an armadillo join us for dinner earlier. Certainly not as graceful and lovely a creature as the deer, but one of God’s creatures none the less. We also had several squirrels scampering from tree to tree. Now as the dusk deepens there is a chorus of cicadas in the air. Moments of Wonder and Awe! I am thankful!
Now, back to the discussion of gratitude prior to the arrival of the deer. There was a time today in my thankfulness that this thought fluttered across my consciousness, “Maybe God will bless us on this trip because I am grateful and praying?” I am appalled at times by the thoughts that sometimes flutter across my mind! And this was just such a thought and time. I believe and know that there is neither bargaining nor negotiating with God. God blesses me, all of us, in His wisdom and mercy when and how He sees fit. I am thankful for those blessings. Period! And when life is rolling along and things do not seem so blessed, I will be thankful IN, not for all things. I believe that concept is expressed in I Thessalonians 5:18.
This reminds me of something that I learned many years ago. It is true that we all have random sometimes disgusting, appalling, and unwanted thoughts to flutter across our gray matter. What matters is not that we had the thought, but what we do with it after we have it. Do we dismiss it as a random, unwanted thought and move on to more acceptable thoughts, or do we dwell on it, allow it to loom large and influence all of our thoughts and actions? This is where the important choice must be made. I like to use this analagy: Thoughts can be like the birds. We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we certainly do have a choice in whether we allow them to build a nest in our hair! Think about that!Sp
Perhaps one of the greatest– no, really the greatest — struggles in my life was reconciling my faith tradition with my life long same – sex orientation. I am happy to report that that is no longer a struggle, and I have been blessed with a loving partner. In three short months, she and I will celebrate 14 years of committed, monogamous, covenant relationship. This poem written in 1998 reflects a portion of that struggle and journey.
She walked into my life and knocked upon my door.
She came into the light, and how my heart did soar.
I said this cannot be, yet it was reality.
This woman, this light, this love within my heart.
I said she’s just a friend, and my heart knew she was more.
I said this cannot be. Go away and come no more.
My heart, oh how it ached to see her walk out the door.
This woman, this light, this love within my heart.
I said this cannot be for my Lord it would not please.
I struggled with my heart ’til it broke in agony.
Then I rested in His Love for comfort and for strength
And heard the truth of His heart, my Lord and my strength.
“I look into your heart in Spirit and in Truth.
I see how it breaks, and I feel every ache.
Know that I love you, and I love her, too.
I know the truth that you both love me, too.
What I ask of you is this. Live a life that is true
In commitment and faith as you receive my Grace.
Oh, yes it can be. She is more that just a friend.
This woman, this light, this love within your heart.
I give you courage and strength to live your life that is true
In commitment and faith by receiving my Grace.
Oh yes, it surely is. She is more than just a friend,
This woman, the light, My Love within your heart.”
Note: I was poking around in some “stuff” this morning and found this. I undoubtedly wrote it almost twenty years ago!! Yea, I have files of written stuff! Anyway, I still like it and claim the empowerment of Just a Thought. Thought I would share.
Just A Thought
I sometimes wonder, really I often times wonder. Truly, I spend a lot of time wondering. My wonderings bring me to questions. My questions lead me to thoughts. My thoughts most frequently go nowhere. That is my thoughts do not lead to answers. Neither do they resolve themselves in solutions. Should my wonderings bring answers? Beats me! Just a thought.
If in my forty-five years of wondering or pondering or maybe, just thinking I have come to an answer, it is simply, repeatedly, and conclusively that I have no answers. I do not want to have answers or THE ANSWER. I do not want that responsibility. Now aren’t I such an irresponsible rascal! Or, am I? Ooops, another question!
I have grown up, outgrown, left behind those days of seeking to answer my own questions as well as those that others or the world might put before me. I like to believe I have, anyway. Still, I might be deluding myself about that; however, I think not, I hope not. I most assuredly pray not. I suppose, now that I think about it, that answering questions filled a need for me. I was, still am in many ways, a needy person. Aren’t we all? Ooops, another question?
Having the answer(s) looked good. Looked smart at least. Unless, God forbid, it was the wrong answer. Wrong answers brought consternation, condemnation – mostly my own (You stupid idiot!) – shame, “go crawl in a hole” syndrome, and oh, yes, FEAR. Need I mention continual rationalization, excuse making, back peddling, and, yes – blame shifting. Such an irresponsible rascal I am. Or am I? Maybe so – maybe not? I don’t have the answers anymore.
I think, too, that having the answers or thinking that I had the answers felt powerful. UMMM? Now is there anything wrong with needing to experience a sense of personal power? I think not. Oh, dear? Did I answer my question? Am I regressing? Wait don’t panic! “I think not.” – that’s a thought not an answer. It is my thought. It is a valid, worthy thought. It is mine, and I have a right to express it. Now that is powerful! It is not power over anyone, anything, or any bit of information. It is empowerment from within – real personal power.
Yep, I do believe I have learned. I’ve learned I don’t like crawling into holes. They are dark, musky, and cramped – oh, my legs. I don’t like hearing “You stupid idiot!” I was not created to carry a weight of shame. I am no longer comfortable rationalizing or making excuses. I do not like irresponsibly shifting blame. I choose to no longer live in fear – fear of being wrong, fear of not looking good or smart, fear of experiencing no power in, over, and through my life.
Long ago a fellow by the name of Paul wrote to his dear friend Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7 KJV) Yes, I have learned. Today from the empowerment of God within I share only thoughts, not answers. Thoughts that are, for the most part, the careful considerations of a sound mind. Thoughts shared openly out of love and not harbored in fear.
Oh, yes! I wonder. I think thoughts. I ask questions. Are there any answers? I think not – Save One. Just a thought!
In the spring of 1998 after experiencing a series of “reversals” – that means things were falling apart and “going to hell in a hand basket” in most areas of my life — physical health, relationship, professional, financial — I took off. I needed a break. “Get out of Dodge.” Change of scenery! I needed respite, recovery, and renewal. Pulling up stakes and leaving was different for me, yet I knew I had to go. I had seen an advertisement for seasonal help wanted at Grand Teton National Park. Actually, I gave the ad to my then twenty-year-old son thinking he might be interested. He wasn’t. The more I thought about it – why not me! The twenty year old son was working part time, still living at home, and perfectly capable of taking care of himself and the house. The seventeen-year-old son was going to be away all summer performing with The Cadets, a Drum Corp International group. Nothing was keeping me there but the part time job I had at the public library. So, why not! I applied and they hired me. I took a step of faith and quit the library job trusting that I would find another job upon my return. The younger son and I left home on Saturday, May 23rd. I dropped him at the Dallas airport for his flight to New York and his summer adventure. I headed out on my journey. I was a mess of brokenness! I remember tears clouding my eyes and telling myself “Stop this, you can’t see the road,” as I headed west out of Dallas. I was excited, yet I was anxious. Could I do this? What was out there on the road ahead? All I knew for sure was that I had committed to show up for work in the Grand Tetons on Tuesday, May 26th. I had 1,300 miles ahead of me. I was on the road!
JOURNAL Entry: 8:30 a.m. Monday, May 25, 1998 – Somewhere along US Highway 287 north of Rawlings, WY
Along the Road
Not a cloud in the sky.
Not another human being as far as eye can see.
Just wide open spaces and gentle cool breezes.
The eastern sky ablaze in the morning sun.
A ribbon of road before me.
A path of life to follow.
A journey to know.
A destiny to experience.
A history behind
Rich in joy and sorrow, love and tears.
A Hope ahead and today just as rich
Filled with joy and peace, adventure and rest,
Love and sorrow.
All to be known along the journey.
All to be experienced.
Each and all a destiny of their own.
The sun still shines.
The breezes still blow.
The road still winds forward.
The daily Destiny.
The Father knows I trust –
A Heart full of Hope.
Yes! I dance and sing – YES,
Along the road!
Not long after arriving in the Grand Tetons I discovered the Dixie Chicks song “Wide Open Spaces” which became one of the many road songs that lifted my spirit and nourished my soul during the months in the mountains. Even today when I listen to it my heart swells with cherished memories, joy, and thankfulness, as well as the knowledge that I sometimes simply need to hit the road and experience again wide open spaces!!
I would think after weeks that this story would have run its course in the news cycle, but apparently not, as we continue to see the headlines, photos and videos of thousands of Central American unaccompanied minors crossing our southern borders seeking asylum. It’s about immigration and children – subjects that typically rouse our passions. Plus, immigration and children in the package we are currently experiencing may put our passions in conflict with one another and that makes for more “story.” One may feel equally passionate about issues of immigration – legal or illegal — and caring for the well being, both short and long term, of children regardless of their ethnic or cultural origins. So – what do we do? Or, maybe more to the point – What did we do?
I know this is difficult – being honest about our own culpability always is – but let’s first of all acknowledge and be accountable for our responsibility in the current situation. Since Columbus first stepped foot on the American mainland near today’s Trujillo, Honduras, in August 1502 during his fourth voyage, the native peoples and their lands have been exploited by Anglos/Americans. Read the history from the establishment of the “banana republics” in the 19th century with their sprawling banana plantations to the U.S. led destabilization of Central America which began in 1954 with the overthrow of the elected Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz whose plans ran contrary to the interests of the United Fruit Company, a U.S. corporation owning much of Guatemala’s fertile land, along with railroad infrastructure, and a port. Let’s not forget the U.S involvement, both covertly and overtly in the Central American civil wars, gorilla wars, and military coups of the 1950-1980’s. Are we not surprised that with decades – even centuries — of exploitation, government instability, chaos, and lawlessness all exacerbated by extreme poverty within the population that corruption, gangs, drug use, and violence increased exponentially. And now we have thousands of children seeking to escape the violence and poverty streaming across our southern borders. Yep, no doubt, our national policies and actions through both Democratic and Republican administrations during the last two hundred years have contributed to the current humanitarian crisis on our borders. As a people and a nation we must acknowledge our culpability and complicity in this human tragedy. Can we not take this first step toward a solution? Let’s stop blaming everyone and everything else. Let’s stop maligning children and parents seeking safety, sanctuary, and hope in what we claim to be the greatest nation on earth. Let’s be the greatest nation and seek a solution that is just and compassionate and offers life and hope for all.
NOTE: I realize I have jumped into the fray with this post. As I stated in the previous post, for me the landmarks of our spiritual journey and subsequent growth are those times we take an honest look at ourselves and take responsibility for our actions, hold ourselves accountable for them, and move forward with new vision, hope, and resolve. Perhaps this is one of those landmark occasions when our nation needs to do just that!
It has been over three months since I posted anything on this blog! I could say I have been awfully busy and I have with lots of things – hosting a baby shower for friends, babysitting the grandkids, lots of planning, preparing, and partying in anticipation of my son’s wedding, and making this DVD for their homecoming wedding reception. He and his bride were married July 4th in a beautiful ceremony on the beach in Cabo San Lucas, Baja, Mexico. Yes, busy with some of the really real stuff of life—relationships, children, love, marriage, and babies. I wish them all immense happiness.
But, honestly, I think these would be just excuses. I cannot say how many times I have thought about this blog and cringed that I had not posted. If you read the random things about PS, remember the #1 item was “I am a procrastinator. Start strong and sometimes struggle to finish.” Well, I have done it again! As I have thought about getting back to posting, I remembered what some of my friends who attend AA meetings have told me about relapsing, not attending meetings, and then the sense of shame and embarrassment they have to overcome to get back to the meetings and program — something they know they need/want to do. I’ve had some feelings like that! Why go back? It has been so long! What will people think of me? Ouch! That’s some of the old negative self-talk. It still rears its ugly head from time to time.
So instead of shaming myself, not returning to the blog, or making lame excuses I opt for honesty – with myself and any readers out there. And, surely, I am not the only person/blogger who has had these struggles. Or, maybe I am?
It is my experience that occasionally (no navel gazing), taking a good honest look at oneself and one’s actions is essential in our spiritual journeys. Our level of personal and spiritual growth is evidenced in what we do after that honest look. Honestly, do we move forward with new vision, insight, hope, and resolve. Or, do we remain in the shadows of excuses and old patterns of behavior. The choice is ours and ours alone!
Surely, hopefully, the next post will not be such a long time in coming!
As much as we think we know all about the turning of the seasons, this phenomenon is still, in my way of thinking, an inexplicable combination of science, the natural world, and the creative power in the universe that is truly beyond our knowing. Spring is a favorite season for me. I marvel in the renewed life that abounds in nature and in me. Spring is the evidence of things hoped for and the promise of restoration and renewal of life — especially after this winter of extremes and discontent. It is indeed a resurrection from the dead, a display of the presence of a Higher Power.
I remain in awe that the seasons do turn, turn, turn, and I am thankful!
PS: I recommend scrolling through the photos as you listen to the music.
I really have been off lately. Not just “off” as in off from work or away. But “off” as in out of sync, feelings of angst, generally disgruntled, and a pervasive sense of agitation. When I experience times like this — and I have before, probably will again, and I would think others have as well –I fall back on an old tool I have used in counseling and times of personal reflection. I call it “ask and answer.” It is simply asking yourself the question and listening for the answer that bubbles up from within. I often shared with counselees that no one knows our answers better than we ourselves. In times of self reflection, inspection, and questioning our best guess is usually our best answer.
So, I asked and listened for my answer! What I heard, felt, sensed –no, I am not experiencing auditory hallucinations – was “Too busy! Too much time doing things for others – people, organizations, agencies – and not enough quiet time working on and doing the things you want/need to do.” Yep, probably right on! Plus, the weather has been a bummer. Spring weather is way overdue here in East Texas. Where is the sun??
Well, “Here Comes The Sun!” Yes, it was sunny a couple of days ago – not warm, but sunny – and I spent most of the day outside doing yardwork. Yardwork is good therapy – at least it is for me. I immerse myself in the work, mundane as it is, and feel relaxed, serene, and peaceful. In experiences such as this I am reminded of Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. Many years ago as I first read this little book, I was taken aback by the idea that “the most excellent method he had found of going to God was in doing our common business without any view of pleasing man, and (as far as we are capable) purely for the love of God.” As I continue on this pilgrimage, I find that practicing the presence of God, in those times that I am going about the ordinary, the mundane, “our common business” are the best times.
Thankfully, I am feeling a bit more in sync and less disgruntled and agitated. As I continue my pilgrimage I will, once again, strive to be more aware of God’s presence in all that I do for others, organizations, agencies, as well as those things I do for myself while keeping a reasonable balance among all this “common business.” And, as Spring is certain to arrive, late though it is, I will be able to say and sing “Here Comes the Sun!”
Author’s Note: In 2001 I was part of a small group of TEN who were members and supporters of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF), who met on numerous occasions to dialogue with one another on issues of homosexuality and what CBF and CBF churches might want to do to become more supportive of LGBT members and families of LGBT persons. We wanted to offer educational and informational sessions for church leaders and encourage dialogue within and among church members. We met with very little success in 2001. (See the Endnote!) The following is a letter I wrote to the group leader in August 2001. I believe it still rings true in many ways and reveals an important part of my spiritual journey.
I am writing in response to your asking for dialogue regarding homosexuality. Honestly, I struggle with writing this. There is a part of me that is weary of the debate that has raged for years. Denominations, churches, families, and individual souls have been splintered and shattered. We have built walls from the foundations of our differences to protect and promote ourselves and our individual and congregational beliefs. We have dissected and reexamined scripture. We have studied anew the Hebrew and Greek lexicons. We have devised “answers and cures” when in actuality there are none. And, still the debate rages and the schism remains. Yes, I am weary.
The part of me that writes today is urged to do so out of encouragement and hope in dialogue as opposed to debate. Can we at long last seek to relate and build bridges from the foundations of our similarities, primarily our atonement, our “at-one-ment” in and through Jesus Christ. Only Christ can bring us into true fellowship with Him and one another – and only if we are willing. So today, Susanne, I subjugate my weariness to my willingness and seek to dialogue.
We all have a story. Claiming and reclaiming, telling and retelling our stories heals us, affirms and confirms us, and connects us to one another. Regardless of the individual and unique experiences in our lives, these experiences evoke emotions common to all, though varied in levels of intensity and expression. It is in these common emotions and the shared experience of them that we can come to know and accept one another and ourselves more fully. I will share a bit of my story, where I am today and how I came to this place in my life.
I am a 51 year old homosexual woman. I struggled with attraction to girls from the time I was 12 or 13. Even before this I felt different. I was the little girl who wore the worn, dirty jeans in the heat of a Texas August. I treasured the pocket knife, rocks, and pieces of string that weighted my pockets. I was incensed that I couldn’t play baseball or football with the boys. I couldn’t go to work with my father as my brother did. I was told, “The farm tractor and dirty truck cab full of hired hands is not a place for a little girl.”
When the other girls were looking at, talking about, and giggling about the boys, I was looking at and thinking about the other girls. I felt alone and on the outside. I had no close friends. I harbored my thoughts and my fears about myself. As a freshman in high school I recall hearing such words as “fairy” and “queer” and looking them up in that large unabridged dictionary in the library. I did this, of course, with as much subtlety and discreetness as possible for a fourteen year old.
I felt that something was terribly wrong with me. I was so ashamed of my thoughts and feelings about the girls. Of course, I never acted on these. I busied myself doing all the good, right, and seemingly expected things – church activities, outstanding academic achievement, extracurricular activities, obeing my parents and being the “good” girl. On the outside I was the model student and daughter. On the inside I was miserable, lonely, and terribly ashamed of myself.
Suffice it to say that I struggled for many years with these feelings. It was a struggle that numerous times took me to the depths of depression, the brink of suicide and the doors of insanity. I can share more of my story at some other time, if you like, but after years of struggle, thinking I was “healed,” and considering myself as ex-gay, I have come to accept the reality that I am homosexual, and I am loved and accepted by my heavenly Father just as I am. Having arrived at this point in my life, I know more peace—the absence of conflict and unity with Christ—than I ever imagined possible.
I recently was introduced to a quote from Boris Pasternak’s “Dr. Zhivago”
Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite
of what you feel,…Our nervous system isn’t just fiction; it’s part of our
physical body, and our soul exists in space, and is inside us, like the teeth
in our mouth. It can’t be forever violated with impunity.
This observation rings true for me. I know the years of struggle and falseness certainly took a toll on my physical, mental and spiritual health. I have been in a time of healing, renewal, and growth for several years now. I seek only to live in truth, integrity (my outside matching my inside), and commitment in every aspect of my life.
Well, Susanne, I have gone on far too long. There is more story and my heart yearns to share more of how Christ has worked in my life to bring about reconciliation among my soul, my spirit in union with His, and my sexuality.
God bless you in your work to bring dialogue and reconciliation to this heretofore debate.
Endnote: In April 2012 the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship along with The Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University sponsored a three day conference, The Baptist Conference on Sexuality & Covenant. The conference convened in Decatur, Georgia, and was attended by well over 400 people. Lou Anne and I attended the conference. It was both humbling and refreshing to be a part of such a dialogue even if it did come over a decade after our first small group of TEN. You can read more about the conference here.