Sunday, June 28, 2015

Vintage Flea Market

Marriage Equality Flag Flying over Hillcrest

Thank you Edie Windsor

Landmarks in Rainbow Colors


 Brandenburg Gate

 Capitol of Puerto Rico

 SFO Air Traffic Control Tower

 St. Louis

 One World Trade Center


 San Francisco City Hall

 Empire State Building

Niagara Falls

White House

Saturday Morning Coffee

Josh and Shawn

Saturday, June 27, 2015

"...the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition."

...“ marriage itself — is one of the most important institutions of American life. And so any law that excludes an entire class of people from that institution is fundamentally incompatible with the freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution.”  -  Amanda Taub

“Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”  -  Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshal

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right”  -  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Why Marriage Equality Matters to All Americans

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

Co-workers from the mid to late '90s: Lois Happy, Terri Hilterman, Jill Dautzenberg, Bob Dover, me, Sue Judd, David Haas, Jan Quindry. At Rantoul.

Word of the Day

adjective:  relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral.
"I startled a large and handsome hare, who ran away from me in a zig-zagging panic — and with all those hawks around, so he should. I had an atavistic urge to chase him, but quickly came to my senses and realized I had no chance."
- Elizabeth Gilbert


"Someone must risk returning injury with kindness, or hostility will never turn to goodwill." — Lao-Tzu

Monday, June 15, 2015

There, But for the Grace of God, Go I

While most say these words with great reverence and gratitude, they miss the most important point. Those words imply that the Grace of God lies with you, or more in you, than in the poor unfortunate soul you've cast your eyes upon. Who are you to think you're better than that person? Why do you think God has bestowed His Grace on you while withholding it from someone else? Doesn't a Mother love all of her children equally while knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each? How can you think that God does any less? To me, that phrase brings up images of the Pharisees loudly praising themselves in the Temple for being favored by God and better than those poor unfortunate souls out in the dust of the street.

While God bestows His Grace equally on all of us, we may not fully understand what His Grace encompasses. His full Grace and Mercy on me may look very different than His full Grace and Mercy on you.  While winning the lottery is something we all would like to experience, it has been a blessing to some and a nightmare to others who wish it had never happened. It may be that someone worse off, suffering more than ourselves is a stronger person we should respect all the more because God knows they have strength we don't to bear those burdens.

The thing I most object to about that phrase is its statement of separation, of difference between us. It's saying, “thank God I'm not that person.” Jesus and all spiritual teachers have stressed the importance of seeing ourselves in all people, in all things, in treating all women and men as our brothers and sisters.

I have great respect for Caroline Myss, but for me a better prayer is: 
“There go I.”

Caroline Myss:
Except for the Grace of God Go I

“I remember hearing that spiritual prayer of acknowledged gratitude over and over again while I was growing up. And I certainly heard the nuns say it. As a child, I loved the sound of that phrase because it was a phrase that seemed to hide a great jewel of wisdom. It was a type of treasure chest made of simple words that when strung together communicated a powerful truth. ”Except for the grace of God go I.” It was apparent that those words conveyed some sort of profound meaning because I noticed how the nuns would nod their heads in a type of collective agreement after one of them uttered that phrase. Eventually I let go of my mission to crack through the deeper meaning of this phrase and got on with the business of growing up. I was about eight-years-old when I made that decision.

That phrase exploded out of the dust of my mental archives in my early thirties, right on time you might say. It was just one of those days, really, that starts out gorgeous but ends up being a game changer. That day was made for walking. So that’s what I did. After a few hours, I got an iced-tea and sat on a bench to check messages and all that sort of thing. I didn’t pay any notice at all to the guy who sat on the bench a few minutes later. Why would I? But, as I was about to find out, certainly noticed me.

He asked me if I would get him an iced tea. One glance told me he was homeless or en route to that crisis. I asked him if he wanted a sandwich, so long as I was getting him a cold drink. He did. I turned to leave as soon as I gave him his meal but then he said he hated to eat alone and would I mind just sitting with him. I was uncomfortable as all get out – I mean down to the pit of my stomach. But I was in a familiar park and it was day light and I knew I could run faster than him…so I figured, ugh….okay. UGH

He took one bite out of his sandwich, one gulp of his drink and said, “I know you want to get the hell away from me. I know you are uncomfortable as hell right now. You don’t know me or anything about me. I’m a veteran. The war in my head won’t stop. I just try to find quiet places now. That’s all.”

My heart hurt. I could feel the pain in my chest explode. My eyes filled with tears and all I could hear in my head was, “Except for the grace of God go I.” I could have been sent to harm others or to face some type of horror. Or I could have witnessed nightmares early on, but I did not. I sat next to him and felt the whole of my life reshape itself into a simple but deeply meaningful prayer of gratitude and one of grace for the other. It is these moments, these tiny encounters that just show up out of nowhere, that are the purest expression of God in the small and present details of your life. This man changed my life. I have looked for him many times in the park near my home and have never seen him again – not to imply that he was “not of the Earth”. We have yet to cross paths again, but I hope it does happen.

Through him, I entered into yet a deeper mystery about life but with so much gratitude about each day of my life. This is one of my own prayers:
“I never know where I will find You or how You will speak to me. Some days it is through new person and other days it is through a new experience. Each day I become more aware of something I did not understand or realize before. I knew I should be grateful for all that I have but now I realize I should also be grateful for all that I do not have. For I do not have traumatic war memories and I do not have scars from being a refugee and I do not have the fear of a homeless person. I am grateful for all I have and for all I do not have. If I am grateful for having been spared a suffering, give me the grace to help those who are suffering. Amen”

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner

Cynthia, this wasn't all just for a reality TV show and it's not a joke. I had met several transgender men and women, but I really started to understand them a few years ago when I attended a Transgender Day of Remembrance and heard their stories and saw their pain. I also got to see their joy when they were able to express themselves in the way they were most comfortable, in the way that matched the way they felt inside. It was then I realized that if I was expecting straight people to understand me when I told them about my experience as a gay man, a situation they had no experience with and no way to experience it for themselves, then I owed it to transgender people, an experience I have no way to understand directly myself, to believe them when they told me who they were and what their lives were like. It's not unlike when you tell me about your experience as an African-American and as a woman in American. Those are two things I can never experience directly myself, but when you tell me about it I'll believe you. And I won't think your experience is a joke. Maya Angelou said when someone tells us who they are, believe them. Caitlyn Jenner is telling us who she is. We owe it to her to believe her. Peace.


"The best use of imagination is creativity.
The worst use of imagination is anxiety."