Thursday, June 9, 2022

PRIDE?

It is “Pride Month,” and I cannot say that I feel pride.

Please do read on.

I moved to New York City from Ohio in the mid-80’s. It was in New York that I first directly experienced an LBGTQ+ event. Back then it was simply called Gay Pride. There was a parade and a festival. It was all very, well, gay. A bit overwhelming for an Ohio boy. I admit that some of the displays of “pride” behavior made me feel very uncomfortable. I knew that they were in the name of freedom. And I felt that the demonstrations were more alienating than they were harmonizing with the larger population. In a spirit of transparency, I still grapple with that. While I refuse to fit in and hide as a result of societal norms, I also question sabotaging connection for the sake of what can feel outrageous.

I “came out” at nineteen. Back then it was a courageous act that cost me family members, friends, and a felt degree of safety. Things were changing, but slowly and even dangerously. In retrospect I left the closet incrementally and with caution. I stepped out, and at times ran back in. People would declare their acceptance, and then betray that with side comments and thinly veiled homophobia. I exposed my authenticity only to have it trampled upon many times. It truly was a process with many hurts and many gains. And I freely admit that the same back and forth was happening inside of me. About me.

I did not grow up with any real experience of pride in general. My parents never once told me that they were proud of me. I never heard it from teachers or clergy. I just do not ever recall hearing it. I have no internal Velcro for it. I have never accomplished anything for which I felt pride. Never. It just isn’t a part of my wiring.

I do not know pride.

So, when I attended my first Gay Pride event, I really did not understand it, I did not feel pride internally, and I could not connect to the pride of the throngs of people parading, dancing, drinking, outrageously behaving. I suspected there was something wrong with me that I did not feel such jubilation. I felt added freedom. I felt like the door to the closet had been ripped from the hinges.I felt comradery with many if not all of my fellow LGBTQ+ expresses. I just had no sense of pride.

I also did not feel the same level of oppressive shame. I did feel as if there was power in numbers and in authenticity. In New York I could be my full self and really feel a sense of coming out. From my perspective, Ohio was the closet and New York was the land of freedom. There was some naivete in that for sure. Yet I felt a true sense of liberation even if it did not equate to pride.

The shedding of shame was also a process. There were layers of grief, fear, anger, and shame to feel my way through. There was a heavy armor to be removed. It has taken decades. I am certain I will never be completely clear. I have done enormous work. Courageous work if I may say. Tenacious work. And there will always be work to be done. I was told as a child that what I secretly knew I was, was an abomination. A violation against God. That was shattering to this being who always felt a deep and profound call to the sacred. There was no place for me at that table. I was relegated to back ally bars and once a year festivals.

So, with all that work that I did I wish I could say I was proud.

At sixty-five I have long left Pride parades and festivals behind. I simply feel no need or draw to them. Maybe its age. And maybe it is the enormous amount of internal work I have personally paraded through. I now leave to younger generations the events, festivities, and deliberate activism. I know that they get to express as freely as they do because of my work and the work of my and even older generations. I know there is still danger. Hardly gained rights are even now being threatened once again. My activism now is being true to my full expression. I am a gay man married to another man. I minister without a hint of hiding. I give kudos to the organization that hired me. It was a risk, even in a more liberal spiritual environment. They were brave. And so am I.

I have come a long way. Yet I still do not feel pride. I cannot honestly say I am proud to be a gay man. It simply feels like a part of my total being. It is an important part. Yet it is a part. As is gender. As is height and weight. Hair and eye color. I am a complex being comprised of so many aspects and parts. I am first and foremost a Spiritual being. I am here to be fully human and freely Divine. Being gay is an important part of my Soul adventure, of that I am clear. I have come to embrace it. It has come with many challenges and hurts. I could not honestly say I would choose it if I had the conscious choice. I never understand people who say it is a choice we make. I do not remember a time when my orientation was anything other than homosexual. I also know it is integral to my unfolding here in this incarnation. I accept and embrace it as such.

I just would call it pride.

I write this for those who do celebrate June as Pride month, and who genuinely feel their own sense of pride. It does not dismay me that I do not. I will relish and celebrate my sense of acceptance, freedom, transparency, liberation. That fills my heart. It fills me that I am writing this and will gladly and freely take the risk of sharing it with a world in which I am still not universally accepted. I do not feel the need to be. I get to live in my own sense of acceptance and even self-celebration. It has taken a lot to get to this. A lot.

I almost feel proud.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

BE MORE DO LESS

The older I get the more I appreciate efficacy. And that is the foundation of my prayer life.

While it is always true, I am writing this blog solely for myself. And I trust it will touch one other person.

There is a repetitious perspective that is being echoed seemingly everywhere these days.

“Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

Every time I see and hear this admonition my gut registers the same response.

Thunk

My take on this, and remember that I am writing this for me, is that people who cling to that perspective are tossing off a few mental prayers and then diving into what is often excessive and ineffective action.

Someone recently said to me “my thoughts and prayers are with you.” I know this person well enough to be authentic in my response.

“Thank you. Keep your thoughts, and I welcome your prayers.”

I continually hear simply praying is not enough. I repeatedly hear that it is action that is needed. And I confess to feeling a double thunk.

For me prayer IS action! It is sometimes referred to as Divine Activity. It is the activity via Universal Law to our felt-prayer energy. It is quantum engagement. It is transformative energy. It is the most efficient of activities. It happens in the invisible realm. It attunes us to the vibration of Source. It allows us to very literally heaven earth.

The physical realm and all that is happening are effects of consciousness. Taking non-prayerful action simply rearranges the effects without accessing Cause. We are overdoing because we are first under-being. We are always being beckoned and beseeched to Co-create in consciousness first. To invite and then to court a vision of a transformed reality. To do so we need to spiritually detach from the effects of the manifest realm. We need to activate our Source-guiding Imagination. We pray into the feeling of that. It is not merely mental. Mental prayer has little power. The power is in the felt. It is in the Presence. It is heart centered. It radiates out virtually first. Then that radiation provides a clear guidance as to what needs to be done. To act without deep felt prayer is rearranging the deck chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

I know and appreciate that we all have programmed bias. The majority of people in our culture are of a doing bias. I am not framing that as somehow wrong. It does have its weaknesses, however. As does a being bias, which has become my personal mo. And, as the Buddha taught “there is nothing more ineffective as action without prayer.” I used to run around in what I now see as excessive and mostly ineffective doing. I now recognize that by praying first and deeply, my actions are fueled and imbued by the Inspiration within me.

And so, the longer I am treading a conscious spiritual way of living the more I appreciate the unparalleled power of prayer, of Divine Activity. I do less as I be more. I only take action from a place of prayerful consciousness. It is felt first, and then becomes thought and then action. In that order. I am crystal clear that prayer is the most important part of that dynamic. I do not diminish action. I simply keep it in perspective.

As I began, the older the get the more I appreciate efficacy. Efficiency. I appreciate accessing a Power Greater than myself. I attune and vibrate at that frequency. I glean a vision from it. I steep in it at the felt level. And then I act from it. I trust then that what unfolds is in service of the vision. Activating timeless spirit, I do have to wait on a manifestation. I let it happen as I continue to hold prayer space. It is a way of being that truly works for me.

Prayer truly works for me. In me. And so in the world.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

NO REGRETS?

I personally don’t understand the notion of not having regrets.

Perhaps I should have preceded that statement with a spoiler alert disclaimer.

I recently saw yet another meme posted by someone I respect that spoke of having no regrets. While I certainly have no need to argue with this person’s experience or perspective, I still do not understand it. From a clinical perspective it is five-year old’s and sociopaths who truly have no regrets. Regret, like guilt, is adaptive. It is healthy. It is guidance. Regret can be a master teacher if we let it be. It shows us when we are out of touch with our values. When we have mistreated others. When we are out of integrity with our word. It brings us out of our concepts and into our reality. Regret serves congruency.

I have regrets for sure. And I have used them. They have assisted and guided me. They have led me to forgiveness and amends. They have made me a better person. Having used my regrets, they no longer use me. So, while it may be culturally and spiritually-correct to claim no regrets, I have found them to be angels that got my attention and altered my attitudes and behaviors. They let me know in no uncertain terms that I have a conscious, and that I needed to change the way I was showing up. Uncomfortable does not equate to unbeneficial.

If I speak or act unconsciously my angel of regret points it out immediately. The more I have acted on the guidance the more friendly I have become with regret. I do not avoid it. I welcome it. The discomfort is a small price to pay for where it leads me. This part of our healthy humanity is precious to me. I do not make it a problem, and so for me it is not.

Let me just say this: not regretting regret is a great place for me to reside. I also do not feel guilty for experiencing guilt. Again; regret and guilt are adaptive. I am not five, and am clearly not a sociopath. I know that because I occasionally feel regret.

So, I personally don’t understand the notion of not having regrets. It is okay for you. Just not for me.

And that I do not regret.