Five Year

On Monday morning, my wife and I got into the car, buckled our seat belts, and took our VW Jetta on one last drive. She’s had that car since she got it new, a 2008 model: “Smokey.” Tinted windows, cloth interior, charcoal grey on the outside, and seat warmers in the front seat. Those seat warmers are so great for sore backs, cold mornings, and practical jokes on your partner.

I asked D what her favorite memories were. They came easy – going to get the car. It was an upgrade from a 1980s VW Vanagon camper. She was amazed it had cup holders – cup holders! What an upgrade.

She also talked about driving out to North Carolina to go to art school where she learned glass blowing and pottery.

Five years ago to the day, she told me about going to that art school and doing glass blowing, as we were riding in Smokey, on our very first date. I silently mused “that’s kinda hot,” and I wondered more about this girl who was my first real date with another girl.

We talked about our favorite memories together in the car: driving to our first date together, driving home from our first date (the first time we held hands, while listening to “the everybodyfields”), driving home from the hospital with our daughter – a nervous wreck that we had a tiny human in the car!

We talked about no so good memories – like when I spent hours alone in the car, driving around North Georgia for in home counseling with kids and teens, and the drive to the hospital while I was in labor – an hour long drive of o.m.g.

We talked about hoping we will form new good memories in our new vehicle.

It was hard not to feel nostalgic. Here we were on our five year anniversary of our first date, driving our car one last time.

But also, Sunday held its own nostalgia. Sunday marked seven years since my grandmother Nellie passed away rather suddenly. I found myself crying that morning, remembering and mostly just missing her. Wishing she could have met my precious family.

I found myself crying again at the senseless mass murder of people like me, like my wife, like my friends.

I got word that my brother’s wife was in labor, and it looked like a new life would be born before the end of the day.

I played with my daughter during the day on Sunday, and as I watched her, I wondered what kind of world she, and the other new little one would have to deal with. I worried. I fretted. I looked at her again, and I found a sense of calm and peace in knowing that she is in this world. And that she will make it even better, and that I can make it even better.

I had picture texts of a precious new life on my phone before bed that night, and again on Monday morning, so here we were, and here I was – in a state of deep thought, remembrance, and wonder.

We had two stops to make on Monday before we could eat together for our anniversary.

The first one took about an hour, the second one took over two.

Before we went to eat, we took Smokey in and traded for a different vehicle, one that will be more reliable, and one that will make more sense for our family.

Before that, we looked at a screen in a doctor’s office. We saw my healthy ovaries, my uterus in great shape, and a beautiful gestational sac with perfectly formed walls,

But empty.

This was our third look. The second was the hardest. I didn’t cry this time. Not at the doctor’s office, anyway.

I listened and asked questions about the surgery I will need to remove it. D and I looked at each other, on our five year anniversary of being together, and all I needed to know I was going to be ok was to have her look at me with her caring eyes.

On our five year anniversary, we talked about my fears of anesthesia and fears about future attempts at pregnancy. We talked about our new minivan and how did two hippie/granola lesbians wind up with one. We laughed about some things, gave each other personal and reflective cards, and we were silent together in the way that’s an okay silence, the reassuring kind.

They call it a “blighted ovum.”

In the best of terms, it sucks.

As we let go of that dream and look on to the healing process and then trying again, I wonder at how the miscarriage of justice for the LGBT community is so similar.

Just when it looks like things are positive last year at this time, the backlash starts in the form of bills and rhetoric, and now a massacre.

There aren’t answers for why this pregnancy didn’t work. We even tested the embryo, and she was given a clean bill. One of the nurses said, “Sometimes you don’t know. There’s just so much wrong in this old sinful world.”

There is so much wrong. In this world.

But you know what? We have the power to make it right.

And love will make it right.

Five years ago from Monday, D looked over at me and said she’d like to go out again sometime. I said I’d like that, too. She also said that she wanted to look at some stars – the first time we found ourselves in a familiar place – not wanting our time together to end.

Now here we are, and there is no end in sight. And I like that.

With Love that wins,

C.

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Bread

Last week, I felt like giving up. But, I didn’t. And now I am resolving not to.

We have been celebrating the joys of having full marriage equality in many areas of our lives. In some ways, it seems surreal. But, in the midst of all that joy, I have been incredibly disheartened.

I have seen friends, family, and strangers say some pretty rotten things about people like me & my wife. I have seen people say some very excluding things. I have seen people put objects and the chance to tell someone, “you are wrong, and I am right” above the feelings of others. I have seen people touting tough love as if Jesus Christ said “thou shalt be forceful in telling others how wrong they are” rather than “do not judge…”

I’ve felt like screaming when I’ve seen pictures of a duck hunting celebrity paired with a quote about “lifestyles” and loving people. So much so, I made my own response complete with a sunglasses wearing Jesus.

jesus meme

All tongue-in-cheek humor aside, I’ve felt pretty miserable.

I’ve really been affected by words that were said directly to me by a family member, as well as the words said on social media by other family members. I hate that I have been cut so deeply, but then I think again – why wouldn’t I?

Last week, near the end, I kept coming back to the same thought and the same image.

My family on my dad’s side does this really awesome bird call thing. I looked it up and found out it’s called an ocarina. A hand ocarina.

When they put their hands together and blow air, it makes a beautiful quail-like bird call. Then, they can manipulate the sound by moving their hands. My grandfather taught them how, because some could not whistle. It was a way for them to call out if they were lost in the woods.

No matter how much I tried, and still try today, I can’t do it.

As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be able to do it. No matter who tried to teach me, I couldn’t. As a musical person and a person who loves nature, it was incredibly hard for me to not be able to imitate this sound, so I would do my best with singing the tones.

It wasn’t the same.

The last time I remember being shown how was when my wife and I were at my grandfather’s before his health deteriorated quickly. He, my aunt, my dad, all able to do it in the room.

I couldn’t do it. Neither could my wife.

We are different from my other family.

Our wedding was bare bones. Hardly anyone related to me came or even sent a card. I remember going to elaborate weddings for my cousins.

Family doesn’t think anything of saying things which might cause us to feel excluded.

“Family” thought it was okay to tell me that I chose to be gay and split our family because I didn’t want to be lonely. That we are a house of sin and lies and that our daughter’s soul is in trouble because we are gay.

I’m in the woods of hate, spite, and prejudice, and I can’t make the sound to let everyone know that I need help. And I don’t know if they would care anyway.

Because of this and continual posts on social media, articles, etc, I want to distance myself so far from the church that there is no resemblance.

“Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” is not in the Bible.

Christ always had the harshest words for the religious people and he embraced the marginalized.

Christ.

I do still believe.

My dear dear friend, Mary Ellen, makes amazing sourdough bread. She gave me some starter last week.

Yesterday, I fed the starter, and I watched it activate and come to life in a jar on my counter.

In the afternoon as I made the dough, I thought of Mary Ellen, and I thought of her making the bread “with Christ’s love for ALL.”

As I punched down the dough, separated it, and formed it last night, I thought of “This is my body – broken for you.”

God, how the body is so broken.

My body. The church body.

Broken.

I saw Mary Ellen today, and she spoke words to me that I couldn’t believe – exactly what I needed someone to tell me – that my redemption and the redeeming love of Jesus does not hinge upon the views and actions of others. That the work Christ has done and is doing in me is real and valuable and will continue and will continue to affect others.

I sure hope so.

As I baked the bread this morning before work, I thought of more.

“The Kingdom of God is like yeast…”

The miracle of the feeding five thousand.

The parable about a child asking for bread, and why a good parent would never give a stone.

And finally:

“I am the bread of life.”

bread

And I choose today to believe that.

“Give us this day, our daily bread.”

Love,

C.

ashes turn grey

Churches are burning. I sat down with a pen and a scrap piece of paper. This is what came out.

ashes turn grey

ashes turn grey

and coals as black

as black can

be

remain.

charred remnants

of holy worship

and cries for

justice

and peace.

where songs were

sung there by

brown, black, mohagany

beautiful

people.

people unseen

unheard

unwanted

but by

God.

God – help.

terrorism erupts

in flames

in shots

in flags

in hearts.

firebombs

from the 60s

the segregationists

are coming

i see

their remnants

in the coals

in the ashes

in the pain

in the

hell and damnation

they cause

and continue

to purpose.

my voice

my mind

my heart

seem small

in the shadows

of the

surging

churning

raging

hatred and blissful

ignorance.

numbness.

apathy.

resolute.

pen and paper

are all i can

bring myself to

words will not come.

how can we wake

wake ourselves up?

then what?

and churches burn

and ashes turn grey.

and brown, black, mohagany

remain.

resolute

to overcome

the terror.

not only God help them.

We.

how did we get here?

what must we do?