Archive for the 'Friendship' Category


green shoots

I have several dear friends. This was not always the case. I have become lucky in this way and I intend to hang on to them. One particular friend has gone through the whole same-gender-covenanted-couple-seeking-membership debacle of 2008/09 with me in a very deliberate way. We talked every day and walked together, whether here or there. Our friendship had always been centered around a sense of spirituality that we carried in common. We had many dreams and plans for doing things at the church we both attended. After the roof fell in there on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, and the dust settled (as slowly and alarmingly as it did after the World Trade Center collapsed), we tried to pick up and dust off whatever pieces remained. We hope to still be able to work together even though we are now at very different congregations, very different settings, and in very different places.

My compassionate friend is working on reconciliation in her congregation and I am working on starting over in my new congregation. I don’t know if reconciliation can happen without truth-telling and transparency. I had not seen very much of that when I worshiped there, but my friend cannot help but try. I will help, I will hope, and I will pray, but I don’t see the rainbow. That’s why I have left and gone on, quite tearfully, to a congregation where I do not have to walk Job’s road anymore. I did that for a long time in the congregation where my friend remains. I did that because I felt that God had assigned me the task of being front and center for this issue. Sometime in the week between May 31 and June 7, I distinctly felt released from that assignment, but it wasn’t an easy road to walk. There were so many people I’d come to love in one way or the other, and didn’t want to leave. The sense of loss for this and my visual art ministry to the people, was a constant companion in my heart and soul. Depression and tears took over my days, most especially at night when I was alone with God.

My friend talks about green shoots. I talk about phoenix rising from the ashes because fire is how it felt—burning to nothingness. It’s been two months since that decisive last  day in May. I shed many tears for the enormous losses I was experiencing. And I was angry—angry with the specific persons who failed to lead the congregational majority in the direction it wanted to go. My partner, Big Dawg and I were charred in the fire that burned in the church that day, and the following days. But we were not the only ones damaged. Everyone, except for those whose wishes remained intact was affected—collateral damage. The congregation is wandering in the desert, desperate for leadership. I don’t know where it will come from. So much damage all around. Green shoots. How does that happen without water and rain, sunshine, humility and truth?Green Shoots

I have been blessed. I am free to walk on…to follow on in the Way without hindrance. I am grateful. And I am no longer angry at anyone. The last bit of anger I had was finally toward God many days ago and, I gave that up too. No point in it, I realized because I can’t really hear God calling my name when my head is filled with the noise of hurt and anger. So now, my friend and I will pick up whatever pieces still glisten in the sun and we will see if between us, we can encourage green shoots in the corner where we are.


the gift of the magae

In my last post I told you all about Bennie and Bella and the joy they are to me and my family. As a child I loved cats, but my mother was frightened of all four-legged creatures. Despite that, my father brought one home once, when I was about 7 or 8. I had her for about a month, all the while knowing how much my mother actively hated her. One day, when I came home from school for lunch I couldn’t find her. My mother had given the kitty away, but claimed that she had run away. I was heart-sick about it—heart broken. I think it might have been my first such experience of loss. I knew my mother was not being truthful and the relationship between us suffered ever after because I could not trust her. I don’t think I could have responded any differently than I did as a child. The kitten had been my solace in a lonely world of blond, blue-eyed Americans. Once grown up, I filled my life with cats, to be sure, and even had a talk with my mother about the incident. She was sorry, I forgave her but we could not go backward in time. We both missed out on a trusting relationship between us.

When I learned that my friend’s family was going to welcome a cat into their home…an orange tabby no less…I was overjoyed for the children, especially the middle daughter who seems to yearn for her own place in the sun. (It’s hard to be a middle child.) I asked and received permission to post a drawing she had done of Jack the cat and he is below, at the very end of this post, watching over us all with grace and peace.

Also posted here is a little story called The Gift of the Magae, that my daughter wrote for me about 10 years ago.  She changed my childhood story to one with a happy ending. Although it is not quite biographical, it is a sweet little story and a sweet thing to do.

The Gift of the Magae, by Darling Daughter

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Merry, who grew up in Chicago during World War II. She lived in an old house with her parents, her two older sisters and a brother. During the summer, Merry and her family went to Lake Michigan to swim.  They took vacations in St. Joe Michigan and went to Armenian picnics in the park. Merry and her friends had lemonade stands and held scrap metal drives to raise money for the war effort. (Merry’s family were not Mennonites!) In the winter, she and her sisters listened to radio shows after school and went to the Saturday cinemas. But Christmas was the most magical time of all; Merry and her family would take the trolley downtown to see the decorations in the big department store windows, shop and have lunch in the Walnut Room at Marshall Field’s. She always looked forward to getting a new doll for Christmas. Sometimes, Merry and her sisters got to decorate the Armenian Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry, or even see the toy train set in the there.

Merry was happy except for one thing: she dearly wanted a pet, a warm, furry creature all her own to love and hug. Many times Merry had asked her mother for a cat, but she had said no each time. “Oh, Merry, what do you want that for? It’s dirty, it will scratch the furniture and scratch you too.”

“Please Ma I really want a kitty,” she said.

But the answer was always no. Merry tried her father, who looked at her as if she had lost her mind: “A WHAT! A cat, are you crazy? An animal in the house, no! Go do your homework,” he said.

“But Maureen Finley has a cat,” Merry begged her father. He gave her an annoyed look and sent her off to do her homework.

One day in the late fall, Merry’s sister came home with a small bundle for Merry. “Look what I found, Merry. It begged me to bring it home to you.”

“What is it…a kitten? Oh, thank you, thank you Faith,” Merry cried. “Ma, please can I keep it, please?” begged Merry, as the small bundle of brown tabby stripes nestled into her arms.

Merry’s parents grudgingly allowed her to keep the kitten. Merry was overjoyed with her kitty, which she named Mittens. She fed it every morning before school and in the afternoons when she came home. She brushed Mittens and played with her, and at night, the cat slept on her bed in a tight curl of fur. Merry and her kitty were very happy.

A few weeks later, Merry came home from school to find her tabby cat was gone. She called and called for it, she  looked in every nook and cranny but still could not find the cat. “Ma.,” she asked, “where’s my kitty? Have you seen her?”

“Oh, she ran away,” replied her mother casually.

“What, that’s not possible! You took her, you got rid of her, you know where  she is, you never wanted me to have it,” Merry wailed in helpless fury at her mother. She was inconsolable over the loss of  her furry friend and cried for days, but there was nothing she could do.

Christmas Eve came and the family prepared to decorate the tree and bake the paklava and lamb for the night’s dinner. Merry was helping her sister cut out paper chains for the tree garland when she heard a faint scratching noise at the  back door. She ignored it and bent her head back over the red paper, but…”scritch, scratch” there it was again. “I wonder what that is,” she thought and got up to look outside. At first, she saw nothing in the fading afternoon light and was  about to close the door again when she heard a tiny mew from behind the door. Merry stooped down and saw a cat. “No it couldn’t be,” she though… her kitty cat? She held out her hand and the kitten came close and rubbed against her hand. It was…it was her tabby cat! She had miraculously found her old home and came back from where ever she had been.

Merry picked up Mittens and brought her inside. She showed the cat to Faith who promised she would talk to their mom. Merry gave Mittens some food and she was soon purring happily in Merry’s arms again.

Faith was true to her word and convinced her parents to let Merry keep the cat. Her mother kept her promise and made Merry’s favorite desert to make up for the loss of her cat. Mittens lived with Merry and her family for many years, bringing warmth and fun into the old house. Merry grew up and had more cats in her life but she nevver forgot the wonderful Christmas and the cat who came to stay. The End.

This is Jack the cat, a lovely drawing by my dear friend’s middle daughter.  I think he is quite grand and will soon come out to play.

Jack by JillHe hopes middle daughter will understand his shyness and wait for him to get used to his new house and his new people.


what’s in a name?

Are names important? If so, why? This morning when I received an email from my dear friend, Crazy Horse (who is neither crazy, nor a horse, but is at times strange) concerning the naming of a soon to be adopted pet. The name mentioned was very disturbing to me, so I responded with an epistle about how not to name your pet and why good names are important. This advice was unsolicited and somewhat balllsy on my part, but lately I can’t seem to stop speaking out as though my opinion really matters all that much in our world—currently spinning backward. So I lowered my weapon and let ‘im have it. Both barrels on why we need to name out pets lovingly so that we are inspired to treat them lovingly and respectfully. As a fine topper, I threw in the Golden Rule as the standard by which we should care for our animal friends. Nothing like a little guilt when needed…like seasoning a stew.

Well, I think my views are right-on, BUT…they were not requested. In fact, I think CH might have been pulling one of my short legs. Clearly, I didn’t think of that at the time since I was knee-deep (not a long way down in my case) in serious personal thought. As the day wore on and my heart and soul accumulated many more thoughts accompanied by numerous emotions, I came to realize that I may have offended dear friend CH, so I wrote an apology, expecting a course correction, and went upstairs to eat dinner.

One and a half hours later, I sheepishly crank up my computer…sheepishly because some in the household think I have a computer addiction…and lo, and behold CH has sent a reply. I am told that no offense was taken and that my spouting off is a beloved quality (today anyway)! Do I believe this? Might as well, for today anyway. Tomorrow is another day and that’s all folks.



nothing lasts forever

Today is another gloomy day in the weird summer of 2009. It has been rainy and cold, more like October except that the sun is not in it’s comfy  October spot and doesn’t give that nice October sheen. I’ve decided to just take as it comes, since I can’t do much about it. We had a few days of authentic summer about two weeks ago…nothing lasts forever. On the positive side, we are greenly saving by not needing air conditioning….can’t think of anything else all that positive. There are a bunch of negatives…too much rain brings too many mosquitos…too few picnics…I could go on. There is probably a lesson in there somewhere.

In the midst of this gloomy summer/fall weather, I’ve been on the receiving end of a number of lessons lately—life lessons. These are not a lot of fun. Generally speaking they tend to be painful and only add value in retrospect. It’s like going through a long tunnel from here to there. It’s dark in there, damp and discomfiting. It can be scary and even painful. You cannot see ahead, only feel. Upon emerging, there’s light and warmth, and maybe a brass band! Looking back to that tunnel, it’s all in a day’s work, unavoidable and definitely past. As a rule, most of us don’t linger remembering  point by point how hard, or how cold, or how painful the journey through the tunnel may have been. We are happy to be here and now—relieved actually.  This is what is said about childbirth: only the joy is remembered, even though for some women the pain  and complications can be unendurable. The newborn is held and cherished. The pain forgotten. This is the beauty of Retrospect: one of God’s great gifts to us.

The tunnel  I find most difficult to travel is called loss. Loss in any form is painful to me, but loss of persons and friendships are at the top of the list. I have lost many in this category through no real fault of my own, rather…time, place and circumstance were the major players. I never chose to be a forerunner in the LGBT effort for a seat at the Vicar’s table. It just happened. One does one’s best before the Lord and either it works or it doesn’t. It didn’t work for my partner and me and I grieve all the losses, all so unnecessary and pointless.

This afternoon a good friend will come by and we will have what we call a “tea party.” This is  a lot of talking, sharing, brain storming, laughing, crying, and of course…tea and sweets. This friend, I still have along with some others, but the many that I had are not with me and I miss them and the church we all worshiped in together.

Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  I Cor 13:12

Bird 3x1.361


Addendum for today

I forgot to say that faith is when you are not in control !! Isn’t that most of the time, when you really stop to think about it? Learning to walk in faith is like being a tightrope walker or trapeze artist or mountain climber. It’s living in the now…this day, this minute, this second. Spontaneous and combustible.

This was a very good day, indeed. Thank you O(M) for watching my blogging back. Whadda mentsch!

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