Sunday, September 2, 2007

Radiant sunshine- this long week-end so far

Almost a week ago, when I read of the attempted mob attack on the Nigerian prison holding the 18 men accused of homosexuality, I sent the story and link out to more than twenty colleagues and contacts, assuming at the very least the report would raise an wave of protest. Silly, naive me- not one of the recipients saw fit to either respond or to mention what happened in their various, respected on-line blogs.

And I can't help but wonder what I might be missing here. I mean, these are our brothers; as, of course are the members of that same mob- neither party which can be reached by a solitary writer here in Montreal.

So why aren't LGBT folks writing the Nigerian representatives in our respective countries, reminding them they are being watched by the world?

Why wasn't the internet abuzz with righteous outrage?

Why, to my knowledge, hasn't Amnesty International done their usual great job of taking something like this to the media?

Why aren't inclusive Anglicans marching outside Nigerian embassies?

Is it possible.... an outside chance I know, that this might be an indication of some last vestiges of internalized homophobia we've all got to work with?

On another note, being the last long week-end of the summer has already brought all sorts of interesting blessings.

First, the arrival, early yesterday morning of Wendy, in full robes to do our usual morning sit out on my back deck as the sun rose. To be honest, so much had been going on in these last few days I'd forgotten I could anticipate Wendy's visit to Montreal to look after her mother's care.

Perhaps being caught unawares by the doorbell, shortly before five a.m. left me even more open to an appreciation of the great grace and depth of understanding the two of us have come to share in the two years we have known each other. (A tripple Gaassho to Dianne and Susan for making that connection)

Even though she might crinkle her eyes, trying to understand, Wendy has been nothing short of generously patient with my passionate engagement with what I believe to be the on-going renewal of the Church I was born into, whose liturgy and language will always shape my life.

Over breakfast after my shorter sit and Wendy & Dennis' full ritual out on the back deck we were able to share one of those seamless great sojourner conversations of which are such a blessing in my life.

And of course, the blessing continues as they both returned last evening for our second sit of the day, and again this morning before she and Dennis headed up north for an overnight with school friends of Wendy's.

Dennis was another great surprise blessing who roared with laughter when I referred to finally meeting him as the ‘icing on the cake’. Dennis is a gay artist, who entered Zen practice more than a decade before Wendy or I; who took ten year priest vows and now lives in northern New Jersey. He also once weekly travels into NYC to spend a day with Tom who is wondrously working towards his first anniversary clean of addiction. The news Dennis brought of Tom literally brought tears to my eyes, and nothing more so than the news that their days together often includes the two of them participating in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the church Tom joined after becoming an Episcopalian. To quote Dennis ' I might not be comfortable with the blood sacrifice references, but something's definitely happening there, and it's simply my job to turn up.'

Now how's that for engaging the Divine?

This morning's ritual also brought an amazing new element to our sit- something I suspect Dennis found in the Eucharist- intercession.

After Dennis and Wendy had finished, I was called back to my bench to join them.

Each of us with a generous block of the Tibetan incense I use and a lighter, we lit individual sticks and named individuals or situations we were asking healing or grace for... And wouldn't you know it, when we ran out, Dennis had extra incense tucked into his robes.

Each stick was mindfully set into the metal bowl filled with cat litter in front of us, and at times it got pretty crowded in there as a wonderful cloud of incense smoke rose over my tiny back yard.By the time we were finished none of us had escaped tears.

Breakfast wasn't possible this morning with Wendy and Dennis heading up to the Laurentians, but standing out in the street, watching them drive off into their day, I couldn't help but repeat a silent 'thank-you' over and over again. And coming into our tiny house with Willie, I sat in the sunshine and silence grateful to have been brought back to the wondrous wholeness I usually experience with sitting with members of the very special shanga Life has brought me.

Once again back on my bench, I was mindful of the very great debt I owe to the dharma and the very generous way its essential teachings have accommodated my particular practice. It's the dharma practice, if anything, which has got me through my earlier years of AIDS service and activism, which kept me from breaking under an experience of institutional homophobia, and which has left me open to the great bounty of occupying this tiny house and being rescued by Willie the blessed daschund. But of course that 'if anything' is but another unskilful way of crediting God's unconditional grace and love; as I've long ago learned there are no speed bumps between the boundaries of denominational or traditional labels when it comes to God's passion for creation.

And of course, it's the non-dualistic vision of Zen, along with the work of Wheatly and Senge among others- both generous Buddhists of another tradition, which has allowed me the reckless freedom to take such risks towards the transformation of the toxic workplace culture I work in, and to so passionately embrace the process of transformation our Communion is currently going through.

Sitting here I tried recalling all the great teaching lives and those of witness which have blessed and which continue to bless my path- some of which might even be reading this now, and I thanked each one. Which I suppose brings me back to this blog, which this morning, among other things is meant to be a collective thank-you.

Sitting out on the deck that first morning, the three of us each had a sense that what we wanted to offer this week-end's incense for was 'tuken olam' that wonderful Hebrew phrase- to heal the world. So even that residual internalized homophobia I mentioned earlier is covered. Another example of the Universe's essential seamlessness.

And speaking of seamlessness, a book I'm revisiting this week-end is 'being zen' by Ezra Bayda who practices in the lineage founded by Joko Beck, the author of one of the first significant books on Zen I read during the chaotic first years of the AIDS holocaust. And not surprisingly, Ezra speaks directly to what we're going through in the Communion right now...

In an attempt to keep from falling through the cracks in the ice, we choose our strategy, either working harder to maintain control of our lives or making
misguided attempts to escape from our difficulties with diversions, pleasures or
busyness. Rarely do we question our strategies, which are always rooted in fear.
We believe in them, as the unquestioned truth. Yet in doing so, we define our
own boundaries, our own restrictions. Consequently our life narrows down to a
sense of vague dissatisfaction...
Sometimes we have to fall right into the icy water, unable to move or breathe, overwhelmed and drowning before we're forced to deal with the deep-seated conditioning that runs our life- all the land mines of anger, fear and confusion.... When we fall into these unwanted situations, we can no longer strategize to avoid facing our pain. It's right in front of us!

Which could sound pretty grim, except that we’re speaking of The Living Breathing Body of Christ, so we’re not alone in all of this, and it would appear that all we’ve got to do is show up- mindfully working to free ourselves of our old strategies, our old stories and grievances, consciously opening to the process Christ is working with us in His Church at this time.

Casting it all in a larger context though, I’d quote another Zen practitioner and fellow Montrealer- Leonard Cohen, it’s only through the cracks that the light can stream in, and have we got cracks at this moment in time- so let there be light, to quote an even greater original source- The Original Source of all Creation

Which brings me back to another of Dennis’ wonderful deep laughs... Yesterday morning, over breakfast, when I was less than skilfully sharing with him my understanding of what’s currently going on in the Communion, he laughed when I referred to our LGBT vocation as the leaven in the process Christ is working. ‘Leaven- that’s yeast, isn’t it’ he asked... ‘You have any idea how funky yeast is’ he chuckled.

‘Oh we LGBT folks can be right funky at times, ‘ I reminded him. ‘Just look at our history as a people!"

And on that note...

God’s Greatest Blessing for God’s Greatest Glory!Always!


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