Friday, September 26, 2008

Hosea 14 for the October 2008 issue of "Network News"

Hosea 14 for October 2008
by Rev. G

The Psalms tell us to look towards nature to learn about God’s glory; I like to look towards nature to also learn the truths about life. For example, manure makes things grow, pruning makes things bloom, and some plants thrive in the sun while others need the shade. In other words: “manure happens” but it is often the bad things we experience that help us to grow into who we are; sometimes in order to bloom we need to let go and get rid of the things that hold us back; and while some partners need lots of attention to be happy, others do better with healthy distance and space.
Perhaps the best source of my nature inspiration comes from the lake my apartment complex is built around. Last year I wrote about the all-male group of ducks that gathered there. This year something similar, yet different, occurred.
For about a week there was a group of ducks that gathered by the water . I’d pass them on my morning walk. What was unusual was that a lone goose sat with them on the grass. We have geese during obvious moments of the year, but never before had I seen just one goose sitting amongst a dozen ducks.
I found myself anthropomorphizing the lone goose, and in the process identifying with it. Here was this one goose in the midst of these ducks; so much alike, but yet oh so different. Was it welcomed as part of the flock, or just tolerated? Did it feel lonely as the only one? Was it aware of its difference from all the others? Did it hang out with the ducks in the daytime and in the darkness of night fly off to some hot spot or support group for others of its kind?
Seeing that lone goose in the midst of the ducks made me think about myself and my journey as a gay man in a straight world, and as a gay pastor in the church. Like so many, I’ve been able to do it, knowing I am different, and yet in some ways the same. But seeing that goose made me face a sad reality that exists with my spirit: that it’s lonely being the only one who is gay in a group of people. It’s lonely being the only gay person I know of in my family. It’s lonely being the only gay person I know in my apartment complex.
Let’s face it, my experiences as a gay man is different then non-gays. Unless if I adopt, or become a foster-parent, I will go through life not knowing what its like to have a child. Holding hands with my boyfriend has to be done quickly, carefully and in locations that are safe. For now, a wedding announcement can’t be placed in the paper, and people I don’t know get to vote for what rights I may or may not have. And to be among people who are most like me, I need to enter a smoky bar, or drive north into Grand Rapids or west into Saugatuck or be pro-active in arranging a get-together of LGBT friends.
I am that goose, sitting by the lakeside in the early morning, amongst all the ducks who are busy resting, primping and socializing. I am grateful that in most of my life I have the ability to be honest and open about who I am, and to be welcomed by family, friends, parishioners and neighbors; but I also carry a bit of sadness and world weariness because sometimes I feel as if I am the only one, that “my kind” aren’t always near me.
Seeing that lone goose made me realize just how heavy that burden can be, so today I give that burden up to God and share it with all of you. During this month, which features National Coming Out Day, may God bless whatever loneliness you are feeling; may God continue to make it so that even in our differences we can feel as one.

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