This has been a crazy year, full of more things to be thankful for than I can count. So much has happened and still more to come it seems. Today I take a moment to reflect back on the year, express not only my gratitude but also my appreciation for all that I have rather than focus on what I am missing.
2015 Has been a year of major reflection and spiritual growth. Three days before Thanksgiving 2014 I found a new spiritual home in Common Ground Corona. Common Ground Corona is not a church, but rather as I call it, a spiritual center. Based on the concepts of Embracing humanity and expressing divinity, Common Ground Corona is an inclusive spiritual community, open to all faiths and walks of life. It is the true definition of an interfaith ministry. Sharing what is at the core of all major religions of the world, Love, Gratitude and Acceptance.
I began my search for something last year because at the time I thought I was lost. I had lost my mother a few months before and found myself struggling to cope with the loss of her in my life. For all the complaining I did about her while she lived, and I complain I did, I was unable to process the void that had been created when she was no longer here. I set out to do things I had never done before, to move outside my comfort zone and expand my world. Then I discovered Meetup on the internet.
A whole new world opened to me and I found myself joining group after group believing that I could spread my wings and become someone new. I signed up for Yoga, Hiking, Couples cooking clubs, and a few other groups not worth mentioning. Fully intending to move beyond the comfort of my couch and experience the world as I had never allowed myself to experience before. And then I saw a Meetup for a form of Spiritual Healing called Reiki. I had no idea what it was, but it sounded interesting, was free, or as the post stated, by donation.
I researched the organization and even emailed the head of the center as I had questions, I had many questions, but none more important than would Gary and I be accepted being a married gay couple. I did not want to walk into an atmosphere of negativity if our presence would be an issue. My concern was not simply for myself and Gary, but also for those who were part of the group. Rev. Danell responded with open arms, love and expressed her deep sadness that anyone would ever even have to ask. She understood where it came from, but was saddened that I felt compelled to ask the question.
Long Story short, we went, and fell in love with the energy and love that one could feel the moment you walked in the door. A few days later we joined Common Ground Corona for their Thanksgiving meal the day after thanksgiving. It was the start of a journey I could not have expected, and a decision I would never have imagined.
By May of 2015 I realized that I was being called to something greater, I had heard the small voice in my head for years, the desire to become had been trying to make itself known, yet now I could no longer ignore the calling. It was time to listen. Listen to the guidance that I was receiving, to the path that was opening before my eyes if only I would pay attention. And so, for one of the first times in my life, I listened, I thought, I meditated and I heard. By July I had been accepted into the Common Ground Interfaith Ministerial program as well as to Emerson Theological Institute.
You hear people say all the time, “ I was called to service”, I can admit that I never understood that was or how it would feel. I never comprehended being called to something so strongly that no matter how hard you tried to ignore or fight it, you simply could not. Yet this is what happened to me. I had been called for years, I simply refused to listen and follow.
My goal is to work with the LGBT community, to bring spirituality into their lives, not religion, but a connection to something higher than themselves and the dance floor. I would like to work with both the LGBT Youth who have been abandoned and neglected, for no other reason than because they cannot change who they are. I also want to work with the LGBT Elderly. The forgotten heroes who opened the doors and paved the path for everything that has been won since stonewall and before. Those who live alone, still fighting the demons of the past, not quite use to the freedoms that they fought so hard to gain for the rest of us. Those who, unless they have money, no longer have anything to offer the LGBT community, not because they have nothing to offer, but because no one takes the time to listen to life. No longer cute and attractive, in the eyes of the young, they have become marginalized, neglected and forgotten. My greatest achievement would be to bring these two groups together, to help both see their value to one another as well as to themselves. No I do not have it figured out yet, but the path will open when the time is right.
2015 was also the year that I published my book, “Crossing the Rubicon”. This was the completion of a twenty year project, and with the help of great friends and the support of a wonderful community, I found the courage and the means to bring my story to the public. This book has inspired and influenced people in ways I never could have imagined, and not just the LGBT community. It is about finding the courage to accept yourself, realizing that the biggest fight any of us have is first accepting ourselves and accepting the acceptance of others without projecting our fears and limitations on them. As a child I battled with being gay, I faced suicidal demons and turned away from anyone and everyone fearing they would reject me. I created walls and barriers that were not needed to protect myself not from the world as I thought, but rather to protect the world from me. I was on a roller coaster with high peaks and low valleys, fighting to find myself, to find my place where I believed I was alone.
Crossing the Rubicon is about that one act in your life that changes everything. The one thing you did that you can never undo, once committed, the new course is forever set. That choice brings a sense of freedom, and a whole host of other fears. Yet in the end my journey proved that I was not alone, and it truly does get better.
While written from the perspective of a gay man, and intended to be a beacon of hope for the LGBT community, my book has been well received by the heterosexual community, both old and young, each feeling the ability to relate this story to parts of their own. It also provided insight and understanding of homosexuality that they had never known, let alone considered.
In October, I flew to Ohio to be the Best Man for my Spiritual Brother. I was honored and proud to stand beside him and new bride, to be able to share this moment with him. As a gay man, I had never believed I would ever be asked to be the best man, I might have been less suprised had this been a gay wedding, but I never allowed myself to believe that anyone would ever consider me for this role. Yet another example of how we limite our own experiances by limiting our views.
Always an artist at heart, but feeling I had no talent, I went to a painting event with a great friend of mine, and discovered a love for painting. I have been teaching myself to paint through tutorials on line and trial and error. The painting I have created are not master pieces, yet through the process I have found a way to express my emotions in ways that I had longed to do in the past and feared. Once I realized that there is no such things as perfection, and understood that I was painting for myself and not for others, the creativity was able to be expressed. This is both meditative and therapeutic for me and something that I plan to continue.
As I look back at who I was last year and who I am today, I realize that I am not the same person I was. I have grown, I am open new possibilities, my outlook on life is far more optimistic than it ever has been before. The greatest change, I have a reason to live. I still believe in quality over quantity when it comes to living, but where once the thought of living to 70 caused great fear and determination that I would not, now I don’t care how long I live, as long as I live. Instead of waiting to see what is next for me, I am deciding what is next and working on bringing it into reality.
As the year comes to an end, I have no idea what 2016 will bring, but I know whatever it is, I will continue to grow and experience, be thankful every experience both good and bad, and grateful for all those who share this wonderful life with me. Happy Thanksgiving, and may it be filled with love, food and comfort.