Archive | November, 2012

Imagine…

20 Nov

 

Two weeks ago, I attended a Jennifer Knapp concert at Southern Oregon University.  Ms. Knapp is a singer/songwriter who as a young woman made a name for herself in the Christian music scene, and my church (along with a few other churches and the Queer Resource Center) helped bring her to Ashland.  And while her music is riveting, it was not the only reason for her visit.  You see, Jennifer Knapp was adored as a Christian “rock star” until she came out as gay.  Then things changed.   The “Christians” that had loved her music before, now turned their backs on her.  She was no longer considered one of them.

Ms. Knapp shared her spiritual journey with the audience.  She explained how she tried to leave Christianity behind, but felt that the teachings aligned with her core beliefs… and came to the conclusion that even though she was “gay”, she was also a Christian.

After the concert, Jennifer took questions/comments from the audience.  The one that moved me to tears went as follows.  A woman in her forties shared that she had recently come out to her family, and that since that time her son has had nothing to do with her.  She asked what she could do to and Jennifer said, “Love him.  Whenever you see him, love him.  You can’t change him… but you can love him.”

Jennifer sounds like a Christian to me, by golly.   But wait, she’s gay?  So the fact that she is loving, accepting, and forgiving doesn’t count then, right?  Right.

A few days ago I saw on Facebook that it was the one year anniversary of this post, I am Christian, unless you’re gay.  It’s a great article, and if you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so.  The author, Dan Pearce tells us about his friend “Jacob” who is gay… and he goes on to say that his article is not about homosexuality, instead – It’s about love. It’s about kindness. It’s about friendship.  

Jacob had asked Dan to share with his audience (Dan writes the blog, single dad laughing) how it feels to be gay in a conservative Christian community.   Here is a quote from that article, “You don’t know what it’s like to have your own parents hate you and try and cover up your existence. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t want this. And I’m so tired of people hating me for it. I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”  

After reading the article, my heart ached for Jacob and the fact that he is virtually being shunned by the community in which he lives for being who he is - the person God made him to be.  My head raced with questions: Who are we to tell another person how to live their life?  What gives us the right to judge them?  What part of that kind of this behavior is “being Christian?”

From all the stories that I have heard about Jesus, I just can’t imagine him turning his back on anyone.  One story that many are familiar with (and one of my favorites) is the about the woman who is to be stoned to death for being an adulterer (according to ancient law).  Jesus does not question the law, but instead says “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

It seems that we are still acting like those ancient people – wanting to find fault with others (and throw stones) because they are not like us – or they’re not acting like we think they should act.   And when we are focused on others, we remain blissfully blind to our own shortcomings.   But try to imagine what the world might be like if we tried to be more like the man from whom we have the word “Christian”?   I think it’d be pretty amazing… don’t you?

Yesterday I brought a Chocolate Cream Pie to the Queer Resource Center at SOU to thank the people who helped to bring Jennifer Knapp to our area… and to recognize them for all they do to make the university a welcoming place to all students.

You may say that I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.   I hope someday you’ll join us,  And the world will live as one.   John Lennon

 

The Wrong Number… or was it?

7 Nov

A few days ago I prepared some gluten-free Manicotti for an older friend who is moving to Portland.  I thought having a ready-made meal would make the week before moving a bit easier.  After the Manicotti was finished, I dialed her number to let her know what I’d done and ask when I could bring it over.  After a few rings, a very tired voice answered the phone.

“Oh my Sharon, did I wake you?” I asked, feeling terrible for disturbing her.  “No” she answered, “I’m not feeling well.” “I’m so sorry… do you need anything?”  “No… I’ve got people taking care of me,” she replied, “What can I do for you?”  Confused and still feeling bad about disturbing her, I said “Oh that’s okay. I can call back when you are feeling better.”  And then she said, “I don’t think I am going to get better… you’d better tell me now.”  “What”? I thought, Sharon is supposed to move in a few days!   I quickly explained that I had made her Manicotti… that she could share it with a friend or her daughter… and that is when she said, “I think you’ve got the wrong number.  My name is ______ _______. ”  Immediately I apologized profusely for disturbing her… and then the call was over.

Oh my.  I felt awful.  I’d accidentally called an acquaintance, which is not hard to do in a small town, and I had just found out that she was not well.  What do I do?  What would you do?

The easy thing to do would have been to let it go… say a prayer wishing her well and go on with my life.  And for a few days, I tried just that.  Finally yesterday I gave in to the desire to do something to show that I cared by preparing a pie.  I didn’t think that she would be able to eat it necessarily, but she’d said that she was being cared for by others, so I knew that there would be someone there that she could offer it to.

When the pie was done, I looked up the address and drove over to my friend’s neighborhood.  The house was dark, and I knocked softly.   There was no answer so I left the pie on her doorstep. After I got back home, I called and left a message on her machine explaining that I was the “wrong number” from the other day…offered my apology again… and any assistance that she might need.

A while later my phone rang and it was my friend calling to thank me for the “still warm” pie.  We talked for a few minutes and without asking she shared her very serious diagnosis and her fears.  My heart ached for her… because of what she faces… and because I had no answers.  All I could offer her was my concern… and food, whenever she wanted it.   She thanked me again, and after a few more minutes, we said goodbye.

Even though I cannot fix anything for my friend, I am glad that I followed my instinct to reach out.  Though it is painful to know that she is suffering, I have shown her in my own way that I care.  Henceforth, I will keep her in my prayers, hope for a miracle, and be thankful for the mistake that brought me such a rare and meaningful opportunity.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

November Musings: Loss, Limitations, Public Radio, and Birthdays

1 Nov

Last week I catered the annual memorial celebration for Ashland Community Hospital Hospice at the Ashland Community Center.  The room was decorated with twinkling lights, soft music played, and candles glowed inside paper bags with butterfly cutouts – each with the name of a loved one lost.   It was a beautiful way to honor those who have died in the last year and I was thankful to be a part of it.

After the celebration, I packed up the few leftovers and headed home.  As I approached the plaza area I noticed a group of young people sitting together – one of them holding a sign that read “Looking for a Helping Hand.”  As soon as I could, I pulled my car over and gathered up cookies, a pitcher of hot cider, a few paper cups, and walked over to the group.

As I approached the group, I was a tiny bit fearful of how my gesture would  be received because these kids have been living on the streets and perhaps have become jaded.  I shouldn’t have worried because as I gave out the cookies and cider I was met with grateful smiles and sweet comments.  When I reached the young man who had been holding the sign, I saw that he was missing a hand and also noticed his beautiful, clear blue eyes.

After I left the young people, I drove home thinking about that young man.   I often ponder what life events lead a person to choosing to live on the streets.  Did he learn that he was “less than perfect” from his family of origin?  Or was it something he decided on his own.  Will he ever find his true potential or has he given up forever?

I’ve been haunted (no seasonal pun intended) by that young man all week and then yesterday I was sent this link and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (like I must have been) you probably have already seen it.  It is the audition of a young man named Emmanuel for the show The X Factor.  This young man and his brother were born in a war zone in Iraq and left at an orphanage as toddlers.  And fortunately they were lucky to be adopted by a family who helped them see a world of possibilities instead of limitations.

We all face roadblocks or limitations in our lives, and many of them are self-imposed.  Perhaps we hear voices from the past telling us we are not good enough… or that we will never make it… or that we are unlovable.   Many of us have supportive friends and family who help us move past these stumbling blocks, while others  do not.  And still I am wondering, what can we do to reach out and help?  I don’t have the answer… but would love to work with others towards one.  I’ve been lucky… and want to pay that forward as best I can.

Apple Almond Pie for Jefferson Public Radio

Oh.  This blog is supposed to be about pies… Well, I did manage to give away a pie last week as well.  During the pledge drive,  I delivered an Apple Almond Pie to the folks at Jefferson Public Radio.  I am so grateful for the on-air staff (Maria Kelly, Brad Ranger, Eric Teel) and the behind the scenes folks (especially Sue Jaffe) who work tirelessly to bring us the news, information and music we enjoy.  You guys are awesome!

Finally, I want to send heavenly birthday wishes on this day to my dear friend Irene Orselli and to my Grandpa Powell… and chocolatey birthday wishes to Bob Edwards!

I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.  ~Mother Teresa

 

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