It’s interesting. The past two weeks have held a lot of meaning for me. The wedding allowed me to connect with some new friends, create connections with people H has history with that I had never met before, and gave me a level of confidence I think I had been lacking. I’m normally fairly quiet in a group of people I don’t know. Once I know you, I’ll talk your ear off, but I’m fairly socially reserved if I am among strangers. I’m quite content to be a wallflower in those situations. But I managed to feel very comfortable both with people H knew and I didn’t, and with people neither of us knew well at all. And I’m thankful to say that I think some decent friendships may be in their infancy, which is nice.
Concurrently, my reconnection with our church has provided me with another outlet that I hadn’t anticipated. Our church is the home to a chapter of Integrity, which is a national organization for LGBT Episcopalians. I had yet to become involved, both because neither of us has been much involved at church beyond Sunday morning attendance, which has been spotty at best, and also because it was fairly evident the group was not nearly as active as one might hope. Early this past week, I finally emailed the contact on the web page to see what was going on with the chapter, and what I could do to become involved. I got a short email back about how the group was sort of in a holding pattern, and waiting to see what was going to come out of the General Convention (happening this week in Anaheim – an meeting of the National Episcopal Church, discussing things such as same-sex marriage blessings, among many other issues affecting the Church at large.) I sent a reply, and threw out the following: “Is there room for another organizer in your midst?” And I got a resounding “yes!” from S, a wonderful man who has been running the group. He invited me to a meeting the following evening – one bringing together LGBT people from many Christian denominations in order to plan a retreat to talk about our place in Christianity and our various houses of worship.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got there. But our little group had a lot of big ideas. And I’m already so excited to be a part of this group, and looking forward to the amazing things we will plan for this retreat next Spring. After the meeting, S asked me to stay and chat for a few moments, and a few moments turned into a half hour. And it would have gone on longer but for my need to get home to the kids. This amazing man and his husband have been together 26 years. And S has been called to attend Seminary, and as a result won’t have the kind of time to put into Integrity that he would like. And we discussed the kinds of things that needed to happen to make Integrity work again, to work against the complacency that has resulted from the fact that we have an amazing Dean who’s unfailing support of the LGBT community may have many in the congregation believing that Integrity doesn’t have any work to do. And as blessed as we are to have Dean Baker, there IS work to do – S and I agreed on that. So I’m slowly taking a part in what may happen next with Integrity, and I’m nervous and excited about it all at the same time.
And what has naturally progressed from all of this has been a desire to learn. I told H a few months back that I wanted to take a class, but I hadn’t found anything that was truly interesting to me. English? History? Maybe another photography class? Eh. And then I found CDSP, and they have an online continuing education program. I could hardly contain myself. I immediately registered for two classes, one for this Fall and one for the Spring, and I’m hoping for a Winter session one as well. But I found myself nervous about telling H about this. Partly because I was going to have to make sure we could budget in the tuition (oops!) but also because this is a part of myself I am just now discovering, and I wasn’t sure how she would take it. I mean, she was completely supportive when I came home from Wednesday’s meeting and wouldn’t shut up about all the wonderful things we talked about, but this felt bigger than that.
Sitting in the car the other day, I said, “Do you think we can budget in $185 in the next few weeks so I can take this class online through the Seminary?” And she acted as if I had asked if there was room in the budget for milk. It was no big deal. So I asked her, “Are you weirded out by any of this?” And she teased, “What, that you’re becoming a big Bible thumper?” And we giggled. And I said, “You know what I mean.” And she said, “Of course not. Why would I?” And that was the end of the discussion.
I’ve been talking about some of this with a friend of mine, just in exchanging emails, and she asked me yesterday or the day before, ” Is this something you think might lead to a new career or is it more just for the sake of learning at this point?” And at this point – I don’t have an answer. I keep perusing the CDSP website and lamenting the cost of tuition. And I’m not sure what any of it means. And I want so badly to sit down with Dean Baker and ask him how he knew it was the right path for him. And I feel like that discussion is wildly premature — but it is nagging at me.
So for now, I’m going to take my few classes, ease into my involvement with Integrity, help with this retreat, and see where it leads. There’s a whole post brewing about my growing up, religion, my family, and how I got to this point, but it’s late and I need to formulate some of that more.
But I can say it’s so nice to have my wife’s support in whatever this is turning out to be for me, and I only hope I’ll know what that is when I see it.