Random Thoughts On Humanness: Hump Day

July 28, 2010 at 11:51 pm (Hump Day: Mid-week Musings) (, , , )

So, it is Wednesday again. And, there have been some things to ponder in the goings on of late. For example, Scin and I both have strong feelings about finding a place of worship with which we are comfortable and in which we can be ourselves…appropriately, of course. So, we tried a local church when she and her son were down in February and we went back again once we got her basically moved into the new house.

Now, this place [nameless as we don’t know who reads me…] describes itself as open and affirming. And, indeed, they are that. However, our experiences with them have raised within me the following question: is there a point at which acceptance becomes a form of discrimination? And, then, if there is a place in interactive exchange where acceptance becomes a brand of discrimination, where is that point; what defines that line in the sand of interaction? I should, perhaps, explain.

The church has a clear open and affirming stance and everyone is highly supportive of that. They reach out almost aggressively–which, itself, is uncomfortable. We were showered with acceptance. We were invited here and there and met with introductions to the point of feeling as if we were the long-lost survivors of a ship wreck, suddenly rescued and were being seen in public for the first time. I began to feel like an oddity. This feeling was increased by the fact that they are so affirming that there is a LGBT group within the church that holds social events that are also meetings for planning this, that and the other thing. In addition, time is set aside for “studying” what it is to be same-sex oriented, how that relates to being a child of God, and/or how it impacts our lives to be Gay or Lesbian. Topics and the gatherings themselves are all about being queer. This would not be so bad except that these events are essentially segregated from other church events. It is very much as if we and the acceptance of our ilk represent some kind of project. It is as if we are special in some odd way that is not so good. I was waiting for them to start passing out special hats and ID bracelets. Add to this the almost boundaryless way of greeting and inviting you in and it begins to feel very strange.

Scin and I gave it our best effort at church and at the LGBT cook out thingy. And, we even went to the minor league baseball game with the group. However, we came away from all these events feeling uncomfortable. We talked about feeling like a project. We talked about the almost needy and desperate lack of boundaries these people displayed as they reached out to bring us into the fold. We discussed being recruited, how it feels like they are trying to beef up the congregate and reaching out to the queers might be a good way to keep the doors open. We talked about not wanting everything to be about being gay. We talked about how what we want is to be seen as fellow humans, as people who just happen to be lesbians. We processed feeling like we are special and not in a good way when everything is about our sexual orientation. All of this set me thinking about layers of discrimination. And, it set me thinking about the possibility that we were not the only ones being sold short or minimized by that level of so-called acceptance.

I wonder. Do we not minimize and distort the range of human diversity and individuality as well when we single out a group with such acceptance that we segregate them from the greater community? Is not that level of acceptance as harmful as identifying that group as somehow wrong or unnatural or evil…or otherwise less than others? And, do we not harm any hope of true human equality if we elevate the minority at the segregation of the majority? If any group accepts us by focusing on and agrandizing our sexual orientation, does that not minimize our overall human commonalities and individuality as people? My gut feeling is that the answer to all of these question is a resounding “yes.”

I may be wrong-headed here, but I believe that there is a point where claiming acceptance of a group only serves to further separate them from the “family of things” [as Mary Oliver would say]. I cannot speak for others, but I can say what I have strived for and desire as a person of same-sex orientation. What I want is to be seen as a fellow human being on the path of being an actualized human being and doing so in the greater community of other human beings. My sexuality is not the only aspect of who I am; it does not define me any more than having green eyes or being right-handed defines me. It is a biological fact of my personhood the same way as those other aspects of self. It is not all that I am. To single out that aspect of my existence is to lessen all the others. It also, sadly, lessens my heterosexual fellow humans; it reduces them to being merely heterosexuals as I am reduced to being a lesbian. This a natural outcome, however, of the human tendency to focus on differences rather than commonalities.

It is, actually, part of our biological preparedness for survival to discriminate, to distinguish differences, and to notice when things are possibly amiss. Biologically speaking, it is part of the hard-wired visual, olfactory and auditory survival instincts we were given to identify things in the environment such as resources and threats. It is also a facet of the serotonergically linked process of herding. It is a necessary set of abilities. However, as we have evolved as a species, the need for this ability has changed. Intellectually, and psychologically, we have been slow to adapt to the changes. We do not discriminate between safe nuts and berries anymore; we discriminate between types of people.

For me, the task of equality for all humans is about creating opportunities for all of us to learn more about the process of being human, of becoming people, and all the many ways that is, always, both a universal and individual process. And, how wonderful that is. There is more in our experiences as humans learning to be people that is common, and bonds us as such, than there is difference. How truly miraculous it would be if we could advance ourselves a little bit toward recognition of this.  I do not want to be seen as special in some way that ultimately makes me feel freakish. I would like to be part of a community of people who see me as they would see themselves, not as a person who is lesbian. I would like to be seen as a person with many facets, qualities, strengths and limitations, gifts and likes and dislikes. Is that not what it is to be a child of God? I don’t know. Perhaps I am mistaken.

Regardless, these are the things I have been thinking about. Maybe I have more questions than I do answers. So, next Sunday, we will go some place different. I know the right place is out there and I feel sure we will find it. At the very least, we know what we don’t want and that is half the discernment process. We are looking for common ground, not special ground. 

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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The Spirit of Things

April 4, 2010 at 11:40 am (The Spirit of Things) (, , )

A Matter of Faith:

It is Spring.  All around us, there are the signs of a world in regeneration–a coming alive of all things after the winter waiting time, a resurrection of all that lay in slumber during the dying time.  We feel it too.  Our awareness and experience of this rebirth varies from person to person, yet the need to feel connected to the process, to the coming alive within and without, is present in all of us.  We reach into the dirt, cultivate and plant. Or, we buy cut flowers.  We tend our yards.  We go to the park and walk. Or, we pull the motorcycles–or bicycles, or both–out of the winter storage and we ride.  We open our windows.  We sit on the porch and drink in the growing sun, the blooming around us, the birds and squirrels and, yes, the rabbits.  Whatever we do, we are on some level aware that the change has come, that we too are waking and are renewed.

This is an ancient process–the basis of all ancient religions that celebrate a way of life based upon the belief that all things are connected, that we and the earth, its cycles and processes, are essentially tied to one another in an endless turning of generation, birth, death, regeneration and rebirth.  It is no accident that the believed resurrection of the Christ occurs in the Spring.  It is all literal, metaphoric, allegoric and psychologically powerful stuff.  No matter what else is happening in our lives, most all of us feel the instinctive, subconscious pull of the process of rebirth.  We feel lighter, more energized and tend to be better able to cope with and move through the other things in our daily lives in the presence of all that is Spring.  For many people, this is the basis of their faith.  It is for me as well, but not in the conventional ways you might expect.

Without getting too involved, let me say that my concept of God is…well…nearly heretical in the eyes of some.  No doubt there will be more about that as I write here.  But for now, I will simply say that my view of God is bigger than dogma, religion, or the common anthropomorphic ideas of God.  My view of God is living and breathing and rooted in physics, the commonalities of all religions, the cycles and processes of the universe around us, and some basic universal truths about the human experience.  And, it is rooted in my personal experience. Things others would view as synchronicity, serendipity or plain old happenstance.  My experience of God changes as I change.  While I do not believe in the currently popular view of God as some puppet-like magician simply waiting to give us whatever we ask for, I do believe that God moves in our lives.  Within us.  In cocreativity with us.  I am panentheistic.  And, I believe the action is internal.  I also believe that what we think about and turn our mental energy to, we manifest.

These are things that have come up in discussion of late between my friends and I, and between Scin and I.  People wonder how I can continue to have faith that all will be well, that forces are moving around and within us, that God is active, and that more will be revealed when I am dealing with such difficult circumstances.  As are the people close to me.  People ask:  how can you believe that a loving God is taking care of you when you have been job-hunting for over two years, your health concerns are unresolved, your mom’s house still has not sold, and the things you need do not seem to be appearing?  These observations are correct.  There has been struggle and uncertainty.  In addition, Scin and I are struggling with significant circumstances:  financial concerns, securing housing for them so they can move, difficulties related to being apart–for now–and trying to plan, while also trying to keep faith that somehow all will be well.  Struggle abounds.

So, my response to all of this is simple, really.  My entire life has provided me with examples of the care I receive from a benevolent universe and an active, present power greater than myself.  Greater than our conceptions.  Greater than doctrines.  If I look back on events that at first seem to be bad, not what I thought I needed or, for that matter, wanted, I can see how I was saved from something worse by things not going as I thought they should.  I can see how events were unfolding in ways that led to other things, that were better in the long run, that–once more was revealed–carried greater gifts for me than what I expected.  Also, good things happen every day.  My reunion with Scin is an example.

This, to me, is the action of God in communion and cocreation with us.  This, to me, is like the metaphor of Spring.  All seems dark, dead and stagnant until Spring comes and we see that things were at work, doing wonderous things, unseen and in their own time.  Spring is the point in the year when what was unseen becomes revealed.  Much of the action in our lives is this way:  internal, unseen, connected to other forces and processes, and is obvious only at the moment of its flowering.

Now, you could say that what you have read here is simply the expression of the obvious influence of perspective, of how one chooses to view things over which one has no control and how one mentally processes events and daily life.  And, to that I exclaim a resounding: yes; you are correct.  And, isn’t that what faith is–belief without tangible evidence, conviction without immediate proof, a set of beliefs to which one is committed, a mindset?  The issue is not simply the mindset, but how one comes to have this perspective and to be committed to it.  Experience, in conjunction with willingness to examine and interpret the experience, is the origin of the mindset.  I believe we are, indeed, transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  By the way, this kind of thinking–as some of you know–is the basis of Eastern traditions, Pagan traditions, and, interestingly, behavioral science and the majority of physics.  In fact, there is a vast compilation of science to suggest that “mindset” or expectation–that is thought–is a physical force.  So, perhaps, faith is not conviction without evidence.

For example, if we study light as particles, that is how it behaves; if we study it as waves, that, too, is how it behaves.  Expectation, or the perspective of the experimenter, influences the thing being studied.  Thus, how we view our lives influences the unfolding of our lives.  Similarly, how we view God, or view our spirituality, determines how we experience our spiritual selves and our lives.  This perspective, like Spring, is a turning–a shifting of our view, an expectation from which is birthed the evidence. 

So, yes.  I have faith the things are going to be, both, as they should be in the scheme of things, and OK as well.  I believe that I will continue to have what I need, if not always what I want.  I believe that, like the bulbs that were lying in wait, there will be important gifts and growth in my struggles.  I believe that this time of uncertainty carries within it the seeds of the new, as yet unseen, budding of myself, others and our lives.  I believe that Scin and I will have the things we need to build our lives together.  I believe our reunion and the growing thing that is our relationship is a gift.  I receive it gladly.  I believe that things move and unfold in our lives in ways that work toward what is suitable to our individual selves and provides us with opportunities for our best interest.  And, I believe more will be revealed.

Finally, I believe that my role in my spiritual walk is simple.  It is mine to do what is in front of me, to tend to what I can and take responsibility for my choices, actions and my life.  It is also mine to tend the garden of my thinking–to be mindful of my life, my thoughts and perspectives, my actions and my participation in my relationships to my spiritual self, others, and my God.  It is mine to tend to the turning of my sight.  It is also mine to view myself as a valuable and to believe in myself as I am and as I am becoming.  If I believe that God is in all things and all things are in God, then God is in me as well and I need to trust the tools, talents, and abilities I have been given–and trust they have purpose.  I view others in the same way.  We are all connected, all part of the spirit of things.  We are all waking, slumbering, and waking again.  Each day, we are all being reborn, resurrected.  It is Spring, eternal.  That is enough for me.

NOTE:  This work is published here as proprietary and may not be reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise utilized outside the posting on this site without the express permission of the author; these works are the sole property of the author writing as Androgynonamous or DreadPirateRobert.

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