“Be who you are,” she reminded him.

One of the things I like doing on this blog is sharing stories of women who show up and make a difference, just by being who they are.  With tongue only slightly in cheek, I refer to them as “real virgins,” because they fulfill that original meaning of the word “virgin,” a term which had nothing to do with physiology. A virgin was someone who was undefined by any human relationship; she was one-in-herself, whole, complete, intact, un-fragmented, un-captured, self-governed. She looked to no other human for authority to think and act according to her highest sense of good.

My friend and mentor (coincidentally, her name is Virginia, but I call her Ginny in my book) posted an entry on her blog today, recounting a story which is ancient, but has relevance today. All these problems in the Middle East — it’s HISTORY, amigos, tribal history. Whether or not one says she “believes” in the Bible, it is a book full of tribal history, history that is verified through other sources and channels. If you don’t know any ancient history scholars, just look to the folks at The History Channel, right?

If you take the time or have the inclination to browse through what Christians call the Old Testament, but is also known as The Hebrew Scriptures, you can  get an inkling of the longstanding nature of the problems still plaguing the “Holy Land.” Plays well with others, was not a prominent character trait in most  tribal leaders. But as Lynne Bundesen makes clear in her excellent book The Feminine Spirit: Recapturing the Heart of Scripture, at every crucial point, showing up at every step of spiritward progress in the biblical narrative, there was always a woman, listening, forgiving, giving counsel, sometimes taking direct action on her own. In her blog today Ginny recounts the story of Abigail, who saved not-yet-king David from the dark side. Abigail was a “real virgin.” The world could use more of those these days. Want to volunteer? Well, read about Abigail first. You can do that here.

Hola, Spain — again

We returned from Spain and Portugal June 2, and I’m just now going through the photos I took on the journey. I sort of disappeared from Facebook after that last post without an adios or a by-your-leave. Fact was that on the third day in Spain, I had a close encounter with a castle floor, so I wasn’t into a lot of commentary or taking of selfies during the rest of the trip. But I kept the camera clicking as we moved through the major sites on the itinerary. It’s nice going back and seeing where we were, even posting a few reviews on TripAdvisor. I’m all fully recovered now, able to speak lightly of the whole thing and ready to start posting more than an occasional lurking “like.” Missed you, FB buddies!

Hola, Spain!

I would have titled this Hola, Espana, but as you can see, I still don’t know how to put  a tilde on those “n’s” that require one.  After two weeks on the Liberty of the Seas, Larry and I are ready to explore the Spain I’ve read about all my life.  And since it has taken me fifteen minutes to write those first two sentences of this post, I will wait for more responsive internet to let you know more. Hasta luego!

Here’s the News Coverage

 Further to my last post, here are links to the news coverage of the Marriage Vows in Mexico City. These stories appear in today’s San Angelo Standard Times.

Marriage Vows in Mexico City

A good friend of mine, Joseph Lown, has a public face. Because of that, his private problems are now public. He has reconciled himself to this, because the issues he is dealing with are more common than most in the U.S. would think.  He has chosen to step out and be featured, while still protecting the identity of his partner and his partner’s family. You can read one of many articles about him and his situation here. He is also featured in a recent book, Amor and Exile. Read more about that here.

When the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last summer, it offered the possibility of my friend’s return to the United States, specifically to Texas. That’s where his Libertarian-leaning, red-Republican, ranch-owning, FOX News-watching heart is tethered. He and I are so not on the same page in so many ways. But it was my great honor to be a participant and facilitator when Joseph and his partner “made it official” earlier this month in Mexico City. There was a reporter there, as well as a photojournalist from The San Angelo Standard Times, a Scripps-Howard newspaper so there will be more newspaper articles appearing, probably in the next week or so. What I’m sharing here are the remarks I made after the Mexico City judge performed the civil ceremony.

Wedding Service – November 16, 2013

We are here to celebrate the legal and civil union of _________ and Joseph Wendel Lown, who were formally engaged on October 13, of this year. But their commitment to one another goes back much farther. On May 19, 2009, they crossed the southern border of the United States, and came to live in Mexico.  Much has been written about their situation. We who are here now, know what their love has cost them in the public arena. We are here to affirm with them that it has been worth the price.

Crossing borders, leaving behind old ways to align ourselves with what we know to be something better, is a familiar circumstance in the world today.  Refugee camps have become permanent fixtures in many places. Both Mexico and the United States, have rich histories of offering comfort and refuge to those displaced by fear and hatred. If it seems that, as Jesus foretold, iniquity abounds, and the love of many has waxed cold, then our job is to love more. We are here today to turn up the flame.

We long to be where love lives, and we are attracted above all, to those who love God foremost. Ruth recognized that quality in her mother-in-law, Naomi, and expressed her determination not to lose sight of it when Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem. Ruth pleaded,

Intreat me not to leave thee, or return from following after thee. For whither thou goest, I will go, and where thou lodgest, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God, my God. Where thou diest, I will die, and there shall I be buried. The Lord do so to me and more also, if ought but death part me and thee.

The greatest desire held in the heart of every human being is the yearning to be their own true and authentic self. God wants us to be what He created us to be. When we mirror that desire, it is a prayer. There is no greater gift we can offer another than to support and cherish that desire. So, we are gathered here, in prayer and support, not only for Joseph and ______, but in desire for ourselves, as well. It is only through being our authentic selves that we are able to help and support them.

The word “desire” literally means “from the stars.” We “hitch our wagon to a star” when we reach for something beyond what others might think we need, or deserve, or even be entitled to. It is an anomaly that with our reaching outward and upward from our authentic selves, we do not find ourselves disconnected, but rather entwined and concerned more with our fellow beings. We find ourselves in Love.

The Sufi poet Rumi writes, “The stars come up spinning every night, bewildered in love. They would grow tired with that revolving if they weren’t. They’d say, ‘How long do we have to do this!”

Love, and especially that love we share with a particular and life-long partner, does indeed make the world go round. It transforms our lives into a mirror of those revolving stars, a reflection of the infinite and eternal Love itself, which holds us all in its holy sphere. It changes the question from “How long do we have to do this,” to “How long do we get to do this!” The conventional answer, the conventional vow, is “until death do us part.”

With that in mind, I’d like to read some passages from Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, the book written by Mary Baker Eddy which, along with the Bible, was the guide with which Joseph’s mother raised him. I’m familiar with it, because I was raised with it, too. The author offers counsel in the chapter titled “Marriage.”

Be not in haste to take the vow, “until death do us part.” Consider its obligations, its responsibilities, its relations to your growth, and to your influence on other lives.

 Marriage should signify a union of hearts. 

 Union of the masculine and feminine qualities constitutes completeness. The masculine mind reaches a higher tone through certain elements of the feminine, while the feminine mind gains courage and strength through masculine qualities. These different elements conjoin naturally with each other, and their true harmony is in spiritual oneness. Both sexes should be loving, pure, tender, and strong.

 Furthermore, the time cometh of which Jesus spake when he declared that in the resurrection, there should be no more marrying nor giving in marriage, but man would be as the angels. Then white-robed purity will unite in one person, masculine wisdom and feminine love, spiritual understanding and perpetual peace.

 Experience should be the school of virtue, and happiness should proceed from man’s highest nature. May Christ, Truth, be present at every bridal altar to change the water into wine, and to give to human life an inspiration by which man’s spiritual and eternal existence may be discerned.

In the spirit of communion, we here collectively offer our support to you, our prayers for you, Joseph and ______. We are your friends. We are your family. We will be there for you.

Now, if any individual wishes to declare that support and love, this is your opportunity.

(…………………..remarks from the floor.)

I will close, reading once more from Rumi,

 God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.

Each note is a need coming through one of us, 

A passion, a longing-pain.

 Remember the lips where the reed breath originated,

And let your note be clear.

Don’t try to end it.

Be your note.

I’ll show you how it’s enough.

 Go up on the roof at night

In this city of the soul.

 Let everyone climb on their roofs and sing their notes!

 Sing loud!

And again from Mary Baker Eddy,

A louder song, sweeter than has ever before reached high heaven, now rises clearer and nearer the great heart of Christ, for the accuser is not there, and Love sends forth her primal and everlasting strain.

 

Poetically speaking, she nails it

Wow, I remember starting questions with, “Sorry…” This girl at least recognizes her tendency to do that.  OK? Let’s start to NOT do that.

https://www.upworthy.com/watch-a-student-totally-nail-something-about-women-that-ive-been-trying-to-articulate-for-37-years-6?c=upw1

Hope for High Wind

I admit it. I subscribe to all those “liberal” newsfeeds and mailing lists, like UPWORTHY, CREDO, Ultraviolet, BBC, NPR, The New York Times. And lately, distressed by the stalemate in Washington, I’ve posted links from these on FB. And, surprise, surprise, I’ve gotten retaliating comments from “conservative” friends, and friends of their friends. The most recent was a link to a 1961 recording of Ronald Reagan talking about the evils of socialized medicine.

Yep, I remember hearing this. it was an LP record, and my folks invited groups of friends over to listen to it. They were never shy about their politics. I was in sixth grade and that commie pinko John F. Kennedy had just been elected. The country was going to hell in a hand basket.  I also remember how LIVID my mother got at me in August 1976, when right before the Republican convention, I commented that wasn’t it something to be grateful for that we had three good and honest men to choose from to lead the country. Jimmy Carter had already been selected by the Democrats, and the Republicans were to choose between Gerald Ford and Reagan. I could have been happy enough with any of them. But for my mom it was Reagan, Reagan, only Reagan. She was devastated when Ford was tapped to run against Carter.

Before going to Oklahoma City with Mom to visit Mama Hope that August, I had just come through a bout of shingles. I found that it was imperative that I NOT become worked up about politics. It wasn’t just politics. I had some personal issues, but if my thought became inflamed about anything, that horrible rash would reappear.  I had spent the summer mostly in bed, learning to control my thinking. Barely able to move, I learned concentrated mindfulness. I spent days and nights consciously identifying myself, everyone I knew, and every detail around me in terms of spiritual qualities.  For example, the redbud tree outside the bedroom window became a metaphor for vibrancy, flexibility, growth, development, It gently responded to the summer breeze, and I tried to emulate that responsiveness, bending my thought to that of the Holy Spirit wind that seemed to be blowing through my whole experience. This mindfulness was as effective as an electric fence. I literally had to corral every angry, disruptive thought and replace it with something kind and loving. A knee-jerk mental reaction would lead to an immediate physical reaction in my body. It was a heck of a discipline.

Eventually Mom got her wish, and both she and I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980.  Honestly, I don’t even know how Larry voted. I still had some of that discipline left from 1976.

In the mid-80’s Larry and I moved to California. “Don’t go out there and get all weird on us,” counseled our West Texas friends. Does getting weird include making friends with Democrats, people who actually went to Berkeley, who voted for Alan Cranston? And, son of a gun, they had neither horns nor tails, and nary a pitchfork in sight. I found them to be deeply caring and loving people. Just like my Republican friends back in Texas, and all the other Republican friends I soon made in South Orange County.

And that’s where I need to go now — back to that sense of loving and caring. From a distance here in Mexico, surrounded by an admittedly liberal enclave of expat Americans and Canadians (you know, those socialists), listening to the echo chamber of my chosen “news” sources, as — please admit it — we all tend to do these days, it’s easy to become reactionary. Responsiveness, not reaction, is what I need right now. No more links. So bring it on — a good clean gust of Holy Spirit wind to carry me upward in thought, to carry us all upward and outward, even though in the whirlwind we may be 180 degrees apart.