I noticed something last night as I walked to the yurt to go to bed. I noticed that I have become more and more familiar with the night sky. Every evening I look up, I am now recognizing stars and constellations, I may not know their name, but I’m getting to know them. I am noticing details about the moon and this star or that star. Where it is the dipper tonight? Last night it hit me as I looked at a triangle that caught my eye about four nights ago that now I have seen that triangle every night, I feel affection toward it. Like, Hi again, here we are. As I read this I worry if it sounds like I’ve lost my mind.
I’ve never felt familiar with the sky, I have always felt familiar with the earth, trees, grass, ocean and animals but the sky has seemed too big, too overwhelming to explore, until now. Now it seems part of my intimate life, part of my inner and outer world. I have become acutely aware that I am paying attention to things I had really never given much thought about. There is a familiarity I feel now, but it’s always moving, we’re always moving.
One thing farming has given me and taught me is to pay attention. Pay attention to the wind, the forecast the changes in daylight hours, soil temperature, the sounds, the rain, the humidity. Farming has taught me to see as much as my eyes can let in, and while I’m looking my brain is engaged. Farming has taught me to be present. When I started a zen meditation practice I realized that I already had developed some tools of attention, so my zen practice felt natural. But my practice has helped to develop what I do with the information I receive, which did not feel natural. How would I react to what I was seeing yet had no control over?
Over time I have eluded to some kind of spiritual practice, but I have felt like not only is that a deeply personal matter but one I’ve been on the fence about for some time now. It’s uncomfortable for me to confront my lack of clarity and biases of religious life and spirituality. I’ve been very angry about religion equating it to the opposite of good, rather closer to evil doing. The polarizing conversations about abortion or women’s rights and gay marriage, immigration, poverty and taxes has separated me and caused me to look at religion as an us against them scenario and I just can’t accept that. I know there are bad folks out there that mean others harm, but I also know that the majority of people are trying to do good. I think it’s fair to say that we are all in many ways operating and navigating this life through our own personal experience and of course the influence of those around us.
I welcome learning and exploring things that I don’t understand. I am not interested in being right or proving anyone wrong, but I am interested in challenging my own ideas and thoughts. Tonight I am starting a series of classes called interreligious understanding at Philips Theological Seminary. I am really looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the wildly diverse and rich religious communities that exist in our lives. I do recognize that my hopes are that I will see more good, more commonalities more reasons to love that to separate. I’m hoping to learn that not all people of religious faiths want to bring me suffering and pain because I am gay. That, I too can share the sacredness of living on this planet.
One thing I have come to learn about myself, when I think I'm really really right...well, usually I was wrong.