Friday, December 26, 2014

The greatest gift of all

Reason for the season?
Sometimes in the flurry of holiday
mania we forget what we're really
celebrating. I find the frenzy leading
up to the main event more than a
distraction. Between the pressures
of decorating, entertaining, and gift
shopping - it's hard to keep in mind
that this season is all about love.
Add the inter dynamics of family and
one can easily become a scrooge over
night. Fortunately when we become
more than jaded - suddenly something
can still jolt us back to reality.
Over and out
This year has been tough. A series of
circumstances at our Catholic Parish
caused us to leave the church. Since
then many former Catholics have
been searching as they process what
happened this summer. As you may
recall, two beloved parishioners were
cast out simply because they were gay
and married. The resulting rift in what
was once one spiritual body caused
many to question their relationship
with the church. Sadly what God had
once joined was now asunder.
Torn between two lovers
The impact on our family has truly
been challenging. What once united
us now divides us. As Christmas Eve
came around - each of us had to make
a very emotional and personal choice
about where to worship. Now part of
our local Episcopal parish, I took my
commitment to an even deeper level
and joined the choir. Whereas Frank
opted out as he processed the impact
of errant organized religion on his
faith. Where was God and why did
it seem that he had forsaken us?
Gone but not forgotten
After Christmas Eve dinner at our home
I rushed off to sing my heart out. It was
dark and stormy yet my newfound oasis
beckoned through the snow. As I sat in
the pew waiting for the service to begin,
I couldn't help but mourn what was lost.
Once we celebrated the season together.
Now we went our separate ways. How
sad that the arrogant actions on one man
of God could cause such pain. Trying to
forget the past I prayed and meditated -
thanking God for his blessings and my
partner who loves me no matter what.
A gift from God
In time the choir stood up to sing.
Facing the congregation, I looked
out at the faces of refugees from
judgmental conservatism. It felt as
if God had led us all to the shelter of
Saint James church. I couldn't help
but be touched, humbled, and most
grateful for this safe haven of equality
and acceptance. Then suddenly, I saw
an even more familiar face in the last
row of the church. Quietly my better
half had slipped in to join all of us as
we celebrated the most holy season.
Reason to celebrate
I struggled to sing as I choked back
tears of joy. That's because I knew
how much of effort and emotion it
took for Frank to cross that portal.
More important - he was honoring
both God and me. Often the best
things in life are free. While we all
crave "things" - love is the most
precious gift of all. Frank's presence
in that place was a sacrifice, much
like the child whose birth we were
celebrating that night. Miracles do
still happen on Christmas Eve!