A parable: A boy keeps sneaking off into the woods. His father becomes
concerned. One day the father asks the boy, "Why are you spending so
much time in those woods? And the boy replies, "To be closer to God."
"But," says the father, "you don't need to do anything like that to be close to God. God is everywhere. God is no different in the forest than out here in the rest of the world."
"Yes, father," smiles the boy, "but in the woods, *I* am different."
I am heading into the woods.When I was a young boy in the Southern Baptist Church in Arkadelphia, AK, I was drawn to the front of the church during the final call to prayer one Sunday morning. Pastor Kluck leaned in to where I was kneeling at the altar to find out what was wrong; children didn't usually come down.
"I think I'm supposed to be a minister like you," I said very seriously in my ten-year-old voice. "God wants me to help people."
Obviously, I've come a long way in my understanding of Spirit, and my Self, since then. It was a few years later, when puberty was manifesting my sexual orientation, when I finally realized I needed real answers to my questions, not more mythology. Because my real spiritual journey started at the same time as my awareness of my homosexuality, the two have always been intertwined for me.
So much has changed, but I still feel called to serve. I still have faith that I can make a difference.
I've been "serving two masters" ever since I started developing MyOutSpirit.com as a way to consolidate energy and attention to generate sufficient power to shift queer culture toward deep connection, compassion, spiritual growth, sustainability, personal development, and physical, mental and social health. I have always held down a more-then-full-time job while doing my best to build MyOutSpirit.com, and I'm grateful to those jobs - they helped make MyOutSpirit.com possible.
At the same time, "No one can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24), and I am at a liminal point in my personal development where I need to consolidate MY energy and attention to fully manifest this dream I have for my people, my community, my world - and for my life.
So, I'm heading into the woods.
In the parable above, the father and son are both right, of course. As the father says, spirit is everywhere, interpenetrating everything. But the son is right, too, that sometimes solitude and silence and freedom from attachment and distraction are the best way to connect with Spirit. Sometimes you've got to go into the woods to hear God.
I'm not going into the ministry (not that I won't), but I'm also not urgently trying to find a new 2nd job - or a place to live, for that matter. At this point, a new nest also means a whole host of responsibilities and distractions that keep me from my highest Good.
For as long as I can, I am choosing to only be employed serving YOU, the MyOutSpirit community of transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay, intersex, queer sisters and brothers!
I will be selling pretty much everything I own in the next couple of weeks, including all my furniture, many books, some family heirlooms, my comic book collection, my television - all the non-essential STUFF I've accumulated and used to define myself.
My dear friend Chandi has offered to take my dog, P'u ("Pooh," pictured with me above). Giving him up will be the hardest part.
Then, INTO THE WOODS! I plan to hit the road!
I don't know where I'm going first, although I'm overdue to see my family in Austin, Texas. My plan is to visit LGBT communities around the country for a month or so at a time, registering EVERY LGBT-affirming body/mind/spirit resource for MyOutSpirit.com and hiring "Community Builders" to help me. I'll also be organizing "MyOutSpirit Deep Dives" and "Coming Out Day" events wherever I stop. I want to grow MyOutSpirit.com into a vibrant resource for the community, and also help LGBT-affirming resources serve the deep needs of the LGBTQ community, as well as our needs for advocacy.
Not-knowing is strange, but I've discovered that if I lift my foot - by the time I put it down again the next step on this journey has appeared.
I will need places to stay, so if you have a guest room, a parsonage, a couch, an office space, where I can sleep and work, please let me know.
If all you have are hands or prayers, I'll take those, too!
It's like my whole life has led up to this - from ten-year-old boy on his knees in church to my avant-garde sacred dance-theatre company, to Prism Mountain, Soulforce, my book SHIRT OF FLAME, establishing AFSC's Faith Action Network, the Gay Spirit Culture Summit, and MyOutSpirit.com.
I'm heading into the woods. You coming?Love,
Ann Arbor, MI