Friday, April 06, 2007


For those of you who can still remember my agonized journey through Lent last year, this year's obsession with a muscle bear must seem a startling change of pace. While it's true that I have been much removed from church for a variety of reasons, there is nothing like a hard date like Good Friday to turn your head to the Bigger Picture.

This is what I posted last year, starting with a quote from some poor blogger who got my dander up:

I have hope, faith, trust. But the opposite of faith is not doubt, it is certainty. I know, somehow, some day, some way, I must face the terror, the darkness, the abyss. But I do not face it alone.

The opposite of faith is neither doubt nor certainty; both pronouncements are too easy and too comforting to our hope to avoid of the cost of real life. To me, Jesus is the man who was always ahead of us, remains ahead of us in revealing the world to us; that means that the hour of utter humanity and suffering was in Gethsemane. The words on the cross, so endlessly repeated today as the depth of suffering and abandonment, are the beginning words of Psalm 22, and you have only to read it through to the end to know that in that darkest hour, he already KNEW what would happen. His faith was great enough to utter it when it must have seemed madness even to those who loved him most. There is an ancient Jewish tradition that to speak the opening line of a psalm means to put the whole of it in discussion; I believe with every fiber of my being that such was his intent -- witness the otherwise bizarre replication of the vision of the Psalm in the actual events described at the foot of the cross.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
In you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads:
"Commit your cause to the LORD; let him deliver you;
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!"
Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother's breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs are all around me; company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled; I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O LORD, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,but heard when I cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD.
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him. Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that he has done it.

But Gethsemane is where he is completely ours, at least until that final moment where he leans over into saying "not my will, but yours, be done". That is where humanity ends, and divinity begins. The rest of the week is just revelation to the rest of us. He crosses over in the garden.

So, meanwhile, back in 2007:

Gethsemane has just not been much on my mind of late. I refused to follow a number of my Catholic co-workers into Lent as I have done in the past; it seemed like too much of my life had been Lent in recent memory to go through it again. But the absence of Gethsemane speaks volumes. I seem to have crossed over. Turned a page. Come out the other side of all the hand-wringing and weeping. All that has stopped. It's true it's been replaced by the moaning in public and debilitating waves of overwhelming desire, but even that is a positive development. I think.

And thereby hangs a tale.

I may not like my new life much. It may not look great compared to what I gave up to get it. But it is definitely a new life, whether the love that gets me up in the morning is returned in any measure at all, let alone reciprocated. I believe I have posted before that there is usually a degree of assymetry to relationships, and that therefore the exceptions should be cherished. It is simply true, and I am having it engraved on my flesh as I type. Not easy, but it's really OK.

I owe the Silver Fox a lot, and he has been patient and kind -- not qualities that you run across on every street corner. The only other thing I can ask for is
honesty, and I think that to date I have gotten enough of it to sting. That's OK, too. He has been a gift of God in every sense.

I sent him another poem. If he is still as negative about them as he used to be, he is keeping it under wraps -- I hope not. It's an area of some tenderness, as the verses do spring pretty much directly from the heart. He, poor soul, gets all the first drafts; I usually do all the revision after hitting the "send" button...

So I am off to the Shrine tomorrow, by way of a morning work meeting thoughtfully scheduled in a town almost exactly halfway between us. (So I will even get mileage for half the trip at any rate.) Well, it is no longer a first encounter, so it will be different. But as I said the last time, however it turns out, it will be good.

I do believe that.

Some time in the future I will get over the Silver Fox and find someone who is free, and perhaps even a leetle less critical of my physical qualifications to be a gay man. Then this new life might have a future in it for me. But the present is not so bad. It is enough.

This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.


  1. It struck me one day years ago that the whole scriptural saga of boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl of God's relationship with his creation is bookended by two gardens: eden, where despite its paradisical appointments is where disobedience and loss occurred, and Gethsemane, the place of agony, where obedience and restoration was finally accomplished. I like your idea that it is in Gethsemane where the real denouement takes place...

  2. Joe:

    there is another garden, and it lies at the heart of the New Jerusalem as it descends, decked out like a bride for her bridegroom.
    Gethsemane is the hinge at the middle!


  3. Having read your wonderful blog and links I think you would be hugely interested to read my e-book "An Ordinary Black Cat" in