Sunday, December 15, 2013

Out and About – Autumn 2013

I first began my "Out and About" series in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay Catholic man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the Church and the world. I've continued the series in one form or another every year since – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. This latest installment continues this year's series and covers September thru early December, 2013.

Right: By one of my favorite spots along Minnehaha Creek in south Minneapolis. If I recall correctly, this photo was taken on the first day of autumn – Sunday, September 22.

Left: My good friend and housemate Tim.

I can't tell you how fortunate I am having Tim as both a friend and housemate. He's just a great all-round guy whose integrity, thoughtfulness and generosity I find incredibly inspiring. Here's just one example of what I mean: Months ago I mentioned to Tim how I'd like to gather some friends together for my birthday and attend the James Sewell Ballet's retrospective show. I soon shelved that idea due to lack of finances. But Tim didn't forget it. He secured tickets for the October 25 performance for myself, him and our friend Joan. Needless to say it was a memorable night of celebration and dance – and one for which I have Tim to thank!

Above: Standing at right with (from left) Council of the Baptized members Carole Kastingar, Karin Grosscup and James Moudry, and Synod of the Baptized 2013 keynote speaker Sister Gail Worcelo. This photo was taken at a pre-synod reception on Friday, September 27. For more images and commentary, see the Progressive Catholic Voice post, A Pre-Synod Get-Together.

Right: "Co-Creating the Living Church" was the title and theme of the 2013 Synod of the Baptized. Sponsored by the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), of which I'm a co-founder and current board member, Synod 2013 took place on Saturday, September 28, at the Ramada Mall of America Hotel in Bloomington, MN.

This year's synod built on previous synods which focused on "Taking Our Place at the Table" (2010) and "Making Our Voices Heard" (2011). The latter launched the Council of the Baptized within the local church of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

Approximately 300 people came to hear an inspiring keynote address by Sister Gail Worcelo, a practitioner of evolutionary spirituality and co-founder with Thomas Berry of Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont.

In addition, Synod 2013 offered participants a number of afternoon breakout sessions that explored topics and ideas such as "Integrating the Universe Story with Our Christian Story," "Envisioning an Integral Church," "Moving Beyond Alienation with the Church," "Building Alternative Models of Church," and "Developing a Healthy Perspective on Sexuality." One breakout session looked at how we can have a voice in the selection of our next archbishop, while another focused on the purpose, achievements, and next steps of the Council of the Baptized.

As editor of The Progressive Catholic Voice I compiled and published a series of posts leading up to Synod 2013. This series is comprised of the following posts:

Save the Date: Synod of the Baptized, September 28, 2013
Countdown to Synod 2013 – Part 1: When, Where, Why, What!
Countdown to Synod 2013 – Part 2: Sister Gail Worcelo
Countdown to Synod 2013 – Part 3: Evolutionary Spirituality
Countdown to Synod 2013 – Part 4: Media Coverage of Synod 2013 and CCCR
Countdown to Synod 2013 – Part 5: Synod 2013 Break-Out Sessions
Countdown to Synod 2013 – Part 6: The "New Story" at the Heart of Evolutionary Spirituality

Above: Standing with friends (from left) Pat Whalen and Eileen and Bernie Rodel at Synod 2013, at which I served as emcee.

Left: Friends Paula Ruddy and Tom Smith-Myott with Synod 2013 keynote speaker Gail Worcelo.

Right: With my dear friends Marguerite Corcoran, CSJ and Rita McDonald, CSJ at Synod 2013 – Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Rita and Marguerite were my “companions” during my two-year-long candidacy program by which I became a consociate of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – St. Paul Province in 2008.

Above: Calling for the resignation of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt – November 9, 2013.

Close to 200 people gathered outside the chancery for the November 9 action – one spurred by revelations in local media of an on-going cover-up of sexual abuse by priests and possible danger to minors in parishes where they have been appointed to minister.

For more about this ongoing crisis in the local church, see the previous Wild Reed post, In the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, the Unravelment Continues.

The following Progressive Catholic Voice posts are also recommended:

Catholic Coalition for Church Reform Votes No Confidence in the Leadership of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
Healing Can't Start Until the Knife is Removed
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, "Regime Change is Not Enough"
New Disclosure Practices? Healing?

Above: In this image by Star Tribune photographer Kyndell Harkness I'm standing third from right and listening to Bob Schwiderski (center right) and Shawn Plocher of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) address those gathered outside the chancery on November 7, 2013.

For more images and commentary on this event, click here.

Above: It was great to see one of our Catholics for Marriage Equality MN 2012 yard signs re-purposed for the 2013 call for Archbishop Nienstedt's resignation!

Above: My friend Dan Raphael (right) is a gifted artist. On the evening of October 13, 2013, a collection of his original oil paintings was premiered at the Galleria in Edina, Minnesota. The exhibition runs through December 31. For more information, click here.

Left: My friend Brian with two of Dan's oil paintings.

Above: Enjoying a meal with friends (from left) Joey, Mary Lynn, Tom, Kathleen and Mike. Kathleen and her son Joey hosted this lovely evening of good food and good company!

Earlier in the year I traveled with Kathleen, Joey, and another friend, Will, to Pahá Sápa (the Black Hills of South Dakota) for a truly memorable experience.

Right: With friends Tom and Mary Lynn.

You may recall that Tom and his wife Darlene feature in the 2011 video series I helped produce, Catholics for Marriage Equality.

Not only do I have a great housemate in my friend Tim, but I get to share with him a truly beautiful home in south Minneapolis!

As you can see from the photo above, it's a home of elegant simplicity. We don't even have a television!

Lately I've enjoyed nothing better than lighting some candles and mindfully unwinding while coloring mandalas and listening to the music of artists such as Rosanne Cash, Loreena McKennitt, and Claude Chalhoub. Simple things, I know – but meaningful . . . and just what I need at this time.

Writes Susanne F. Fincher, artist and author of Coloring Mandalas for Balance, Harmony, and Spiritual Well-Being.

A mandala is a circular design that grows out of the urge to know oneself and one's place in the cosmos. Some scholars derive the word mandala from the Sanskrit syllables manda, or essence, and la, or container. Mandalas express completeness and invite us to experience ourselves as a whole being. The womblike structure of a mandala creates a feeling of safety and protection. At the same time, mandalas distill the complex rhythms of the universe – and human consciousness – into patterns that are manageable and comprehensible to human beings.

. . . A recurring theme in mandalas is an awareness of the passage of time and the realization that human life is in constant flux and flow. Mandalas are used to find meaning in the ongoing stream of human experience.

Left: Something else I've been doing these past few months is slowly collecting all twelve Poldark novels in the Pan Macmillian edition of the series. To date I have six of the twelve – Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark, Warleggan, The Stranger from the Sea, and The Miller's Dance. (The beautiful dancing hare bookends are a birthday gift from my friends Rick and Brian. Thanks, guys!)

Written by acclaimed author Winston Graham between 1945 and 2002, the twelve novels that comprise this series are set in Cornwall, England, from 1783 to 1820 and are centered on the lives and loves of two generations of the Poldark family. I think it's fair to say that the Poldark saga is widely considered to exemplify historical fiction at its best.

Earlier this year I re-read all twelve Poldark novels back-to-back. I either found them at used bookstores or borrowed them from the public library. Becoming re-aquainted with these novels and their various characters and stories was a very enjoyable experience and made me realize that I'd like my own copy of each of the novels. Hence my collection of the series as published by Pan Macmillan in the U.K. One reason I particularly like this edition is because of the art design of the books' covers. It's clear that whoever designed these covers has actually read each of the Poldark novels as there are all sorts of relevant little details and references within the artwork. Plus they just look good!

Since May I've been sharing my enthusiasm for the Poldark novels in a number of Wild Reed posts. In recommended reading order these are:

Passion, Time and Tide
A "Useful Marriage" for Morwenna
Time and Remembrance in the Poldark Novels
"Hers Would Be the Perpetual Ache of Loss and Loneliness"
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 1)
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 2)
Captain Blamey Comes A-Calling
Rendezvous in Truro
Cornwall's – and Winston Graham's – Angry Tide
A Sea Dragon of an Emotion . . . "Causing Half the Trouble of the World, and Half the Joy"
Into the Greenwood
"I Want You to Become a Part of Me – Each to Become a Part of the Other"

Above: I've endeavored to extend the simplicity of the downstairs area of the house to my upstairs bedroom.

The poster above my bed is of the 1994 film World and Time Enough by Minneapolis-based filmmaker Eric Mueller.

The icon on the wall at right is by John Giuliani and depicts the "Compassionate Christ." As I note in the sidebar, The Wild Reed is dedicated to the Compassionate Christ, who, as I like to say, "yearns to be embodied through our loving actions of body, speech, and mind."

For three other views of my room, see Photo of the Day – October 7, 2013 and images 2 and 4 of Interiors XVIII.

Above: Giuliani's "The Compassionate Christ" serves as the focal point of my prayer shrine. This shrine is in the meditation room that Tim and I created in one of the upstairs rooms.

Some of the books I find helpful in cultivating my prayer life include Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness by Nan C. Merrill, Prayer of the Heart in Christian and Sufi Mysticism by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Prayers to an Evolutionary God by William Cleary, Practical Sufism: A Guide to the Spiritual Path by Phillip Gowins, Sitting with Sufis: A Christian Experience of Learning Sufism by Mary Blye Howe, and A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer.

I've often utilized these texts when sharing various posts, including installments in my "Prayer of the Week" series. See, for instance, here, here, here, and here.

The prayer I pray the most is a version of the "Our Father" which, in large part, is Neil Douglas-Klotz's translation of the Aramaic words of Jesus. Douglas-Klotz's version can be found in his book Prayers of the Cosmos: Reflections on the Original Meaning of Jesus' Words. It can also be found online, here.

Compassionate Creator,
within and beyond all things,
holy are your names.
Grant what we need each day
in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes that bind us
as we release the strands we hold of others' guilt.
Do not let surface things delude us
but free us from all that holds us back
from our true purpose.
From you radiates all life and love,
the song that beautifies all.
From age to age it renews.
May your compassion be the ground from which spring
all our actions of body, speech and mind.


Above and below: The autumn colors this year were quite lovely. I've mentioned before how fortunate I am to live by Minnehaha Creek, and the beauty that these photos convey will always remind me of that.

For previous Wild Reed posts celebrating the beauty of autumn, see:

Autumn Dance
"Thou Hast Thy Music Too"
O Sacred Season of Autumn
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Rainy October Afternoon

Above: I have absolutely no idea who these guys are but, with sonic screwdrivers in hand, they were present at a special November 24 screening of the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis. Doctor Who fans would recognize that they are dressed as the Third Doctor (left)and the Fourth Doctor.

For more about this event, see the previous Wild Reed post, As Doctor Who Celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Sarah Jane Smith is Voted Number 1 Favorite Companion.

Above: My friends Curtis and Liana – December 1, 2013. I had the honor by officiating at Curtis and Liana's wedding earlier this year. The couple is expecting their first child on December 30!

Left: Celebrating my friend Rick's birthday – December 10, 2013. From left: Rick, John, me, and Brian.

Above: Tim putting the finishing touches to our Christmas tree, which we set up and decorated on Saturday, November 30.

Above: And what a lovely Christmas tree it is!

For more images, see my Advent 2013 post: Advent: The Season of Blessed Paradox.

Above: Meanwhile outside . . . most of the trees have lost their leaves and Minnehaha Creek has begun to freeze over.

Above and below: Our first substantial snowfall took place on December 4-5. For another image and for links to news stories about the "arctic blast" experienced across Minnesota following the snow, click here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Summer 2013
Out and About – Spring 2013
Out and About – Winter-Spring 2013
The End of a Very Long Winter
Threshold Musings


Terry Nelson said...

Beautiful. A man may be known by his friends - you are very blessed!

Michael J. Bayly said...

Thanks, Terry! Season's greetings to you. I hope you're having a blessed Advent and will have a very happy Christmas!