Monday, September 22, 2014

Out and About – Summer 2014

As I write this the autumnal equinox is taking place in the northern hemisphere. In other words, summer is ending and autumn (or fall) is beginning.

During the autumnal equinox, the sun can be seen at its zenith before its direct rays shift into the Southern Hemisphere for the next six months. Neither of Earth’s hemispheres is tilted toward the sun, which results in roughly twelve hours of daylight and darkness at all latitudes (but not exactly, as Joe Rao explains here).

Given how much of my spirituality resonates with themes and images of journey, balance, and transformation, I find myself drawn to this meteorological event and moreover to Cliff Séruntine's eloquent and insightful reflections on it.

September: Time of the darkening equinox, the balance between sun and shadow. Full of the magic of change – not always a comfortable magic. Its twilight empties the heart of its mortal dream. Yet, September is not a bleak month, but a time of transformation. There is no dream as fair as the host rushing “twixt night and day,” a symbol of the continuance of life in the Otherworld. This is the Celtic spiral of life – death and rebirth. This balance . . . it is the mystery of the time of the Autumnal Equinox.

In light of all of this, the autumnal equinox seems an appropriate time to pause and take a look back on the past summer, a looking back that I periodically do as part of The Wild Reed "Out and About" series of posts. I began the first of these 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, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Let me begin this Summer 2014 installment by saying something that will be obvious to anyone who follows this blog. And that is this: some of the ways I embody God’s justice and compassion in the Church and the world, as they relate to my work life, are changing – and have been changing since around 2011, perhaps earlier. You'll get a sense of this below, but let me say that even though some of these changes have recently become quite clear, where they are leading me remains not so clear. It's a time of transformation, which, as Cliff Séruntine notes above, is not always comfortable. But I'm dealing with it by living through it in a spirit of hope and trust. And that's the important thing.

I'm also living through it in a spirit of deep gratitude for my family and friends in Australia and my many friends here in the U.S. – many of which, though by no means all, you'll see in the following images.

For the first time in years I didn't work at the annual Twin Cities Pride festival. By this I mean the organization for which I serve as executive coordinator, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), didn't have an informational booth at this year's festival, held in Loring Park, Minneapolis on the weekend of June 28-29. This was because, after 34 years, CPCSM is in the process of disbanding. This isn't a bad thing. As I explain here, after many groundbreaking achievements the organization has run its course . . . and there are two local groups capable of continuing much of the work CPCSM pioneered. These groups are the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (which CPCSM helped co-found in 2009) and Dignity Twin Cities (from which CPCSM grew out of in 1980).

As you can see from the photo above, Dignity Twin Cities had a presence at the 2014 Twin Cities Pride festival. That's my friend and Dignity USA associate director Jim Smith pictured at left. Jim served with me and others on the board of the 2010-2013 CPCSM initiative, Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, which played an important role in securing marriage equality in Minnesota.

Above: Hello, boys! Two attendees at this year's Twin Cities Pride festival in Loring Park, Minneapolis – Saturday, June 28, 2014.

For The Wild Reed's 2014 Queer Appreciation series, see:
Same-Sex Desires: "Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture"
Lisa Leff on Five Things to Know About Transgender People
Steven W. Thrasher on the Bland and Misleading "Gay Inc" Treatment of the Struggle to Overturn Prop 8
Chris Mason Johnson's Test: A Film that "Illuminates Why Queer Cinema Still Matters"
Sister Teresa Forcades on Queer Theology
Omar Akersim: Muslim and Gay
Catholics Make Their Voices Heard on LGBTQ Issues

Above: My young friend Joey at his senior violin recital – Saturday, June 28, 2014. I've known Joey since he was a toddler! It's been a pleasure and honor to watch him grow up to be the very thoughtful and talented young man that he is. And now that he's turned 18 and graduated from high school, he's embarking on a whole new chapter of his life.

I wish you all the best, Joey!

Above: Joey in 1997 with his mother Kathleen (center) and friend Jane McDonald, CSJ.

Right: With Joey in 2007.

Regular readers of this blog would know that over the years Joey, his mother Kathleen, and I have made some memorable road trips together – to St. Louis, Wisconsin, Trempealeau Mountain, Kansas City, and Pahá Sápa (the Black Hills of South Dakota).

Above: Joey with our mutual friend Brigid McDonald, CSJ – June 28, 2014.

Right: With friends Greg and Roman at Joey's recital.

Left: With my dear friends Brigid McDonald, CSJ, and Rita McDonald, CSJ.

Above: Joey's mother, Kathleen (second from left) with Roman (second from right) and Brent and Lisa.

Kathleen, Brent and Lisa all served on the board of CPCSM/C4ME-MN.

Above: My friend Raul – July 4, 2014.

Right: With friends Walter and Raul – July 4, 2014.

Above: July 4th celebrations in Minneapolis.

Above: Friends Michael and Paul on their wedding day – July 19, 2014.

Above: A participant in the August 5, 2014 mourning ritual to mark Tisha B'Av.

Tisha B'Av is a fast day that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem as well as other tragedies throughout Jewish history. On August 5 I joined with around 50 Twin Cities-area Jews and their supporters in Minneapolis to mourn the tragedy of the destruction of Gaza and what organizers declared the Israeli government's "ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland and the deprivation of Palestinians' human rights."

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

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – July 18, 2014
"We Will Come Together in Our Pain"
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"

Above: Celebrating my friend George's birthday – August 19, 2014. From left: George, Joan, me, and Raul.

Above: Joanne, Johan, Joan, Karla, Lucinda,and Raul.

Above: My friend Phil with his niece Amelia – Saturday, August 23, 2014.

Above: With Phil and friends Anna and Tina at the Red Stag in northeast Minneapolis – Thursday, August 28, 2014.

Above: Friends Carmen, Liana, and Phil – Sunday, August 24, 2014. We're on the rooftop of Carmen and her partner Mark's apartment building. That's the new Minnesota Vikings' stadium being built in the background.

Above: My friend (and Phil's dad) John with his granddaughter Amelia – September 7, 2014.

Above: My friend Curtis with his (very happy) daughter Amelia.

Left: Ziggy!

Right: The always dignified-looking Quinn.

Above: Eddie the "wonder dog"! For more images of Eddie, click here and here.

Left: Julianna.

Above: Friends Curtis and Liana with their daughter Amelia (and Eddie!). You may recall that I had the honor of officiating at Curtis and Liana's wedding last summer.

Above: John with (from left) Quinn, Ziggy, and Eddie.

Above: Just one sunflower came up this year in my garden . . . but it was a beauty!

For another picture, click here.

Above: On Sunday, August 31, a number of friends and I celebrated the birthday of our mutual friend Angela, pictured at right with my good friend and housemate Tim.

Left: With my friend Amy – August 31, 2014.

Above and right: On the evening of Thursday, September 11, 2014, my good friend Joan and I saw the phenomenal Lisa Fischer in concert at the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis.

Here's just a little of what the Star Tribune's music critic Jon Bream says about Fischer's performance:

Lisa Fischer’s voice has filled stadiums and arenas around the world. But she brought art-songs, not arena rock, to the Dakota Jazz Club Thursday for two sold-out shows. The evening will certainly rank among the year's most musically satisfying and rewarding performances.

Twenty-three years after scoring a No. 1 R&B song and a Grammy for her debut album, Fischer has undertaken her first solo tour. She’s been mostly a backup singer for The Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Luther Vandross and others. But the Oscar-winning 2013 documentary about background singers, 20 Feet from Stardom, unexpectedly made her a star.

Her magnificent voice was on display at the Dakota, a wondrous instrument that can seamlessly blend classical, jazz, soul, gospel, rock and folk into the same song and sometimes the same sentence. What she didn’t do in the 95-minute first set was cut loose like she does at Stones concert. She didn’t have to.

She mesmerized, haunted and seduced with nuance, dynamics and remarkable inventiveness. She inhabits her songs, taking listeners on a journey filled with generous heart, soul and spirituality, whether interpreting Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” as spaced out jazz infused with gospel, soul and Afro-jazz or the Stones’ “Jumpin Jack Flash” as a slow-burn Southern soul song.

Earlier in the summer Joan and I saw Rufus Wainwright (left) in concert at the Minnesota Zoo Ampitheater.

Notes Ryan Jasurda in his review of Wainwright's June 24 performance:

Rufus is no stranger to playing the Weesner Family Ampitheater at the Minnesota Zoo , and he made it known, calling the stage in front of the lake “dramatic,” as if the shiny suit was but an ironic touch. All flair aside, Rufus gave the nearly sold-out crowd his bread and butter. He began the set with a few piano tunes, only to move to the acousic guitar—an instrument he is far less proficient at—for the majority of his nearly two hour set. Mixing songs old and new, Wainwright gave the adoring crowd everything they needed.

Well, that last part's definitely an overstatement, but it was still an enjoyable evening.

Above and below: At an apple orchard just outside of Hastings, MN, with friends Tim, Curtis, Liana, and little Amelia!

Above: Late summer blooms.

For more images of summer beauty, see the previous Wild Reed posts:
In Summer Light
Photo of the Day – August 11, 2014
Photo of the Day – August 26, 2014
Summer Blooms

Above and below: I feel very fortunate to live so close to Minnehaha Creek and its surrounding areas of parkland and urban wilderness.

Summer 2014 Posts of Note:
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
Has Archbishop Nienstedt's "Shadow" Finally Caught Up With Him?
Roman Catholicism's Fundamental Problem: The Cultic Priesthood and Its "Diseased System" of Clericalism
How Can I Tell You?
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence
James Foley: "Prayer Was the Glue That Enabled My Freedom, An Inner Freedom"
"Even in This Darkness"
Debunking Paul Johnson's Gay Reading of Song of Songs
"Can You See the Lark Ascending?" – A Compilation of Reviews of Kate Bush's Triumphant Return to the Stage
Visions of Crazy Horse: Depictions of the "Strange Man of the Oglalas" in Art, Film, and Sculpture
Memet Bilgin and the Art of Restoring Balance
A Visit to the Weisman
Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Spring 2014
Out and About – Winter 2013-2014

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