Monday, October 23, 2017

On This "Echoing-Day" of My Birth

I turn 52 today.

What does it feel like for me to turn 52? The overwhelming feeling I have is one of gratitude – gratitude for being alive in this beautiful world; gratitude for my connection to Sacred Mystery, for my health, for the meaningful work I do, for my family and friends, and for the journey I'm on.

On this special day I take this moment to say that I am grateful for my life just as it is, knowing that it continues to unfold – with both joys and disappointments, both certainties and questions.

Yet I know the journey continues . . and that important work still needs to be done, within myself and in the wider world, so that the Sacred Presence, the Divine Passion that permeates all things can be revealed and embodied in all its transforming beauty and power. So, yes, I'm accepting and grateful for my life today but I'm also grateful for being on an ongoing journey of growth and change. I hope I always will be.

Above: Pictured in my "bone country," the Australian town of Gunnedah, the place of my birth – August 17, 2017.

It's been somewhat of a tradition for me to share on my birthday a song or prayer or reflection that I find particularly meaningful. On my 44th birthday, for example, I shared Stephan Gately's performance of "No Matter What," and when I turned 45 I shared "Where the Truth Lies" by the band Exchange.

In 2012, when I turned 47, I shared a prayer for balance at a very trying time, not only for me, but for many of us here in Minnesota. Two years ago, on the first day of my fiftieth year, I shared a "guidepost on the journey," and then on the day of my 50th birthday I shared Buffy Sainte-Marie's rousing "It's My Way."

Today I share a beautiful poem by John O'Donohue that my friend and work colleague Verna gifted me with last Friday, along with the beautiful flowers pictured at left. Thank you, Verna!

For Your Birthday

By John O'Donohue

Blessed be the mind that dreamed the day
the blueprint of your life
would begin to glow on earth,
illuminating all the faces and voices
that would arrive to invite
your soul to growth.

Praised be your father and mother,
who loved you before you were,
and trusted to call you here
with no idea who you would be.

Blessed be those who have loved you
into becoming who you were meant to be.
Blessed be those who have crossed your life
with dark gifts of hurt and loss
that have helped to school your mind
in the art of disappointment.

When desolation surrounded you,
blessed be those who looked for you
and found you, their kind hands
urgent to open a blue window
in the gray wall formed around you.

Blessed be the gifts you never notice,
your health, eyes to behold the world,
thoughts to countenance the unknown,
memory to harvest vanished days,
your heart to feel the world's waves,
your breath to breathe the nourishment
of distance made intimate by earth.

On this echoing-day of your birth,
may you open the gift of solitude
in order to receive your soul;
Enter the generosity of silence
to hear your hidden heart;
Know the serenity of stillness
to be enfolded anew.

In celebrating my birthday I share the following 24 photos, two or three from each decade of my life!


Above: With my godmother, Rita Groth, on the day of my Baptism.

Above: As an infant in Gunnedah.

Left: My Dad, Gordon Bayly, holding me when I was just a little boy. This photo was taken during a family holiday at The Entrance in the Australian summer of 1966/67.

Right: With my Mum, Margaret Bayly (née Sparkes) at The Entrance.

For Wild Reed posts about people, places, and experiences of this time, see:
My "Bone Country"
The White Rooster
Journey to Gunnedah
Remembering Nanna Smith


Above: At right with my older and younger brothers Chris and Tim. We're playing with my collection of toy plastic African animals, which I loved so much! Kimba the White Lion was, after all, my favorite TV show at the time.

For previous posts about people, places, and experiences of this time, see:
One of These Boys Is Not Like the Others
How Do I Tell You?
Thanks, Mum!
The Light Within


Above: Looking rather pensive in this pic from 1982. At the time I was in my second last year of high school. What was on my mind? Perhaps things like this and this.

Above: Atop some lonely peak in the wilds of Australia. My friend David was with me on this particular occasion, which was in 1986, if I recall correctly.

Above: At Uluru in 1986.

Above: In 1988, wearing the jumper (or sweater) that I bought with the money I received for my very first published article. I think it was $40 I was paid for a piece published in The Canberra Times about the 50th anniversary of the Prince Valiant adventure strip. (To read this article, click here.)

For previous posts about people, places, and experiences of this time, see:
Shards of Summer
"Hers Would Be the Perpetual Ache of Loss and Loneliness"
Trusting God's Generous Invitation
Darren Hayes, Coming Out . . . Oh, and Time Travel
"Seven Wonders": My Theme Song of 1987
Remnants of a Past Life


Above: A shot of me taken when I was living in the Uptown area of Minneapolis in 1996. I'd been living in the U.S. for three years when this photo was taken.

Above: Yes, it's true: I'm looking very much like a magician in this portrait from 1996.

In 1997 I became involved in the justice and peace community of the Twin Cities. I document my experiences and my expansion of consciousness around a range of issues through my online photographic exhibit, Faces of Resistance: Images and Stories of Progressive Activism at the Turn of the Millennium (1997-2006).

Above: Standing with the North Oak, one of Four Sacred Oaks at the Minnehaha Free State. The Minnehaha Free State (1998-1999) was established by a coalition of groups in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to stop the rerouting of Highway 55 through an area of land in South Minneapolis considered especially sacred to the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota people.

Left: Participating in the weekly Alliant Tech vigils in 1998.

For Wild Reed posts about people, places, and experiences of this time, see:
More Remnants of a Past Life
Intimate Soliloquies
The Australian Roots of My Progressive Catholicism
20 Years Stateside
Coming Out


For previous posts about people, places, and experiences of this time, see:
Making the Connections
A Letter to "Dear Abby" re. Responding to 9/11
A Lose/Lose Situation
"Can the Klan!"


Above: Celebrating my return to the (spring) snow of Minnesota after a 2015 visit to Australia! – April 2015.

Above: In my St. Paul home in November 2009. This photo was taken by a Star Tribune photographer to accompany an article about the Roman Catholic Church's controversial Courage apostolate. At the time I was coordinating opposition to this program and to the church hierarchy's overall understanding of and approach to gay people and relationships. (Note: The image on the wall behind me is of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus.)

Above: In the woods by Minnehaha Creek, close to my home in south Minneapolis – May 11, 2017.

Above and right: Two recent pics!

For previous posts about people, places, and experiences of this time, see:
Michael Bayly: Changing the Church from Within
Into the Fray
On the First Anniversary of Marriage Equality in Minnesota, a Celebratory Look Back at the Important Role Played by Catholics
Saying Farewell to CPCSM
Moving On

. . . All of which pretty much brings us up to today . . . and a number of celebrations I've had to mark my 52nd birthday.

Above: I guess my birthday celebrations started last night, the night before my 52nd birthday, when my friends Pete and Jeffrey came over to watch Poldark.

Thanks to my housemate Tim we also celebrated my birthday with both carrot cake and chocolate cake! Thanks, Tim!

Above: Speaking of chocolate cake . . . A big thank you to my friend and colleague Hae for the chocolate birthday cake she made for me today at work! It was absolutely delicious.

Above: With fellow Abbott Northwestern Hospital chaplain residents Katie and Hae, and chaplain intern Verna.

Above: Another blast from the past! . . . One of my former students from my teaching (and learning) days in Goulburn, Australia, shared this photo on Facebook earlier today. He also shared the following:

I found this photo earlier this year and thought I would keep it till your birthday to share it! This was my birthday party in Year 5 (1992). Think that speaks volumes to what a wonderful teacher you were!!! Have a great birthday.

Above: With my dear friend Joan earlier this evening. You may recall that Joan accompanied me on a visit back to Australia in 2015, where she celebrated her own birthday.

Above: Enjoying dinner at Pazzaluna Italian Restaurant in downtown St. Paul with (from left) John, George, Matt, and Joan. Last month I had the honor of officiating George and John's wedding.

Above: Hello, boys! . . . With friends Pete, George, John, and Matt at Pazzaluna this evening.

Above: Thankfully my friend Pete had his eyes open during the mesmerizing performance of Niyaz that we saw at the Fitzgerald Theatre tonight.

Niyaz is an Iranian Canadian musical duo that adapts Persian, Indian and Mediterranean folk sounds, poetry and songs, including Sufi mystical poetry, with Western electronic instrumentation and programming.

It was a great performance . . . and I have my friend Joan to thank as my ticket to Niyaz's show tonight was her birthday gift to me. Thanks, Joan!


10/31/17 Update: The celebrations continued after my actual birthday! . . .

Above: On the evening of October 24 my friends Ken and Carol hosted a dinner for me at which they and our mutual friends Kathleen, Brigid, and Sue Ann celebrated my birthday. From left: Ken, Sue Ann, Carol, Kathleen, and Brigid.

Right: With my boyfriend Brent at our friend Alfredo's October 28 Halloween-themed party. Brent's dressed as a Starfleet officer.

Above: On the evening of Monday, October 30, my friend Raul took me out to dinner at Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant in Minneapolis. Thanks, Raul!

Above: On the evening of Wednesday, November 8, I had a lovely dinner with my friends (from left) Dee, Phil, Amelia, Liana, Noelle, and John. Noelle had also recently celebrated a birthday!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Turning 50
A Guidepost on the Journey
In the Eye of the Storm, a Tree of Living Flame
Journeying Into the Truth . . . Valiantly, of Course
No Matter What

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