Sunday, September 30, 2018

Out and About – Summer 2018

Well, the autumn equinox has been and gone . . . which means the "time of transformation" is well and truly upon us. Indeed, here in the Twin Cities the temperature is very much cooling and the leaves are beginning to turn. Time, then, to take a look back on the ever-so-recently ended summer.

But first, regular readers will be familiar with my "Out and About" series, one that I began in April 2007 as a way of documenting my life as an “out” gay man, seeking to be all “about” the Spirit-inspired work of embodying God’s justice and compassion in the world. I've continued the series in one form or another for the last 11 years – in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 . . . and now well into 2018.

So let's get started with this latest installment . . .

The big news of the summer was that by the end of it I completed my year-long chaplain residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. My residency at Abbott was an incredible experience, to be sure.

In the photo above I'm pictured with my fellow resident chaplains Chandler, Hae, and Katie.

As I mentioned in a previous post, on September 4 I started working at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids as that facility's Palliative Care Chaplain.

Above: My desk in the Spiritual Care office at Abbott Northwestern Hospital – June 29, 2018. That's singer and actor Carl Anderson on my screensaver . . . and Cernunnos, the Beloved and Antlered One, at right.

Above and right: Thursday, June 21, was the summer solstice, and at noon that day I led a "prayer gathering" in the chapel of Abbott Northwestern Hospital to celebrate the occasion.

Entitled "See How We Shine!" this gathering was not only a celebration of summer but also the creation-centered wisdom that is found within the Pagan, Christian, Sufi, and Indigenous spiritual traditions.

For more images and commentary, click here.

Above: My fellow residents and I with CPE supervisor Verlyn Hemmen – Friday, August 31, 2018.

Following (with added images) is part of what Verlyn wrote in my Unit II evaluation.

Michael is deeply compassionate and committed to offering the best care possible. Sometimes his care has him going beyond what might be expected, but his convictions about caring for others includes doing something if he possibly can. This was the subject of one of his journal entries in which he reflected on the difference between “helping” and “caring.” His reflection brought him to wrestle with the dictionary definition and to write a beautiful statement of his understanding of spiritual care (at this particular moment):

I see chaplaincy to be all about embodying a grounded, compassionate, non-anxious, and listening presence. Such embodiment invites both myself and others to go within and to seek, discern, and give voice to our deepest truths and/or to search for new truths in light of situations that may challenge us with honest doubts and new questions relating to faith and meaning-making in our lives.

Clearly, Michael thinks deeply about his pastoral role and continues to tweak and refine in ways that are consistent with the action/reflection model of CPE.

Throughout the unit, Michael continued to explore and share his discoveries about his own spirituality. Some of that came out in the prayer services he led for both the spring equinox and summer solstice, the latter serving as a transition out of our current chapel as it is being remodeled. In these services Michael boldly claimed pagan influences but honored many other spiritual traditions as well. The services were well received as they brought together words, music and photography in significant ways.

. . . Michael is able to embrace his own story and his developing spiritual story in ways that make him open to many and willing to affirm the dignity of each person. Though there are new aspects to his spiritual story, they all seem to fit well with his experiences through life. When he leads groups, he brings a sense of integration that is easy to perceive. His faith seems both to anchor him and free him. I have little doubt that his future will include greater articulation of his theological stance even as his pastoral functioning continues to expand. . . . Michael has many pastoral skills and is able to adjust his pastoral approach quickly. His empathy and his calm presence in the midst of challenging circumstances serves others and him well. He has a playful side that can reduce tension and help to refocus on what is important.

. . . Michael’s work with patients is strong. His awareness of his passion for work in the palliative care area moved him towards deeper engagement with the Palliative Care team at Abbott Northwestern. He was well received and trusted completely. His efforts yielded a job interview within our health care system at another location. He was offered the position and has accepted it. I have little doubt that he will be well received and be an important part of the care teams at Mercy Hospital.

Above, left, and below: On Sunday, June 30, my housemates Tim and Colleen and I joined with around 7,000 others to participate in the "Families Belong Together" march and rally in downtown Minneapolis.

It was one of 700 demonstrations held today across the country to protest the Trump administration's immigration policies, one of which, until only recently, involved the forced separation of children from their parents who had illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. The nationwide demonstrations were organized before this particular policy was recently reversed. Organizers and those who marched continue to  demand, however, that the federal government reunite the families that were separated.

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

Above: Celebrating Gay Pride (or Queer Appreciation, as I like to call it) at my friend Pete's place – Friday, June 22, 2018. Pictured (from left) my boyfriend Brent, Omar, and (at far right) Jeffrey. Pete took this pic.

Right: One of the dancers at The Saloon Bar's Pride Block Party in downtown Minneapolis – Friday, June 22/Saturday June 23, 2018.

For The Wild Reed's 2018 Queer Appreciation series of posts, see:
Michelangelo Signorile on the Rebellious Purpose of Queer Pride
Liberating Paris: Thoughts on Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burning
Stephanie Beatriz on the Truth of Being Bi
Queer Native Americans, Colonialism, and the Fourth of July

The summer of 2018 was a summer of weddings for me. I attended three, in fact . . .  officiating at two of them.

Above: With my friend Kelly at our mutual friends' Adam and Alesha's wedding – Minneapolis, July 13, 2018.

Left: With the happy newly weds, Alesha and Adam.

Above: With my friends Angie and Bryon at Adam and Alesha's wedding – Friday, July 13, 2018.

Right: After the wedding my friend Deandre and I went out partying at The Fremont in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Above: Deandre, chilling at my home in south Minneapolis – July 21, 2018.

Left: Deandre and his cat Tyga – July 7, 2018.

Above: With Deandre. . . . Just goofing off!

My boyfriend Brent hosted the fourth Queer Movie Night on Saturday, July 14, 2018. He chose the 2015 drama Carol to view and discuss.

Pictured above are Omar, Pete, Hae, and Jon.

Carol, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, is set in New York City during the early 1950s. It tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring female photographer and an older woman going through a difficult divorce.

The film has received over 270 industry and critic nominations, and over 85 awards and honours. Kate Stables in Sight & Sound writes that "elegant restraint is the film's watchword . . . In this enjoyably deliberate film, each shot and scene is carefully composed to pay homage to '50s cinema, yet infused with an emotional ambiguity which feels decidedly contemporary." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times says the film is "a serious melodrama about the geometry of desire, a dreamy example of heightened reality that fully engages emotions despite the exact calculations with which it's been made... Carol's lush but controlled visual look is completely intoxicating. This is filmmaking done by masters, an experience to savor."

For more about our Queer Movie Night series, click here.

More Queer Movie Night fun with (above from left) Omar, Pete, Hae, Jeffrey, and Jon . . .

. . . and (at left from left) Mary, Brent, and Joan – Saturday, July 14, 2018.

This summer my childhood friend Jillian and her husband David visited the U.S. from Australia, and on the weekend of July 29-30, they were in the Twin Cities of St. Paul/Minneapolis. To welcome them, I gathered together a group of my friends on the evening of Saturday, July 29 and took Jillian and David out for a meal at Hola Repa Mexican Restaurant in south Minneapolis.

Afterwards, my friend Pete hosted us at his place for drinks and dessert. Thanks, Pete!

Above: With Brent and Jillian & David.

Right: With Jillian.

Above: Jillian and Brent – Saturday, July 29, 2018.

Above (from left): Kathy, Jillian, Joan, Barb, and Kathleen.

Left: Pete, Matt, and Omar.

Above: David, Kathy, John, and Jillian at Hola Repa – Saturday, July 29, 2018.

Above: Jeffrey, Pete, me, Brent, Jillian, and David – Minneapolis, July 29, 2018.

Above: An outdoors summer dinner at the always welcoming home of my friends John and Noelle – Sunday, August 5, 2018.

Left: Little Amelia, enjoying her bubble-making machine!

Above and below: My good friend Raul pictured by that part of Minnehaha Creek close to my home in south Minneapolis – July 22, 2018.

Above: My good friend Mahad at the Prayer Tree – Sunday, August 12, 2018.

Above: A portrait of Mahad – August 20, 2018.

Left and below: With friends Mahad and Kareem, celebrating Mahad's birthday – August 28, 2018.

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 15, Mahad and I explored the bluffs of the Mississippi River, near the University of St. Thomas.

In particular, we explored the deep wooded ravine that's been created by a spring-fed stream that flows into the river.

Above: At one point on its journey to the river, this spring-fed stream becomes a waterfall!

Left: By the spring where it emerges from the earth.

Above and below: Mahad at one of my long-time favorite spots on the Mississippi.

Above: The wedding of my dear friend Joan to Matt – August 3, 2018.

Right: With my friend Karla. We co-officiated Joan and Matt's wedding.

Above: Joan, Zach, Matt and Cree.

Right: Brent and Omar.

Above: With my dear friend Kathleen at Joan and Matt's August 3 wedding in Mendota Heights.

Above: Summer blooms! (For more images, click here.)

Above and below: My housemate Colleen's kitty, Finn (short for Finnegan). Isn't he adorable?

Right: My friend Deandre, napping with Finn – September 20, 2018.

Above: The third wedding I attended (and the seconded I officiated) this past summer was that of my friends Kenny and Kelsey in Cottage Grove on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

Above: Members of the Palliative Care team of Abbott Northwestern Hospital, with whom I had the honor of working with for much of my residency – August 22, 2018.

Above: With my three fellow resident chaplains (Katie, Chandler, and Hae) and (standing behind us) our CPE supervisors and/or staff chaplains from Abbott Northwestern Hospital. We're pictured at the restaurant in the Midtown Sheraton, where we were taken out for lunch on Tuesday, August 28, 2018. Our residency concluded three days later on Friday, August 31.

Above: Standing at right with my fellow chaplain residents; our CPE supervisors Verlyn and Kim; the hospital's Catholic chaplain, Fr. Sebastien Bakatu; and the incoming group of chaplain residents, including my friend Verna – Friday, August 31, 2018.

Above: My friend Mahad, who came and had lunch with me on the last day of my residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital – Friday, August 31, 2018.

My friend Omar hosted the fifth Queer Movie Night at his home in Eagan on Sunday, August 26, 2018. He chose the 2015 drama Weekend to view and discuss.

Pictured above are Omar, Hugh, Javier, Hae, and Rico.

Weekend is a 2011 British romantic drama film directed by Andrew Haigh. It stars Tom Cullen and Chris New as two men who meet and begin a sexual relationship the weekend before one of them plans to leave the country.

Writing in the Boston Globe, Wesley Morris comments that Weekend is “one of the truest, most beautiful movies ever made about two strangers.” Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly writes, “British filmmaker Andrew Haigh‘s background in editing (from Gladiator to Mister Lonely) is evident in the casual beauty of moments that only appear 'found,' giving Weekend an engrossing documentary feel.” While Eric Hynes of The Village Voice remarks, “Naturalistic without being ineloquent, heartfelt yet unsentimental, Weekend is the rarest of birds: a movie romance that rings true.”

Here's an interesting fact: Weekend was restricted to just ten cinemas on its release in Italy on March 10, 2016 after the country's Roman Catholic bishops branded it "indecent" and "unusable" in the country's many Church-owned film theatres. The film was shunned by the more than 1,100 cinemas which are owned by the Catholic Church and make up the bulk of Italy's network of independent/arthouse theatres.

For more about our Queer Movie Night series, click here.

Above: More Queer Movie Night fun with Omar and Keith – Sunday, August 26, 2018.

Above: With Hae and Javier.

Above and below: On the rooftop of Omar's apartment building in Eagan, MN – August 26, 2018.

Above and right: With Brent, Pete, and Chris at a performance by The Suburbs at Lake Harriet, Minneapolis – Friday, September 7, 2018.

Above, left, and below: Kayaking on the Mississippi River with my boyfriend Brent and our friends Pete and Jeffrey – Sunday, September 9, 2018.

Above: Jeffrey and Pete – September 9, 2018.

Above: On Saturday, September 15, my friends Joan and Matt hosted a "Farewell Summer / Welcome Fall" dinner at their home in Mendota Heights. Pictured from left: Kurt, Cesar, Joan, Matt, Omar, John, and George.

Above: With Kurt, Matt, and Omar.

NEXT: Out and About – Autumn 2018

Summer 2018 Wild Reed posts of note:
Celebrating the Summer Solstice
Liberating Paris: Thoughts on Jennie Livingston's Paris Is Burning
Carl Anderson
Stephanie Beatriz on the Truth of Being Bi
"What We're Seeing Here Is a Tipping Point" Nationwide Protests Against the Trump Administration's Immigration Policies
I Suspect the World Remembers Everything . . .
Michael Sean Winters on This Year's Grim Fourth of July: "The Entire Republican Establishment Has Caved to Trumpism"
Queer Native Americans, Colonialism, and the Fourth of July
How We Can Help the People of Yemen
Tous les Mêmes
The Tragedy of the Romanovs, 100 Years On
Carl Anderson: "One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era"
Thomas Moore on the Circling of Nature as the Best Way to Find Our Substance
A Morning at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
LeBron James: A True American Hero
Summer Blooms
"Avengers Assemble!"
As the World Burns, Calls for a "Green New Deal"
To Be Alive Is to Love

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Out and About – Spring 2018 (Part I)
Out and About – Spring 2018 (Part II)
Out and About – Winter 2017-2018
Out and About – Autumn 2017
Out and About – Summer 2017

Images: Michael J. Bayly. (With thanks to my friend Katie for the opening image.)