winter solstice takes place later this evening I thought I'd take the opportunity to look back at the season of autumn that is soon to pass.
I must admit it's been a rather somber season for me. After all, it has followed a number of momentous events and endings in my life, many of which took place in the spring and summer.
All of which means that I continue to find myself in a place and time when, more than anything, I'm feeling very thoughtful and a little sad.
And I'm okay with that. After all, it's understandable and appropriate. I have, as I mentioned, experienced a number of endings. But also a number of beginnings. . . . and a very real sense that, as Senegalese singer-songwriter Daby Touré sings, this is the time.
I feel it deep within me. . . . Feel that it is not only a time of new beginnings but also of new understandings, new possibilities, a new level of awareness and action.
And I'm not just talking about within my personal life. I'm sure everyone reading this knows that the whole of humanity is currently being challenged by things like the climate crisis and the rise of right-wing authoritarianism. Such things can be paralyzing for some, but I see them as challenging us to evolve our way of being in the world so that we become embodiments of “higher love.”
Is it any wonder, then, that I'm so drawn to the presidential campaign of spiritual author Marianne Williamson. . . . I mean, Marianne and her campaign are all about recognizing the need to embody this higher love in and through our lives, and thus our politics, so as to go beyond the symptoms and address and transform the underlying problems that are causing so much harm in our lives and throughout the United States.
As Marianne said on The Conversation in October:
We need to do some radical truth-telling here. It can't just be a policy fix here and a policy fix there. It can't just be talking about the symptoms. We have to present to the American people a far more holistic, integrated vision of a real fundamental turning – a turning of the heart.
The hope for this country lies in the embrace of a politics that does not flow like bile from the power of an amoral economic system, but from the power of deep humanitarian principles at the core of our democracy. This speaks not just to changes in Washington but to changes in our hearts as well. These are spiritually revolutionary times. Rehearsal is over. The time of change is now.
Such an insightful call to action brings to mind Greg Korn's recent YouTube comment: “Marianne Williamson has a rare ability to articulate the ethics of the Left in an approachable, graceful, confident, and wildly intelligent way. I truly believe that she's the most intellectually and philosophically sophisticated candidate I've seen in my lifetime.”
I do too. Which is why as long as she's in the race, I'll be supporting her and sharing her message. And as you'll see, I've been doing so in some very visible ways this autumn as I've been out and about!
Which is a good way to segue into an explanation of this series. Regular readers will know that my "Out and About" series has long been 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 both my own life and in the wider world. It's a series I've maintained in one form or another for the last 12 years – starting in 2007 and continuing in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
So let's get started with this latest installment . . .
Above: My good friend (or "mate" as we like to call each other) Deadre – October 26, 2019.
Deandre's been a steadfast friend throughout this season of endings and beginnings that I'm experiencing in my life just now. In October and November as I was setting up and settling into my new home in south Minneapolis (right), Deadre was a great help, often staying the night and going that extra mile to be a supportive and caring friend. Thanks, mate!
Above: My statue of Cernunnos [KER-noo-nos], the ancient Celtic archetype (or god) which has helped introduce me to a much broader and inclusive understanding of the "sacred masculine," one that welcomes and celebrates queer incarnations of both masculinity and union with the Sacred.
Above: Deadre, relaxing in my new home, an attic apartment in a triplex in the Seward neighborhood of south Minneapolis. It's a very spacious and airy abode, with a large window in the bedroom that looks out onto two beautiful elm trees.
Throughout autumn and now into winter, I find myself liking nothing better than lighting some candles and either meditating or working on my blog while listening to music (usually Daby Touré, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, Rita Coolidge, Kimi Djabate, Habib Koité, Petula Clark, Gil Scott-Heron, Maxwell, Shirley Bassey, and Carl Anderson).
Above and below: Views of the Seward neighborhood of south Minneapolis. My move here at the end of September felt like coming full circle as Seward is right next to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, where I lived for three years when I first arrived in Minneapolis 25 years ago!
Above: At my desk in the office of the Palliative Care team at Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids, MN – November 12, 2019.
Since September 2018 I've work as the Palliative Care chaplain at Mercy. It's very meaningful work, though often emotionally draining.
Above: Visiting my dear friend Catherine Jenkins, CSJ – October 12, 2019.
Above: My dear friend Carol Masters, reading from her recently-released collection of poetry, Dear Descendent – October 17, 2019. I'm honored to have one of my photographs grace the book's cover.
Note the publishers, Nodin Press:
In Dear Descendent, Carol Masters draws upon her life as an activist and her love of the natural world to fashion thoughtful overlays and wry juxtapositions that can delight the senses or prick the conscience – often both. A master of metaphor, yet she does't shy away from an occasional grand (and whimsical) metaphysical statement: Everything is Made of Everything. There are prison cells and fields of flowers – even her straightforward descriptions of the moon demonstrate that something new and evocative can still be found in its age-old countenance. Gratitude and grief commingle in her poems about aging and loved ones lost. Topping it all off is an intermittently surreal and sometimes almost crazy freedom in the use of images. In the poem “Fly Ball,” for example, sports, physics, and the Second Coming converge as the sacrifice fly approaches the mitt. (Apollinaire would have approved.) The words flow freely, musically, from the page, ensuring that Masters' voice is one that her descendents – and ours – will want to listen to.
Above: Wearing my “Marianne 2020” cap while taking a walk through the woods by the Mississippi River near my home on October 19, 2019.
For more images from that day, along with a lovely psalm by Edward Hays, click here.
My dear friend Kathleen convened a gathering of friends on the evening of Saturday, October 26 to celebrate my 54th birthday, which took place three days earlier on October 23, 2019. (For my special birthday post, click here.)
Above: At right with (from left) friends Jean, John, and Brent.
Above: Jeffrey, Kathleen, Deandre, and Pete – October 26, 2019.
Above: John, Kathy, and Brent.
Above: Jeffrey, Hae, and Pete – October 26, 2019.
Above: On All Hallows Eve, my friends Brent, Sharon, and Cori and I attended BareBones' 26th Annual Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza at Hidden Falls Regional Park, on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul.
For more images and commentary, click here.
Above: A photo taken on the grounds of the Christos Center at Lino Lakes, MN – Saturday, November 2, 2019.
Here I participated in an outdoors evening retreat entitled “Tending the Flame.” This retreat was a timely and fascinating exploration of Celtic spirituality. I say timely because it took place at around the time of Samhain (October 31), the Celtic New Year.
For a reflection I wrote inspired in part by this retreat, click here.
World of Dance Live Show at the State Theater in downtown Minneapolis. And what a great live show it was! Thanks, Raul!
Above and left: The Kings, a hip-hop dance crew from Mumbai, were quite something! 😄
Above: The dance trope known as Unity LA – November 17, 2019.
Above: George, Brent, Joan, John, Ian, and Kurt – Sunday, November 17, 2019.
Above: At right with (from left) George and Kurt.
Above: Cree, John, Zach, and Omar – November 17, 2019.
Above: Doing my bit to get the word out about Marianne 2020!
Above and left: Celebrating Polly Mann's 100th birthday – Saturday, November 23, 2019.
Polly is a longtime justice and peace activist and co-founder of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) – a non-profit organization dedicated to dismantling systems of militarism and global oppression, and one of the most active and influential justice and peace groups in the Midwest. She’s been described as a “relentless speaker of truth to power.”
Polly’s also a very dear friend of mine and a great inspiration for my own efforts in making a positive difference in the world. Thank you, Polly . . . and Happy 100th Birthday!
For more images of Polly's very special birthday celebration click here.
Above: My neighborhood after the first snowstorm of the season – November 27, 2019.
For more images, click here.
Above: Friends Phil and Dee – November 28, 2019.
Above: Noelle, Amelia, Dee, John, Phil, and (in the foreground) Liana.
Left: Amelia, having a great time decorating the tree!
Autumn 2019 Wild Reed posts of note:
• Autumn's “Wordless Message”
• Queer Black Panther
• Progressive Perspectives on Corruption in U.S. Politics
• The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
• A Prayer for a Changed Relationship
• The Sweetness and the Sorrow
• Arthur Kleinman on the “Soul of Care”
• This Is the Time
• Autumn Psalm
• Resilience and Hope
• Balancing the Fire
• “This Autumn Land is Dreaming”
• Happy Birthday, Petula!
• Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
• Walking Away
• Celebrating Polly Mann's 100th Birthday
• After the Season's First Snowstorm, a Walk Through the Neighborhood
• Carl Anderson: “Like a Song in the Night”
• Remembering Fred Hampton
• Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
• Quotes of Note Regarding the Impeachment of President Trump
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Out and About – Spring & Summer 2019
• Out and About – Winter 2018-2019
• Out and About – Autumn 2018
Images: Michael J. Bayly.