From the Crossroads of the World to the End of the Road

7 06 2010

Well, I’m here!  And it’s HOT.  And drenched with sunshine.

It’s been just about a week, and I’m settling in nicely.  My Personal Atheist and I made the drive in 3 easy-going days, stopping in Raleigh, NC the first night and Jacksonville, FL the second night, finally arriving in Key West on Tuesday, 1 June.  It was quite an experience to drive down the Overseas Highway at sunset.   The Personal Atheist got to meet my mother over lunch last week, which was a treat for her as she’s never met anyone from Israel before.   She also has never met (to her knowledge) an atheist either!

Vacationing somewhere is very different than, say, living there, so I spent a day touring around town in the Blessed and Holy Jeep Saint Jeronica, found such essential things away from where all the tourists are like the gym and some other shops.  Everyone here is very friendly (some too friendly by half … ) and I have to tell you it is quite a colorful group of folks that live here!  As this is a family blog, I shall refrain from going into detail, but I will say that if I could write a book of things seen and heard and probably pay for seminary.

After spending a few days getting situated and meeting folks, I have started a job hunt.  In addition to the headhunter, I’m looking in the paper and craig’s list.  In addition to looking for a “job” job, it was suggested that I do some volunteer work to get something “key westy” on the resume as the locals have a very strong sense of community.  Which makes sense when you live on an island with a year-round population of 25,000.

On the job front, I have to say it’s quite liberating when you’re not looking to do anything in particular except make enough to pay the bills and have a little left over for disposable income, as opposed to say, furthering your career. For example, one of the local tour guides has an opening in their “haunted key west” tours, which could be kind of fun as a part-time gig, especially at Hallowe’en.

I spoke with the Vicar about the discernment process, if he had anything in mind for me to do specifically.  Obviously the first thing to do is to get to know the parish and more importantly let them get to know me.  And when a need for ministry is seen, fill it.

My new parish, St. Peter’s, was very happy to have a new member.  The parish is small, but has one of the biggest spirit and gusto I have witnessed.  It was the last Sunday our organist was serving prior to her going off to university, and some folks brought over some delicious food during coffee hour … fried chicken, two kinds of macaroni&cheese, cornbread, meatballs, and there was cake for dessert. After the repast, the Vicar and two other friends of mine went to brunch along with the a priest supplying at St. Paul’s while its rector was out of town. It turns out she officiated the service and celebrated the Eucharist sporting a very lovely pair of rhinestone-studded black sandals.  Needless to say, she is a lot of fun and we all wished that she come back to visit soon.

I really think I’m going to like living here, for however God wills me to be here.

The First of Many Dinners This Week

25 05 2010

Last night I had dinner with my friend Craig. Craig also happens to be my very first boyfriend. We first met at a social gathering for LGBT youth on Long Island 15 years ago. Neither of us were really out and were still wrestling with what it meant to be gay. Through each other, we also discovered what it meant to be in love with someone.

Craig and I dated for about three years, and we stopped seeing each other we worked very very hard to maintain our friendship … which wasn’t easy. But we’re both glad we did and I’m sure I speak for both of us when I say that we wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is a picture of us at my FAVOURITE Turkish Restaurant, called “Turkish Cuisine.”  It’s a little mom and pop restaurant that serves THE BEST Turkish Food.  YUM – YUM – YUM!!!

Days of Grace and Pentecost Musings

23 05 2010

Today was the last Sunday at Grace Church in New York, the Church that has been my spiritual home for the past five years as well as the place that had birthed me as an Episcopalian.   As many of you know I had found Grace after a year or so of wandering, having become disenchanted and rather angry at what seemed to be the epistemic closure of the Evangelical mindset.   It was with great sadness that I saw the branch of the faith that nurtured me as a child become taken over by the religious right and increasingly became more and more rigid in its ethos.   I could write about my issues with modern Evangelicalism for quite a while, but that is for another time.

Grace Church in New York is a bit of an anomaly in that principal service on Sunday is Morning Prayer, Rite I.  For feast days and the first Sunday of the month, we use Holy Eucharist, Rite I.  The other Sunday services are always Holy Eucharist Rite II.  We don’t use incense, our main altar still faces east, and the vestments are tastefully understated.  Grace is also interesting because while the congregation is mostly upper middle class white folks, there are quite a few conservatives, quite a few progressives, and quite a few folks with no ideological slant who are committed Christians who want nothing more than to spread the Gospel through the world by championing Social Justice issues.

I decided to try Grace church out not only because it was a beautiful building, but mainly because of an inside joke between me and my boyfriend at the time would have about the building.  Ironically enough it was the first Sunday of Advent, and since it fell on the last Sunday of November, there was no Eucharist, but I have to say that the traditional language of Rite I and the service of Morning Prayer really spoke to this refugee from the Evangelical world.  What I thought was really really REALLY awesome was that the the psalms and canticles were chanted.

Anglicanism has contributed a great deal to the edification of the Body of Christ but I think one of the most profound gifts we have is that we sing the Bible.

Let me repeat that.  Anglicans sing the Bible.  I was home.  I was confirmed the next time one of our bishops came to visit and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward five years and a half years.

Pentecost is a big day in the Church calendar, but goes relatively unnoticed in much of the Church.   But it’s a big deal.  It’s the fulfillment of  Jesus’ promise that he would pray to the Father who would send us an Advocate, a Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who would abide with us forever … The Holy Spirit.  Once again, God gives Himself for us as He gave Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.

My first Sunday at Grace Church was the first Sunday of Advent, and my last Sunday is the Day of Pentecost.  I served as an Acolyte today along with three others, including the Rector’s son.  (As an aside, there was a great Kodak moment when he was spotted riding a skateboard in the hallway while vested … wish i had a camera!)  At coffee hour, I said my good-byes to everyone and promised I will be back to visit.  (And I will be back….One does not give up one’s Manhattan apartment, remember!)

One of the Pentecost readings for today is invariably the second chapter from the book of Acts.  Two phrases stand out from that passage … Peter quotes the prophet Joel and says “In the last days, God declares, I will pour my spirit out on all flesh,” and later he says, “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”

The inclusiveness of those passages is astonishing especially when you consider the context of the times in which they were written.  God’s Spirit being poured out on everyone.  Everyone who calls on the Lord experiences salvation.  This isn’t limited to a class or tribe or any group of people, the Gift of the Holy Spirit is for everyone.

The 50 days of Easter were days of fear, awe, wonder and some serious soul searching as the disciples of Jesus probably wrestled with what to make of their sitings of The Risen Lord and especially what to do after Jesus’ ascension.  Then like violent wind, the Holy Spirit descends and tongues of fire appear over the heads of those gathered in the upper room in a building in Jerusalem.  Long after the tongues of fire vanished the wind continued to blow … sending Paul all across the Roman empire bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles.  Legend has it that the winds of the Spirit blew apostles to far flung places like India and Ethiopia.  This is a Spirit who doesn’t recognize gender, race or class.  This is a Spirit who recognizes the whole human race.

That wind is still blowing 2,o00 years later.  Maybe … just maybe … the Spirit is sending me away from New York.  I have no idea what is in store for me when I get to Key West, but one thing I do know.

Following God is never dull.


21 05 2010

Anyone remember Pisco? of the former Pisco Sours blog?  He was in NY for an overnight and we were able to get together and catch up.  AND it turns out that he and his husband will be in Key West in September!  We had dinner at Henry’s, which is THE Quintessential Upper West Side New York establishment.  It’s where a lot of locals go after a night at The Met, Lincoln Center, the Ballet or any other kind of cultural venue for a late night dinner.


10 Days to Go

20 05 2010

In just 10 short action packed days, my Personal Atheist and I will head down to Key West.  We leave Sunday, May 30, and arrive in KW Tuesday evening, June 1.  He’s going to take a few days to enjoy the town and then I’ll drive him to Miami so he can catch a flight to New York.

The PA was the first real New York friend I met when I moved to the city and it’s kind like coming full in that he’ll be the last one to see me off.

Today, Sista girl showed up bright and early, fresh from her trip to Mexico with the Holy and Blessed Jeep Saint Jeronica full of artwork, plants, a cutting board (!), and not a few gallons of paint.  Between now and Sunday, she’ll be putting her own imprint on the apartment and then this Sunday, her stuff arrives.  A few things from Crate and Barrel arrived before I left for work this morning and once the delivery guys had left, she looked at me, smiled and said quite cheerily (but pointedly!), “Well, I guess you’re going off to work soon aren’t you?  I’ll be just fine here, thanks.”

Over the past month or so, my life has increasingly become not my own.  There have been many extended good-byes … too many to count already.

As of this morning, I no longer have an apartment, I have a room.

Between now and the 30th, I simply do not have any real time to myself except for what I carve out before work, just before bed, and whatever mental health breaks i can sneak in during the day.

Between now and the 30th, every evening is full of farewell dinners, brunches, get togethers with friends and quite frankly, even before today, it has gotten to the point where i really would like an entire day to veg out, which i haven’t had in at least a month between clearing out the apartment, making sure quality time with friends are well spent …

Yesterday, though, I had a bit of a revelation … the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear if you will.

None of this is about me.  It’s about everyone else.

Bringing a sense of closure.

Moving on.

To friends in the blogosphere and the rest of the Internet, not much will change for them.

But for people who have blessed and enriched my life for the past 8 years, this is the time for their friendship, love and companionship to be honored and acknowledged.