I got a call yesterday from a dear friend, a young man who I care about very much. His heart was heavy. A close friend of his is sick, and having a hard time coping. The illness has far reaching implications.
I love this young man. He is an example to me of health and wellness on a lot of levels. He is vocationally solid, civically minded, spiritually oriented, and heart-centered in his approach to living.
He also happens to be gay.
This is gay pride weekend in Sonoma County, and I find myself thinking about how inspiring this young man is to me. He is one of many. There are so many gay, bisexual, lesbian and trans-gender people who I am blessed to have in my life, who have contributed so much, who inspire me every day by showing up and being real, being authentic, being who and what they are here to be.
I had breakfast yesterday with one of my best friends in the world, who happens to be a lesbian. My ecclesiastical inspiration and teacher is a gay man who is brilliant and guides and tolerates and loves me (shh, don’t tell him). There are so many friends, clients, and colleagues, the list goes on and on of people that I have known and continue to know and count as among the most valuable people in my life. You inspire me, and my life is better for knowing you.
I am fortunate to be a part of a spiritual community as well as to live in a geographic area that celebrates diversity as the nature of creation, the very nature of God as life. I am so blessed to have found a group of people who understand, embrace and celebrate life in all of the ways that it shows up, and that truly appreciate what diversity contributes to a greater good.
We are challenged every single day to expand our hearts and our minds, to look for and to find the good in every single person that crosses our path, to live from a place of love, and to recognize and honor the very people who challenge us the most. My gay friends get to live this every day, and to be on the receiving end not just of love and acceptance but also of judgement and ignorance.
I won’t pretend to completely understand the challenge of being gay in a predominantly straight world. I will never experience what it’s like to be black in a white world, or a woman in a male dominated world. But I have counseled people with major life challenges for many years now, and know that while the things that challenge our souls the most are heart-wrenching, there also seems to be a direct correlation between the size of our life challenges and the depth of the individual soul. My gay friends have some of the biggest, deepest souls that I have ever experienced.
I love my friends. It doesn’t matter to me what their sexual orientation is, what their race is, or what their socio-economic condition is. I love them, because they are doing their best, they are walking their talk, they inspire and teach me, and they are gifts in my life.
My young friend, thank you, for being so authentic, for being willing to so courageously be who and what you are, for being such an amazing mind and tender heart. You are an example of a spiritual principle that I embrace – that God is all there is, and that each of us is an amazing and beautiful and perfect creation of that one Source. You inspire me. You make my world a better place by your presence. And I am honored to call you friend.
With much love, from your friend,
Rev. Jeff Anderson