The Greatest Joy on Earth….

.is to LOVE, and Be Loved in Return. I am absolutely dumbfounded at the biased, nastily rhetorical , narrow-minded, and completely UN-christian things I have been seeing and hearing as regards same sex marriage lately. I know, it shouldn’t surprise me – there’s a lot of hatred and suspicion out there, unfortunately. However there was a bright spot to my day while I was pondering all this kerfluffle. I am not a Barack Obama fan by any means – ask anyone who knows me – but today I heard that he did get something right. He “came out” (pun intended) in favor of same sex marriage! Way to go, Mr President! The only “criticism” I have is that he didn’t do it sooner. That said, I’m happy his opinion is “finally out of the closet” and strangely, coinciding with my own.

Photo Credit: p.twimg.com/AsgAPE6CEAEyrPo.jpg (found on Twitter today)

For the record, I’m straight. I consider myself a Christian (self-titled “New Age Catholic”). My family tree has many religious branches including Judaism, LDS’, Lutherans, Evangelical Baptists and RC’s, so I’ve been exposed to many different points of view over the years. I’ve long had issues with what I consider very outdated Catholic Church doctrine and its practices as they concern women’s roles in the Faith. But there is also much that I agree with with in its teachings. Teachings that boil down to this one simple, profound idea – “LOVE ONE ANOTHER“. This is Christ’s greatest commandment to his followers.

In any religion marriage is a sacrament and any religion has every right to decide who can and cannot marry. In the Roman Catholic faith couples are required to take “Pre-Cana” classes; and the priest can decide not to perform the marriage if he feels the parties are not ready – for whatever reason. Granted, it doesn’t happen often – but it does happen. A Church has every right to expect its members to behave according to its doctrine, and I support that wholeheartedly. After all, if I don’t like it, I have the option to leave. Where I have the issue is when members of any church or religion decide to apply or force their code of behavior on the world at large. I have trouble reconciling the loving God I am most familiar with – with the terrifying spectacle of a vengeful petulant God that religious extremists envision. Extremists scare the daylights out of me with their black and white “if you disagree with me you’re going to hell” or “if you disagree with me I’ll blow you up” view of the world. It’s not that simple.

Lets look at marriage from a social standpoint and put the religion aside for a moment. Marriage -from a societal view – is really just a legally binding social contract between two people who LOVE ONE ANOTHER and want to build a life together. So what’s the problem? When two people marry they are not taking anything away from anyone, they are creating new connections. There are no boundaries where there is love. Gender doesn’t matter, what matters is that there is LOVE, and that two people are willing to make a long term COMMITMENT to each other. In these days of hook-ups, one-nighters, friends-with-benefits, “open” relationships, and short term, disposable ones – COMMITMENT is a rare and beautiful thing. We should be doing everything in our power to encourage stable, loving, long-term connections between people. It is not loving to keep others from living full and complete lives in a committed caring relationship simply because we don’t care for their sexual orientation! And further, also for the record, I don’t believe that’s a choice either. If you are lucky enough to love and be loved in return – then you have EVERYTHING. All same sex couples are asking is for the right to go down to city hall and commit to each other. They are not insisting that any church perform the ceremony, or that any church accept them as members. This should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, a fuss is being made.

Allowing people of the same gender to marry one another HURTS NO ONE. I would submit to you all that actually it only enhances us as human beings – because it promotes a culture of acceptance and caring. I would also further submit that a truly religious person would refrain from hurtful, malicious criticism and instead lead by quiet example. I don’t believe it is my place to pass judgement on other people’s behavior (unless I’m on the jury when you stand trial for a crime) because I am fallible and a work-in-progress myself. I may have an opinion, but I can’t stand in judgement. I live in a glass house, just like the rest of the planet.  And, it really doesn’t matter to me what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home.  I don’t particularly care for excessive PDA regardless of the gender(s) involved.  (Save it for the bedroom, kids!)  What does matter to me is how people treat one another. Are they kind, helpful, and loving?  When it is time to close my eyes for the final time on this plane of existence I will be asking myself these questions: Did I love? Did I show it by my actions and words? Was I loved in return? Did I make a difference in other peoples lives?, Was I kind? Did I take responsibility for my mistakes and hurtful actions towards others, and am I sorry for them? If I can answer yes to these questions, then I have lived as a Christian Human Being. I’ll know where I’ll be headed next, and I’ll also  know there’ll be QUITE the conversation when I get there.   Peace, out.

All I Need is Just a Little

Patience

PPerseverance. I gotta hang in there and deal with whatever comes my way, as it comes my way – and not before.

AAttitude. Keep it positively real, and really positive.

TTolerance. It is what it is.  Accept what I cannot change.

IInspiration.  Surround myself with people and things that nurture and inspire me. Give it to God when I can’t handle it.

EEndurance.  Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

NNon-resistance.  I need to go with the flow.

CClarity.  I need to make sure I understand what is going on so I can react accordingly. I need enough information to work with. I must ask when I do not understand.

EEquanimity. I must remain calm.  ( every time I say that  I think of “Animal House” – and I giggle)

I must go to my happy place as often as possible – perhaps all of the above are good directions to get there?  I think yes!

Patience – Guns N  Roses

Young at Heart

My blogger friend Miss “Sarah on the Go” is approaching her quarter century milestone and wrote a wonderful post about her thoughts which you can read here. And it got me thinking…. what keeps us young? Why is it that some of us seem ancient at 50 and others of us are so vitally alive at 90 something? We can’t prevent the aging process, or those chronic conditions or illnesses that speed it up & make it difficult to function – but I’ve come to the conclusion that attitude is everything when it comes to keeping ourselves spiritually and psychologically young.

I hit the big 5-0 on New Years Eve. This type of milestone certainly does lead one to reflect. Am I where I expected to be at this point in my life? Have I accomplished any of the things I thought I would do by now? Am I happy? Have I made a difference to anyone? Answers: No – but then again I’m not exactly sure what I expected. Yes- some of them. Yes, I am happy. And, I sincerely hope I have. I’ve been working on my attitude a lot recently. My innate tendency is to be somewhat pessimistic and I’ve been working hard to overcome that – finding things to be grateful for, and seeking out people who reinforce a positive outlook. This hasn’t been easy – life events have a way of interfering with my best laid plans. But I’m rolling with it. I have to. Blogging/writing helps – and increases my exposure to a huge number of extremely positive, caring people from very diverse places and backgrounds. This is a good thing, a very good thing indeed.

So what contributes to a positive attitude? Humor – finding the funny can be difficult sometimes, but there’s nothing like a good laugh. And if you can laugh at yourself – even better. Creativity – keeping those little grey cells occupado. Having a hobby or even just reading has tremendous benefit, even if it’s just to ward off boredom. Relationships. Those connections are crucial to maintain in order to ward off depression or ameliorate it. Openness to trying new things and venturing down that road less traveled, at least occasionally. Me time. There’s nothing wrong with a little self pampering and we shouldn’t feel guilty about it as long as we don’t go overboard. Spontaneity. Being flexible is key to remaining spiritually youthful. Gratitude. As I’ve said, this is a biggie for me. When things go south its good to remind myself that despite my problems I still have it pretty darn good. I have a thankful list and I try to review it frequently. Another blogger friend, Kate, has a “daily gratitude” page on her blog, which you can read here. She is one of the most positive people I’ve ever encountered. Finally, there’s Faith, or Spirituality. I believe God will help us – even if it’s not the help we think we need at that time.

Getting to that positive place and remaining young at heart takes some work. But its worth it. Take my dear father for example. He was (only) 79 when he was suddenly taken from us. I guess you could say he looked his age, but he certainly didn’t act it. Dad was always busy. Working, socializing. Antique cars was a hobby – and he had a couple of them. He also loved to cook, and was a voracious reader. (I get it from him I guess). Dad was always up for an adventure, especially if the grand kids were involved. I could call him late on a Friday and fully expect him to go to the beach with me on Saturday. Or, maybe he’d just show up for dinner unannounced a few times a week. Young at heart? You betcha! I’ll leave you with this; which sums it up better than I probably can:

“Fairy tales can come true
It can happen to you
If you’re young at heart, for it’s hard, you will find,
To be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart
You can go to extremes
With impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams
Fall apart at the seams
And life becomes exciting with each passing day,
And love is either in your heart… or on its way.

Don’t you know that it’s worth
Every treasure on earth
To be young at heart?
For, as rich as you are,
It’s much better by far
To be young at heart
And, if you should survive
To a hundred and five,
Look at all you’ll derive
Just by being alive!
Now, here is the best part:
You have a head start
If you are among the very young…
At heart.”

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