23 November 2009

The Thanksgiving Post

I went to a funeral last Sunday. A co-worker's father passed away recently. I never knew him, but since I was in the city as usual on a Sunday, it was right and proper that I attend the memorial service and support my friend and his family.

The service was held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco, a beautiful Romanesque church well over a century old. And apart from the magnificent pipe organ which I was allowed to play and invited back to play again anytime I wanted, woot woot, I was struck by one key thing at this service.

Frankly, it might as well have been held in a hotel conference room or in a park. It was warm and human and funny and contemplative and there was not a single mention of God or faith or resurrection or the Savior or eternal life. There were no prayers. This good man's wife of 28 years, sweet and smiling as she was, seemed to have the attitude "oh well, it was nice while it lasted." Even the minister, a man in his 60's with weatherworn face, ponytail, and a silver hoop in his left earlobe, spoke only of hope that my friend's father had now finally found some answers to "the eternal mysteries of existence." I understand why a Unitarian prayer begins with "To whom it may concern."

I don't say this to diss anyone. All in attendance were wonderful people I'm sure, and faithful in their own way. But wow, what a contrast between that almost completely secular approach and the faith I have. It really got me thinking about how lucky I am to know what I know.

This week is going to see a flurry of Thanksgiving-related posts. That's great, and as it should be. I've always felt lucky that gratitude and a "glass half full" attitude seems to come easily for me. And I do have tons to be thankful for: health, my wonderful kids, my faith, my family, my work, my friends, opportunities for service, the steal of a deal I got on a Calvin Klein suit recently. But this year I'm going to focus this post on one particular thing.

Last year at Thanksgiving I had only been out a couple of months and was still kind of giddy, bewildered, even disoriented. I hadn't met any other MoHos in person and was still figuring a lot of things out. This year, what a difference. I'm out to my dad and half my family (and don't worry, I'll blog about our upcoming conversation separately), I don't bat an eye if the fact that I'm gay comes up in casual conversation, I have an incredible new virtual family of dozens of brothers and sisters all over the place. So add to the list for this year "solid confidence in who I am." I feel kinda stupid that it took me so long to get here, but as I've said before, I may be late to the party but at least I showed up.

Since I'm a musician, I can't express those thoughts better than with what I wrote last year around this time. So forgive the re-run, but it's even more valid now than before. Some customized lyrics to the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth":

For the beauty of my bro's,
For the beauty in their eyes,
For the love that each one knows
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee I raise
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of my friends,
For their hearts and helping hands,
For their support that never ends
Stronger still than iron bands,
Lord of all, to thee I raise
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of brothers' love,
Giv'n by God to each and all,
Friends on earth and friends above,
Firmly standing proud and tall,
Savior, Lord, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

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