An epistle to Dominic, my brother in Christ, from “H”, a wandering pilgrim, seeking after God’s will, ever guided by the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God!
I shall spare you the usual introductory remarks which are so common in epistolary applications, yet ever hoping that you are well and happy and engaging in rewarding life activities. I want to see you, and I want to meet Scott, who seems like a nice, big “kid” and a celebrant of life. For it is in the celebration of life, the enthusiasm, the bounding joy that I most greatly admire young people. For this reason, I have always said, “I love kids.” I still do.
Thank you for your letter, written in a wonderfully personal style, still full of ideas evidencing a mind in full flower, yet endeavoring to disclose information which causes much pain and risks the degree of friendship which binds people together in persona and time. It is received well and with gratitude. I now know of yet another room in the life and person of Dominic, mi hermano en Cristo, and I understand, I accept, and I am not surprised.
I have observed both function and dysfunction in your family for years. Yours is not unusual for families—I have had this sort of experience in my own life. I am virtually excommunicated because I refused to “take sides” in my brother’s divorce. My niece speaks to me, but my brother does not, nor my nephew, nor his mother. I got caught in the crossfire of an embattled family and I got “shot”—excommunicated.
So, I will pass from this life alone, in silence. And in silence I shall seek to do God’s will, to avoid most sin. But I am still guided by the Holy Spirit and I have been showered by much Grace, for which I am truly grateful, so that I know I am still part of some Grand Plan which I am not given to know.
Your “coming out” was not a surprise—I already learned of it, some months ago, in one evening I was drinking port and I was saying within my mind, “I wonder how Dominic is doing?” An answer occurred, “Oh, he’s fine. He lives with Scott; he may be ‘gay.’ So what, no matter. I hope he’s ok. He should lift weights in order to be ‘street safe’ during hours of darkness. After all, he’s one of my favorite kids, you know.” And the “favorite kid” status still stands to this date!
Does “coming out” change the dynamics of anything? No. With the information in your last letter—so human, so soul-wrenching—poor Dominic, you have suffered so greatly over this entire situation. But, alas, you are a Catholic, and Catholics wallow in guilt and punish themselves. I think often needlessly. Allow me to deal with these theological topics at another time.
Dominic, my friend, do not forget that I am a child of Berkeley with two degrees from that delightful academic center. I had a wonderful time there; the happiest years of my life were those at Berkeley. I met many people there: people of many cultures, colors, shapes, ideas, and lifestyles. Berkeley taught me tolerance, and life and time have taught me patience and understanding.
But I would still like to drive back to visit you and to stay with you for a few days, then have you and Scott drive west to Seattle and you can stay here with me (you, both of you) on “neutral ground” lest some of the family encounters be somewhat unsettled.
So, “U”, the friendly 25-year-old med student from Morelia, Mexico, sat quietly as we rode over Stevens Pass to visit “I”, the Irish goatherd in the mountains near Skykomish. Oscar is sharing an apartment with his buddy. Then he asked, in a tone anticipating my instant disapproval and rejection, “I need to ask an important question. What do you think of homosexuals?”
I replied, “Oh, I think homosexuals are people who are either differently wired from birth or are so influenced by numbers of different factors in their family lives or social experiences such that they tend to seek companionship or even some sort of love with individuals of their own gender. I do not think they are evil, covered with sin, but I do think they are often pursued by guilt and are often apologetic for who they are. Society seems ashamed of them, because society can only accept the existence of any form of heterosexual activity even though it be deviant or predatory. I have heard mature adults say of the alleged Clinton behaviors “What do you expect? He has a hard-on and Hillary won’t put out.”
“But,” I told “U”, “my major concern with homosexuality is what the partners do with and do to each other. I am opposed to behaviors and acts which transmit disease or which exploit the friendship within the relationship, such that a person feels used or abused by the other and undergoes psychological damage because of so-called reproductive activities within the relationship. Thus say the writers of Leviticus, Chapter 18. I am not about to inquire about people’s personal lives, nor do I need to know too much information. I care much more for people and who they are, that they carry a soul with an eternal destiny, than about the struggles within themselves in quest of moral and personal fulfillment. I am simply too unschooled, too inept, too unable, too lazy to seek to rearrange one’s inner life, what Manuel Rojas called el paisaje interior, the internal landscape.
I took “U” home, and I met his buddy, another nice, clean, big kid about 24 years old, bright-faced and still harboring hope for his life. I like kids like that. Countless others have probed my mind to seek my viewpoint on matters of the labyrinth of human sexuality. Pontius Pilate was right when he said, “But this man has committed no crime.” But Pilate lacked the spine and verve to send the Jews on their way. He caved in, for he was weak of spirit, and the Scriptures had to be fulfilled so that the Innocent should suffer and should rise again, on Sunday, to five us the proof and strength for our faith. Pilate would be judged by God; so will I, Dominic, “R”, and “D”, and “U” and “I” of Skykomish, and all others who bear humanity. May the Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy. Happy Easter.
I might add a parting note from my own life. I never fulfilled a sexual role, perhaps because of numerous forces in family and among peers wherein I was never viewed as a sexual being, only viewed as an academic, ordained at birth to be a teacher. And so I was and am, even to this day. I also possessed a lower biological drive than did my peers, so it seemed, so I was led to believe for many years. Women kept me as a friend, not as a lover. Men kept me as a friend or “outdoor buddy” and never as a warm companion. I just wasn’t into any of that. And everyone, somehow, seemed to know that Howard was mostly inert and, altogether, “harmless.”
So, at Christmas, when I read the Magnificat before the congregation, the Canticle of the Virgin Mary, the comment was uttered among the critics, “Only a virgin should read Mary’s canticle.” I answered to one elderly, sweet widow lady, “A virgin to read the Magnificat? You got one!” I am now viewed differently by the women of the church . . . whatever!
I go forth to catch and release fat, colorfully painted trout in our nearby lakes today, into the hills to respond to what Yeats called “lake water lapping in my deep heart’s core.”
May God’s grace, peace, and love be with you in Christ Jesus’ name. Happy Easter. Say “hi” to Scott.
Emeritus in Edmonds