Thursday, July 6, 2017

108 Breaths in the Morning


 
 
Black, yellow, white and red stones for the four directions of the earth.
 
The Shiva Lingam for the holiness of our erotic energy.
 
The Cross for the radical solidarity of the Divine with our flesh.
 
A tiny Buddha for the joyful impermanence of all that arises.
 

 


Monday, June 26, 2017

Conrad Alexandrowicz: The Wines of Tuscany

Two decades after the “cocktail” transformed HIV-AIDS into a manageable long-term condition--for those who respond to the drugs, and who can afford and have access to treatment--AIDS memoir has slipped from the central place it held in gay literature during the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. Many of those works--in turns searing, elegiac, angry, urgent, tender--were the crucibles in which a generation of queer men refined the hard-won truths of their spiritual lives.

Among the most moving works for theatre that came out of the crisis was Victoria-based playwright Conrad Alexandrowicz’s The Wines of Tuscany (1996).  

For me, the opening monologue, in which Ben narrates his unashamedly sexualized recurring dream of Christ’s Passion, is a courageous assertion of the non-dualtiy of flesh and spirit. In this, it stands beside the homoerotic devotional imagery of the photographs of John Dugdale and of Oscar Wolfman, beside Keith Haring’s AIDS altarpiece at the Episcopal cathedrals of New York and San Francisco, beside Terrence McNally’s reimagining of the life of a queer white-trash Texan Christ in his play Corpus Christi. 

By happy circumstance, I had a chance to unleash my inner groupie in admiration for his work when I found myself introduced to Alexandowicz in a Toronto museum last month. He kindly agreed to share here some words of introduction to the play, along with Ben’s opening and closing speeches.

 

THE WINES OF TUSCANY

This play is a one-act physical-theatre duet for male performers about memory, pleasure, and loss. It is also about wine, food, architecture, sex and opera. The play is set to a score composed of original material as well as excerpts from operas by Verdi and Mozart, and uses dialogue, movement and song to convey its narrative. 

The piece is essentially a man's reminiscence of the last trip to Italy taken by himself and his lover, who has since died of AIDS. Long-time opera- and wine-lovers, the two make one more tour through Tuscany in search of the ultimate red wine experience. As his lover's illnesses worsen, the search becomes more desperate, and wine comes to represent a magical substance that can provide an aesthetic experience so powerful that it is an elixir of life. The journey is therefore about the quest to prove that beauty, like love, is stronger than death. 

The Wines of Tuscany originated at Vancouver's New Play Festival and was subsequently produced twice more in that city. It then toured to Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and Toronto, where it ran for six weeks at the Tarragon Theatre. It has won numerous awards.


THE WINES OF TUSCANY
A one-act dance-theatre duet for male performers

[Setting: A large painted backdrop portrays a composite of typical elements of Italian high Renaissance architecture. . . . There is a living room setting downstage right, a couch and carved chest with a wine bottle and glass. . . . The lights come up on the last crashing measures of La Traviata: Violetta dies of consumption as Alfredo, his father, the doctor and the maid all howl in anguish. The chords fade away as Ben is discovered on the couch down right. He sits up, pours a taste of Il Grigio da San Felice, Riserva 1990, sniffs the bouquet, tastes it, and then begins to address the audience]

SCENE 1

BEN: I had the dream again. [Music: the Preludio from La Traviata]  Under a black sky, stinking of sulphur, promising the rains of doom, I see the crucified Christ twisting like an animal impaled alive on a spit. He's been stripped of the usual ragged loincloth; he has a huge, raging erection. [Edward stands and begins to move]   He's pumping the air with his pelvis. Suddenly he's coming... wildly, magnificently, endlessly. This shower of cum is bestowed over the assembled multitudes below, who receive it into their hands like fallen gold, ecstatically; a magic transforming fluid that has the power to heal and restore. I understand that this Christ was sent from the hand of God the Father to heal the world, and he's been punished for it. And God's in his heaven, weeping as gods sometimes do when they can do nothing to help. So his son does the only thing left in his power: he performs this magnificent last miracle, this stupendous, epic orgasm, generated from the superhuman pain of his all-too-human tormented body. From his seed will grow clear sight, calm thinking, the benefit of the doubt. The hand extended to the one who calls out, palm open, no questions asked.
 
The dream changes, exactly the same way, every time. He appears. [Ben crosses to Edward. They variously dance, slide, roll and run together throughout the rest of the speech]  His eyes like chocolate truffles, his shiny, springy hair; his shapely hands. It's him alright, it's actually him! I gasp, with amazement, with horror even. Then I begin to weep. And then I get hard, just like always: I'd only to look at him and I'd get hard. I'd think of him on the bus or subway, and get a lump in my jeans. Very embarrassing before getting off: the old ladies sitting with their shopping, their eyes at crotch level.
 
In this dream we're on a train travelling north to Siena. The idea is to get away from Rome as soon as possible. I love the sprawling mess of this city; these many cities from different ages piled together, but he finds it oppressive, and appalling, especially the traffic, which seems to be lethal to everything that walks the earth. You think they're actually trying to run you over, but when you wade out into the river of FIATS in front of the Victor Emmanuel monument, they all slow down just enough so you can cross; they part like the Red Sea did for Moses and the children of Israel. It's a miracle: what better place to experience a miracle than the Eternal City? He always said they only avoid killing pedestrians because of the inconvenience and expense of lawsuits. [Edward brings the chairs to centre stage. Train scene] 

We're on this train, going to Chianti, for the wines of course, and I'm gazing out of the window at the parade of hill towns passing by, rosy stone in the morning sun, each with its immaculate bell-tower gravely lifting its head toward the heaven of Giotto and Palestrina. He always let me have the window seat. I turn to my right, and there he is. I turn to my right, and there he is. I turn to my right... [Edward falls in slow motion to the floor]  Ah, tu fosti il primo oggetto che sinor fedel amai, e tu l'ultimo sarai ch'abbia nido in questo cor.

*****
SCENE 18 [Ben moves to the side of the couch]
BEN: He fell. The stairs of the pensione. All the way down. And sustained multiple fractures in his left leg because his bones were so weak. We made it to Rome, but they wouldn't let us on the plane. By then he had pneumonia again. If you're that sick they won't let you. It's a long flight, the liability and all that. So, he's still there. Where he always wanted to be. He'll never leave now. It was worth it: he was lucky enough to find out.

I want to be saved. I go to bed at night repeating those words to myself like an old Italiana telling her rosary. “Somebody save me, somebody take me home.” But nothing can save us, certainly no Chianti Classico, or Vino nobile or Brunello. And no one is coming to take us home. This is it: we've arrived. There's only one other place to go. You pay the boatman a small fee, because there's no end to tipping, no matter what, and if you're lucky, he'll get you there quickly. Plague has come before. It comes again. And the water of life can do nothing in the face of it.

In my dream the crucified Christ comes down from the cross. The look in his eyes is infinitely sad. He shuffles towards me with his hands extended in front of him. The wounds are still bleeding, but, there's music coming from them. You take another sip of the best stuff you've brought back from your trip, and listen. It's the most beautiful sound you've ever heard! 

[Music: The sublime trio “Soave sia il vento” from Mozart’s Così fan Tutte. Ben simply sits and listens to the music, then pours another glass of wine, stands, toasts and drinks, all in slow motion. He sits down, then lies along the couch, one arm framing his head, as the lighting produces a complex sunset effect timed to the music. Long fade to black]  


THE END
 
 
(Cast photo from the Tarragon Theatre production of 1997)
 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

"Any god who is mine  but not yours, any god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol."
--Abraham Heschel

Monday, June 19, 2017

"The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."
--Meister Eckhart




Saturday, June 17, 2017

Household Gods

Maybe it's odd to call the shelf above my desk an altar. It's actually a blocked-in window frame from before this cottage was expanded 60 or 70 years ago. It's not as though I have a practice that's anchored to the space--unless the whole of my time at my desk is a kind of practice. Perhaps I should just call it a reminder of some things that sustain me and energize my life, carried from winter quarters to summer quarters and set out here for as long as this migration lasts.


To the lower left, a statue of Hanuman that held the ring I received from the man I used to live with, for the year after our relationship ended.

The decorated box I worked on for two months last summer.

Above it, a poor inkjet copy of Josef Kozak's "Cernunnos," who for me is also Shiva, Jesus, and the stud of my dreams, all rolled into one.

The mala I use to count breaths during centering prayer, draped over one of a trinity of ceramic phalluses slip-cast by Abwoon.

The singing bowl I bought at the gift shop of Wildwood during Body Electric's Dear Love of Comrades retreat fifteen years ago.

An icon from the shrine of Julian of Norwich that a sometime lover and friend of thirty years gave me on my fiftieth birthday. Which was way too fucking long ago.

A Shiva Lingam given to a friend of mine by a closeted gay man in Varanasi, and gifted me in turn.

Around another of Abwoon's slipcast phalluses, to the left, a talisman made by Badger from a smooth river stone and twisted recycled copper wire.

In the foreground, the clutter of my desk.

Ask me at the end of the summer what it all means.

And the box:

 
Antique hardware store drawer, beachcombings, cropped Tom Bianchi photographs, acrylic paint. Slicing up Bianchi's sexy, commodifying images of buff circuit boyz helps me work through my deep ambivalence about his pictures. On the one hand, I blush to say I find them riveting. On the other hand, I find the ethics of his project deeply unsettling--a celebration of joyous and unashamed male eros, yes, but one that goes far toward disenranchising any of us whose DNA doesn't make the grade, and who haven't spent twenty hours a week at the gym for the last five years.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Not So Long Ago, In a Place Not So Far Away: A guest post by Hoppergrass

On the cusp of summer's arrival (or sort of), thanks to Hoppergrass for his reflections on what we've lost, and we could regain.

Not so long ago, in a place not so far away, men and boys swam naked.



Philip Gladstone, "The Twenty."


They undressed, showered, eliminated and horsed around together. I thought about this during a recent trip to Iceland, where trans-generational communal showers are ubiquitous at geothermally heated swimming complexes and at natural hot springs. Every facility had a large sign in the (un)dressing room instructing the patrons to "shower nude" before entering the waters. In the gang showers, there were fit 20-30 somethings, flabby elders, gangly teens, prepubescent boys, along with toddlers and infants in readily-available plastic highchairs that allowed their responsible-adults to shower unimpeded. I observed no evidence of embarrassment, no shame, no averted eyes nor intentional exhibitionism as soapy hands washed bodies, pits, genitals, and ass-cracks. These weren’t clothing-optional or nudist facilities: the mixed-gender pool area required bathing suits.  

 

 
 
 
When did this all change in North America? 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the late 19th century, as idyllically photographed and painted by Thomas Eakins, male trans-generational nude swimming was commonplace.
 
 
 



While mixed-gender bathing required full-torso garments for both women and men until after WW II, when men began routinely to expose their chests, the acceptance of men naked together in and around water persisted through mid-20th century America as they swam in schools, at the Y, and at private athletic clubs. 
 
 

Between the end of WW II and the rise of hippiedom, prudery progressively covered genitalia in all-male environments. As an early adolescent in the late 1950’s at boy scout camp, we still went skinny-dipping. I wonder how often that happens now. 

When did men and boys start feeling a fear of nakedness in front of other males? Why do even men cruising gay bathhouses today walk about with towels around their waists? Why do some gay men at “clothing-optional” resorts wear swimsuits not just to lounge but while in the pool or hot-tub? 

Not long ago I visited a hot springs north of San Francisco frequented by people of all genders and sexual orientations. Although the bathing area was designated “clothing optional”, only a few women wore bikini bottoms, and all men were nude. And then, in the more conservative East, my grandson and I were naked in an old-fashioned gang shower alongside a mix of boys, teens, men and elders -- most showering uninhibitedly, though a few wore their swimsuits as they soaped and rinsed. There I overheard an exchange between a preschooler and his grandfather, a child’s inquiry answered directly and accurately, without embarrassment: 

"I have a penis and you have a penis."
"Yes."
"My penis is little and your penis is big." "
Yes, But your penis will be big when you get big."
 
For way too long, I lived with a negative body image, and in particular felt deep anxiety about cock size. I wonder whether an easily accessible zone of shared social nudity among men would have helped me recognize earlier that I was just fine, right where I belonged on the spectrum of male anatomy. I wonder how much youthful (and adult) anxiety about the variety of male bodies, young and old, the restitution of shared nude swimming might defuse.

 
 
Paintings by Philip Gladstone.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Split a piece of wood, and I am there.
Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.

--Gospel of Thomas, Logion 77

Friday, May 19, 2017

Honoring Flesh, Honoring Spirit: Paul Rosenberg

This meditation is the work of Paul Rosenberg, the funny, wise, playful, and eloquent founder of the extraordinary tribe that is Rain City Jacks. It’s reblogged here with his permission from the group's website. 

Honor the Penis 

Repeat after me: This is my penis. It is part of me. It grows from me and extends into me. This penis is beautiful. My penis is a source of my joy. I know my penis. I care for my penis. My penis motivates me and moves me. My penis feels good. My penis feels wonderful. The pleasure of my penis radiates into and all through my body. My penis teaches me focus. My penis teaches me self-possession. My penis belongs to me and I command it. I am in charge of my penis. My penis is a reflection of my confidence, my maleness, my physical and mental health. My penis leads me to pleasure. My penis leads me to love. I love my penis.  I love my beautiful penis. I honor my penis and will never take it for granted. I promise to treat my penis well for as long as life allows me to be with it. I promise to take good care of my penis. I choose to share my penis, but my penis will always belong to me. I love my beautiful penis.


A lifetime ago, a time you can not and will never remember, a baby boy explored the world with wide-open eyes, a tasting mouth and reaching, grasping fingers. He was an experience sponge, taking in unimaginable quantities of information and learning, learning, learning from all of it. He took it all in and put his world, his life, his self in order according to those experiences. He is every baby boy.

And the reaching, grasping hand naturally, rightly fell between his legs and found his penis. It was not separate from him. Nothing was. Everything was him and he was everything. He was pure experience without subject or object and everything was more experience. His penis felt good when he touched it.

And sometime in those early years, someone big and powerful took his hands and began to divert them away from his penis, began to separate him from it with actions, words, spoken and unspoken intentions and with clothing. This too, is every baby boy.

Before sex was feeling and touching our penises was always a good feeling. Like all humans we naturally return to what feels good and push away what feels bad but this good feeling was not appropriate to our civilizations. Virtually every human society separates baby boys from their penises and even though virtually every boy finds his way back, that separation is always part of him.

We can not erase our fundamental understanding of the universe, and that is what we are sorting out as babies. What is this experience we call life? What am I and what are you? The answers we get as babies, learned through gentle directions of those far bigger and more powerful than us are permanent. We can revise, extend, reconfigure those knowings, but they are always in us.

My penis is a vital, literally vital part of life. It is my primordial connection to all men, all apes, all primates, all mammals, all animals and all life. The separation I was taught can not overcome that basic reality of my body and my species. I can not and will not abandon my penis to the fear of sex that was foisted upon me as an infant.


I claim my penis now, today, tomorrow and as long as I live. It is fundamentally good and inseparable from me. I will honor it with my loving touch, my full attention, my caressing and stroking. I will grant it orgasms and ride upon the waves of joy emanating from it. I will rest with it, wait with it, bring it with me everywhere and I will love it and every part of my life because my life is a precious, transient gift.

Reclaim and take full, joyful possession of your own beautiful penis every day. Love it, stroke it, bring it to orgasm and get to know it in exquisite detail. This is what you are sharing with your fellow man and woman, your personal self, your beloved, beautiful, confident, healthy penis. I will share mine with you and together we will experience the precious, bittersweet ecstasy of life for a moment or a lifetime.

 
 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Part of Your Soul, on a Table: Christopher's Altar, in His Words




My Personal Sacred Space

David introduced me to the idea of a personal altar a number of years ago.  It is an idea that tucked itself away in a corner of my brain.  Occasionally, it would pop out of the corner, and then return.  Last summer, I moved into my own apartment.  It is wonderful to be in a space that I can call my own, and into which I can set up my own processes.

            After a brilliant time last summer at the StoneSong Retreat, the idea of a personal altar pushed forward with increasing frequency.  Perhaps it was the gift of a Ganesha at the beginning of the retreat that helped me to entertain this idea more concretely. 

            Through contacts in my hometown, I was introduced to a local carpenter – a home renovator by day, and artisan woodworker by night.  As I described my idea, JK became more intrigued and excited.  I left the idea with him for a few weeks.  A call came.  He had found a piece of wood he thought might work for the top.  And so, I met the quilted maple that became the table.  I wanted a “live edge” and the slab of maple had a beautiful one.  There is a knot from a branch that is actually light rather than the usual dark interruption.  There is spalting to add more texture.  While it said “ah, yes” in its rough state, when it was finished this wood now sings.  As we talked in his workshop, JK became truly engaged in the idea and suddenly, a wood called Purpleheart from Brazil would become the legs, and dark walnut would become the shelf I hoped for.  JK would detail the mortise and tenon of the shelf into the leg and wedge it with maple.  We agreed to finish it with beeswax so the wood could continue to breathe.  All agreed, I left JK to his work.  The result is more than beautiful than I imagined.  This was a first project of this kind for JK, and I think he was inspired.  David has written that sometimes we find Life in unexpected places.  I think this is one of those moments – for both JK and me.  I feel blessed to have met this excellent young craftsman.

            So now, my altar sits in my dressing room.  This is the room deepest in my apartment space, and furthest from the living room and kitchen, and murmur of street traffic below.  It is quiet and can be totally dark when I close the door.  It is where I dress, and truth to tell, am most often naked.  I am starting to spend some longer time in this space (thanks to a small chair that I have placed there – creaky old bones need help!).  I can breathe and be open, and stand (or sit) naked in front of my altar, and sometimes I start my edging there in front of my altar.  It is a place where I try to bring my spiritual self and my sexual self into closer connection.

            There are two levels to my altar.  I am working on the interplay between the upper and lower levels – some things below are deeply important and formative, some are things that I am still unpacking.  The shelf is important.  There is a mala that was gifted to me by a wonderful woman when I retired.  The amethyst geode and necklace remind me of the earth and are my birthstone in different forms.  The Icon of St Christopher is partly a reminder of my own responsibility as a man.  The inukshuk was a gift from a spiritual family when I retired and moved to my new town and life.  As an inukshuk is composed of many stones and is a guide post, this one grounds me in a sense of many “home” places, and so guides me back to a centre.  The table has two crucifixes – one was a gift from Oberammergau, the other is one that I acquired while studying in England.  There is a lingam and yoni that I have been blessed to have anointed with a dear, dear friend who lies deep in my heart.  The singing bowl and candle are there as light and sound.  A small Buddha meditating, and the Ganesha rest on the top as aspects of spirituality that are new and intriguing me.

            This is my altar as it stands now.  I like to think of it as dynamic and growing more sacred as I use it.  It will change as I do.  The Rublev Icon is new.  I am learning to think of the Trinity as a positive dynamic force in the world calling me (and others, I hope) to be positive and dynamic too.  I pray this altar will help me to become a small part of that energy. 
 
This post is part of a series in which men share the personal sacred spaces they've created, how they use them, what they mean. I invite you to share a photograph of your own altar or sanctuary, and your words describing it. -- David


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Part of Your Soul, On a Table: Hoppergrass's Altar

Heartfelt thanks to Hoppergrass for sharing this photo of his altar, along with his words about the objects he keeps there.

 
My altar is the mantel of the fireplace in the large-windowed second-storey room where I do my morning tantric yoga and meditation practice. A buddha candle, minimally burned to exemplify the impermanence of all things, sits on a metal lotus flower, to remind me that from muck comes radiance. Four stones, gifted at an Easton Mountain workshop by Body Electric teacher Colin Brown, mark the cardinal directions around the lotus, according to designated color; they also represent Buddhism's four Noble Truths. Ganesh helps me overcome obstacles to reconciling my erotic and non-erotic personas: he is encircled by my leather cockring, symbolic of my struggle with my shadow. The small stone bear fetish, gifted at a retreat at Bodhi Mandala Zen Center, connects me to the oneness of all things. The ceramic heart, supported by the mala I use in meditation, is a rattle that I use during dry abhyanga. Finally, the not-quite-eternal eternal flame that I light at the beginning of each session as matter becomes energy; I extinguish it at the end as energy becomes matter.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

He's Not Here

It’s a day, and a season, when some of us think about death and resurrection.

The deeper we dig into that mystery, the more we’re likely to conclude that resurrection doesn’t simply undo death. It doesn’t just restore what was there before. The one who’s resurrected isn’t even immediately recognizable by those left behind. They mistake him for the gardener (John 20:15), or for a random stranger on the road (Luke 24:16), or for someone who suggests casting the net on the other side of the boat (John 21:4). He passes through locked doors and suddenly just appears (John 20:19). Yet he’s flesh and blood, with recognizable wounds.
Maybe the stories we tell about Jesus of Nazareth also offer lessons about our relation to spiritual traditions: about clinging to them, about letting go of them, about finding ourselves opened to look in unexpected places for the presence of Life, about walking away from empty tombs.
Sometimes, to see Life when it’s in front of us, new and yet strangely familiar, the religious certainties we were handed as kids are themselves the veil over our eyes that we’ve needed to remove. Some of us have found that Christianity itself, with all its homophobic baggage, has become the empty tomb we’ve needed to walk away from, when we’ve heard the angel say, “He’s not here.”
Some of us have experienced the presence of risen Life in places the Sunday School lessons of our childhood could never have allowed us to predict: in a gay men’s Buddhist sangha; at a faerie Beltane gathering; on a massage table; paradoxically, at the bedside of a dying friend; on a dance floor; at a march on Washington; in the arms of a man who's become a lover before he’s shared his name; at the table of someone you’ve known most of your life; alone on a mountainside at sunset.
Sometimes we have to stop focusing so relentlessly on where we expected to see Life. There it is, in the background behind what we’ve been staring at. Or just a few degrees off to the side. Or in a tradition that isn’t our own, that can speak to us not because it’s more authentic than our own spiritual roots, but because it surprises us, or because we come to it without the stumbling blocks of long and sometimes painful acquaintance. The trick then is to see that what at first glance looks so different from what we’ve lost turns out to be the gracious return of what gave us life from the very beginning. To say, in response to hearts that burn within us, “Oh--it’s You again.”
 
 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Night of the Arrest

“A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.”--Mark 14:51

You’ve seen him here late at night all week. He’s come up the rambles between the trees to this knoll at the top of the garden. You thought he was looking for sex when he first showed up on Sunday night, but he didn’t prowl like most of the men who linger until they’re sure it’s safe and then offer to buy you for the night, or for an hour, or for just a quick fuck behind the biggest, oldest olive tree. Or else keep on looking for another man as hungry for sex as they are.
He just leaned against what’s left of the stone hut that belonged to the gardener in the old days. Aware of what was going on around him. Not horny and panicked at his own desire and the danger of the place, like most newcomers. At peace, saying yes to it all, but wanting none of it for himself.
You wear just a linen sheet when you’re up here working the hill.
Tonight he’s back with two friends, who for hours started at the sound of every pebble that shifted underfoot as men cruised the paths. His own face showed more sadness than fright, until he finally went off alone to the side of the garden, kneeling as he wept. You waved a john away, wondering if you should go to him. Now his friends have drifted off to sleep.
Another john comes up, and you’ve got to make enough to eat tomorrow. But then the man turns, and your eyes lock. The john glares, shrugs, and walks off.
Without thinking, you get up and walk over to him. He’s still weeping as he reaches out to you, but by the time his arms are around you, you realize the comfort he’s offering is beyond anything you can give back. For the next five minutes, you exchange no words, only sobs, until the two of you fall into a slow, steady rhythm, rocking back and forth, your breath matched to one another. His hand burrows under your dreadlocks to stroke the back of your neck.
Down the hill you hear the scuffle of men scattering as they do when the police barrel through. You pull back in alarm. He smiles and says, “It’s O.K. Go, get out of here.”
As you pitch down the hill, a cop grabs for you, but you leave the sheet behind, clutched in his hand, as you run on to safety.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ecosexuality: Men in Nature

Feminist cultural theorists have long pointed out the enduring and widespread tendency to associate women with nature and men with human culture--an association that reenforces patriarchal thought patterns, stereotypes, and power structures. Removing ourselves as men from the realm of nature, imagining that we’re in a position of dominance over nature instead of being part of it, has encouraged us as to wreak ecological havoc in the name of the economy and “progress.” Environmental rape and pillage aren’t just a metaphor--they’re perpetrated overwhelmingly by men who assume that they can and should control everything--both women’s bodies and the body of the Earth.

Affirming our place in nature, rather than pretending we occupy a place above it, is a way of realigning ourselves on the side of the Earth. It’s a way of saying no to patterns of male domination and entitlement. It’s also a way of affirming, as queer men, that we belong here, in the world--that we’re part of it, at home in it, alongside birds and grass, oak trees and dragonflies. It’s a way of dropping down into our bodies, instead of floating above them as disembodied intellects. It’s a way of practicing true humility--a word that in its origin means “close to the ground.” It’s also sexy and fun.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Love after Love (by Derek Walcott, 1930-2017)

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another; who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Part of Your Soul, on a Table

Few things can ground self-awareness of your inner life like setting aside sacred space in your home--or in nature. One of the pages in the “Ritual Resources” sidebar to the right is about creating personal altars.

Personal altars, at their best, are visible maps of the invisible world within us. Sometimes they can express what's happening inside better than any words we can find. Sitting before an altar where you've placed objects that represent key experiences, deep beliefs, people you love, you may find yourself surprised at what it's telling you. Listen to your altar. It knows more than you do.

Here is the first of what I hope will become a series of shared images of some of these shrines, with or without words from the men who’ve created them. If you've made an altar and would like to share a photo and/or words about what it means to you, the objects you keep there, the practice you’ve created around it, please contact me!

Here are two photos of StarDancer’s altar. He is a shaman and sacred intimate who lives and practices in St. Louis.

 
“My altar is a repurposed piece of furniture that I’ve had since childhood. It used to have legs, doors, and a blonde finish...and likely could have been valuable in a different way had it remained unaltered and not become my altar!

“It lives in my sanctuary room, where I conduct SI sessions. It holds objects of various kinds from my journey into spirituality and Sacred Intimacy. I rearrange the objects occasionally. Sometimes I pass them on to another in ritual or as a gift.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trinity



What if Christians started using their theological resources to celebrate the full range of possible loving relationships, instead of obsessing endlessly over one constricting paradigm of marriage?
The following quotation comes from a meditation by Cynthia Bourgeault for March 15, copyright and distributed by Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation:

“Ternary systems have three independent forces coming together to form something new, a fourth thing. Perhaps the simplest example is a braid. You need at least three sections of hair for a braid to hold; the braid is then a new creation. The interweaving of threeness results in something that didn’t exist before. It is not just a swinging back and forth between two old things that were already there, but a drive into a brand new dimension.
“While a binary system is by nature stable and symmetrical a ternary system is asymmetrical and innovative. Unlike a pendulum, it cannot come to equilibrium within its own orbit; it seeks stability in a new plane, through a resolution that is at the same time a new arising. It corkscrews its way through time, matter, form--whatever plane is at hand--in a riot of uncertainty and new combinations, the whole of which is the fullness of divine reality.”
 
Photos: from Howard Roffman's Three, and the Rublev Trinity (14th century)